Top Ten California Syrahs - 2016

I tend to taste and drink a lot of wine over the course of a year. I am in a few tasting groups, sometimes the wines are consumed at various local wine store tastings and a number drunk with friends and family.

2014 Donelan Syrah Obsidian Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma, Knights Valley, Wine Review

Sadly, this vineyard was burned in 2017 in the fires of Sonoma and Napa.  It is being replanted which is good news as this was the star of the Donelan line-up.  This was tasted from Magnum.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose has black raspberries, black pepper, and some grilled meats.  With air a nice floral note emerges.  On the palate, this has a softer accessible side which is nice, but don't mistake that for a lack of structure.  Black raspberry fruit with underlying char.  It is classic Sonoma Syrah that should last a couple of decades more and continue to improve along the w

2015 Domaine Petroni Corse, France, Corsica, Wine Review

Made from a blend of Niellucci, Syrah and Grenache.  Nielluci is genetically identical to Sangiovese but to the Corsicans, it is a native grape.   Very interesting as Corsican wines often are.  The nose has raisins, and spice along with a bit of sweet red currants.  On the palate, this is quite tannic so perhaps it is just young and will develop.It has a sweet tart quality which is fun.  Raisined cherries with a slight chocolate note.  Long finish.  This retails for $16 and is probably more interesting than great, but it is solid.  Seemingly grown in hot conditions, it would work with or wi

2014 Domaine Bois de Boursan Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France, Rhone, Wine Review

This was way above my expectations for a not so great vintage and their regular cuvee (although they didn't make a Felix in 2014).  Deep ruby in color.  The nose is a bit musty but clears to show raspberries, slight strawberries, a bit of pine and spice.  On the palate, this has a lovely slick-ish texture that makes it imminently drinkable.  Bright acidity.  Nice finish.  Drinking quite well right now, this is not going to make old bones.  

2013 Domaine Anne Gros & Jean-Paul Tollot La 50/50, France, Languedoc

This is a joint project from two successful winemakers from other parts of France.  It is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignane according to the web site.  This was really good and for $9 a screaming value.  It is a fruity wine and drinking quite well right now.  Perfect for this summers BBQ's and parties.  Purple in color, ruby at the rim.  The nose is slightly earthy with black raspberries and a slight pine note which was enjoyable.  On the palate, this has firm tannins.  Black raspberries and black licorice underneath.  Bright fruit.  There is even some upside with this wine over the

2011 Halcon Vineyards Syrah Alturas, USA, California, Mendocino, Wine Review

Halcon is making great wines just north of Napa in the Yorkville Highlands.  The wines are stunning values and everyone should sign up for their mailing list and e-mails.  This is a cooler climate Syrah and 2011 was even a bit cooler than typical.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, slight bacon fat, grilled herbs and a floral note.  There is concentrated fruit but this is more about the minerality.  Complex, this is not yet at peak but getting close.  On the palate, this is medium bodied with some tannins.  Black raspberry fruit.  Sinewy texture.  Great acidity.  Nice finish

2015 Jaffurs Syrah, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

Jaffurs makes a lot of wine, this is their basic Syrah and it is one of my favorite value wines from California.  77% Syrah, 9% Grenache, 9% Petite Sirah and the Mourvèdre.  This is warm climate Syrah that will drink early and cellar well.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, grilled meats, slight black pepper and a bit of roasted herbs.  On the palate, this has a lush texture.  It is delicious and always a crowd pleaser.  Deep with complexity that opens in the glass but will emerge with more cellaring.  Great on its own or with hearty of fatty foods.  Definite upside potentia

2013 Johann Michel Cornas, France, Rhone, Wine Review

Purple in color, ruby at the rim. The nose has black raspberries and clay.  Slight bacon fat.  On the palate, this has sour black raspberries.  That is interesting but really begs for food to counter the tartness.  Complex if still tight, it unwinds in the glass.  Medium tannins.  This is young and will benefit from a few more years of ageing.  

2012 Torrin Akasha, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Torrin is one of the most underrated wines out of California.  Maybe underrated is not the right word.  I just don't understand why it doesn't get the buzz it deserves.  To my mine it is one of the five top wineries producing Rhone varietals in California.  Yes, the wines are big, but so far, they seem to be ageing just fine.  This one is fantastic.  These are big, warm climate Syrahs that are similar in style to SQN or Saxum.  Purple in color.  The nose is great with black raspberries, grilled meats, and hot tar.  On the palate, this is lush with lots of fruit and medium tannins.  Black ra

2014 Denner Syrah, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, blueberries, spice, slight grilled meats and black pepper.  On the palate, this is a bit more restrained than I expected but still outstanding.  Black raspberries, blueberries, and slight earthiness.  With air some charred earth as well.  Nice texture.  Some complexity.  Enough acidity to work with hearty foods.  Good finish.  There is plenty of fruit and slight tannins; this seems like it might improve or it might just age out.  Either way it easily has a decade or more left.