Monday, November 28, 2011

Del Rio Vineyards 2009 Syrah

I have a penchant for big reds, and I'l be honest in admitting I have a bias towards Eastern Washington in that regard.  For so long in my head, Oregon was Pinot country and Washington brought the Merlot, Syrah, and Cab to the party.  If there's any attribute that is a hallmark of Pacific Northwest winemakers it's the ability to push my assumptions, and the Rogue Valley in Oregon has done just that.  Griffin Creek was my first introduction to the appellation, and I'm happy to report that Oregon can indeed produce some big reds that stand up those from up North.

Del Rio Vineyards, located in the Rogue River Valley near Gold Hill, Oregon, started it's agricultural history as a pear orchard, as so many great vineyards did. In 1997, the property was transformed into a vineyard, presently planted with over 200,000 vines, 12 varietals, and 17 clones.  In addition to supplying grapes to over 20 vintners, Del Rio also makes some of their own stuff -- Syrah being one perhaps the best known.  Recently Del Rio was kind enough to provide a bottle of their 2009 Syrah for review, an opportunity I was pleased to take advantage of.

Appellation: Rogue Valley, Oregon
Composition: 95% Syrah, 5% Grenache
Winemaking: Barrel aged for 10 months with 25% in new French oak.
pH: 3.8
Alcohol content: 13.5%
Production: 602 cases
Price: $35.00

The winemaker made the following vintage notes regarding the 2009 growing season,

The midsummer's heat wave accelerated the sugar development and resulted in an early start of harvest. The dry harvest gave way to cooler conditions in late September, delaying the picking of our reds. Fortunately, the majority of the fruit was already near to full ripening, which led to fruity well-balance white wines and structured reds.

Appearance: Upon pour, I found this wine to be a nice deep dark maroon bordering into purple. When held up to a light, this Syrah exhibits quite a bit of opacity.

Aroma: Immediately on the nose I extracted quite a bit of fruit, with some cranberry tartness. There was an aroma that I just couldn't put my finger on, so I pulled out the tasting notes and there it was -- raisin. A pretty classic nose that was quite inviting.

Taste: This Syrah started out soft on the palate with a punch of fruit-forwardness. As it developed, I detected some solid tannin with some acidity on the finish. This wine was juicy, full bodied, bold, yet elegant at the same time.

I made a fundamental error in pairing this wine with a stuffed bell pepper that turned out to be spicier than I had planned. I love spice, but it created some odd conflict with the wine. I'd suggest following a more traditional route and pairing the Syrah with a bigger, richer meat such as braised beef or lamb. All in all, a great representation of a Rogue Valley Syrah and a bottle I'd defnitely recommend.


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