Friday, January 6, 2017

X Marks The Spot For Syrah

I'm sure you have a particular wine brand, or winemaker, to which you gravitate. You can circle around, spinning through wine space, trying every other planetary grape concoction that orbits close enough so you can grab it. You can make as many landings as you like on other wine label asteroids. You always come back to planet Earth. It's a safe harbor, hospitable, a place where you know there may be surprises but they won't be unpleasant.

Mine is Bonny Doon Vineyards. CEO and "president for life" Randall Grahm earned his "Rhône Ranger" stripes years ago when he gave up on Pinot Noir and went after the grape assortment from the Rhône Valley. If anyone ever made a good move, he did right then and there. His wines are dear to me, they speak to me, they're different every year and I can hardly wait to taste whats next.

The 2012 Bonny Doon Syrah from Bien Nacido Vineyard, Block X, is special. Grahm says it’s "one of the best iterations of Bien Nacido Syrah in recent memory." That's really saying something, too. There was a "substantial percentage" of whole-cluster grapes used and it shows with some herbal, minty notes. It carries a wonderfully respectable alcohol level of 13% abv and retails for $50. Only 313 cases were made.

This dark, brooding wine is savory, savory, savory. It's nose gives off aromas of meat, black olives, black fruit, coffee, herbs and a minty note that's downright wispy. Flavors are dark as well, with maybe a little more fruit coming through than in recent vintages, but still dominated by savory notes of bacon, coffee grounds, black tea and licorice.