Monday, February 9, 2009

Cline Syrah, and more to come

We recently enjoyed dinner with two faithful readers of the blog, who shared with us one of the wines they bought at the Safeway sale (see below), a Cline Syrah (~$10). The short answer? We were amazed.

We have enjoyed many Cline wines in the past but we never seem to buy them. This may change. Cline is perhaps best known for its Zinfandels and Mourvedres, many of which come from vineyards in sandy eastern Contra Costa County. Before you scoff, you should know that this is also where cult (or nearly so) producer Turley sources many of its grapes. The evil scourge phylloxera does not do well in sandy soil, allowing Contra Costa County vineyards to grow to extreme ages.

This Syrah is labeled California, which means the grapes could really come from anywhere in the state. Most likely the wine is a blend, with grapes from many regions.

But what about the wine? Well, Syrah can be many things, which is perhaps why it is having a hard time establishing itself in the marketplace. One of our favorite expressions of Syrah is Cote-Rotie, in the northern Rhone in France. There the wine is perfumed and sometimes just smelly, but in an interestingly meaty, smoky way. On the palate it is remarkably light. Most new world Syrah, whether from Australia (Shiraz), California, or elsewhere, lacks the smokiness and is heavy to the point of syrup. And the Cline? Very nicely balanced--far from syrupy--and intriguingly smoky.

We liked the wine so much that we are planning a trip to the winery to see what else they have to offer. You will see a full report here.

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