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.

2013 Domaine des Tourelles Marquis des Beys, Lebanon, Bekaa Valley, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2013
Score: 
88
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$20.00USD

This is a 50/50 Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend from the Bekaa valley in Lebanon.  It is a reasonably priced wine and well worth the price of admission.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, spice and a bit of char.  On the palate, this is tasty with black raspberry fruit.  This is about easy drinking in the near term.  No tannins.  It probably needs to be drunk soon at this point (it is already six years old).  It will go with a wide variety of foods.  Obviously mid-eastern foods come to mind, but it will work well with Indian foods too.  

1988 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage, France, Rhone, Wine Review

Vintage: 
1988
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$600.00USD

Beautiful showing for this thirty-one year old wine.  While I don't think it will get better, it still has plenty of life left.  Garnet in color, clear and bright.  The nose is earthy with cherries, slight funk and a bit of dried fruits.  On the palate, layers of black raspberry fruit, earth and slight funk.  Deep and complex.  Enough youth and acidity to keep things interesting.  This is at peak.  It will work better with food at this point.  Roasted meats and vegetables, stews but also Indian food would be great.  Should easily last another ten years if well stored.  

2014 J.L. Chave Sélection Hermitage Farconnet, France, Rhone, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$80.00USD

OK, this one surprised me and exceeded my expectations.  This is again what Chave calls their negociant line but they do own the vineyards.  It is about one fifth the price of the Estate Hermitage.  I am not sure what I was expecting but those expectations were low considering the above and that 2014 was not a great year in the Northern Rhone.  Well, this wine was delightful.  It may not make three decades, but for the next decade, this is an awesome Syrah.  Purple in color.  The nose is great with black raspberries, violets, black pepper and slight barnyard.  Medium tannins.  On the palate

2016 Martin Clerc Côte-Rôtie, France, Rhone, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
88
Grade: 
B+
Current Price: 
$55.00USD

Another wine from this relatively new producer.  This is a very interesting style of Côte-Rôtie and is what I assume is traditional.  It is a much lighter style of wine and for those looking for a low alcohol, low oak alternative for Syrah in general and Côte-Rôtie in particular, this fits the bill.  Deep garnet in color.  The nose has cherries and a bit of brown sugar.  Almost candied.  On the palate, this is very soft.  Notes of cherries and iced tea.  No tannins.  Slight black licorice on the finish.  This clocks in at 13% Abv.  It really is a food wine and will do better on the dinner t

2012 Saxum Broken Stones, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2012
Score: 
97
Grade: 
A+

Saxum is one of my favorite wineries so no surprise, but this is outstanding.  It has really opened up since last tried reinforcing my belief that despite what some say, these big reds are best after ten years in a good cellar.  This is made from 79% Syrah, 7% Petite Sirah and the rest Grenache, Mourvedre and Roussanne grapes.  Inky purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, white pepper, roasted meats and slight violets.  On the palate, the texture is wonderful.  Velvety with excellent acidity.  Complex and layered, this unwinds in the glass.  And, it is delicious with black raspber

2011 Saxum James Berry Vineyard, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2011
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$110.00USD

This was a difficult vintage in most of California, but Saxum seemed to handle it just fine.  The wines, do, however, seem to be drinking a little earlier than most vintages.  The 2011 Saxum's are ready to drink but no hurry on any of them.  This one has at least another decade but it probably won't get better.  That is fine because it is outstanding.  Purple in color.  The nose has black raspberries, smoke, black cherries, red currants and slight bacon fat.  On the palate, there is nice black raspberry fruit with some black cherries over some pepper and charred earth.  A nice backbone of a

2018 Château Minuty Côtes de Provence M, France, Provence, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2018
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$21.00USD

I don't know where you live, but here on the shores of Lake Erie, its been a wet, cool spring.  That might be good for the grapevines, but its put a bit of a damper on drinking outside.  But, it looks like we finally made it.  Time to open up some Rose!  This is a very attractively packaged rose from Provence.  A blend of  Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah. It is quite pale pale salmon pink in color, clear and bright.  On the nose, this has lots of fresh strawberries, slight hint of orange peel and and a nice minerality.  On the palate, this has a bigger texture than it light color might lead o

2014 Torrin The Banshee, USA, California, Paso Robles, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$70.00USD

Another stunning wine from Torrin.  Still a bit young but starting to show some development especially with a few hours in a decanter.  This is 50% Syrah, 26% Mourvèdre and 24% Grenache.  Inky purple in color.  The nose is great with a  meatiness reminiscent of the northern Rhone but vibrant fruit that says California sunshine.  There is also some black pepper, plums and slight floral notes.  On the palate, this has a great texture.  Black raspberry fruit intertwines with black pepper over a smoke and earth base.  It is pretty big right now with firm tannins.  This should continue to develo

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