The SOMM Journal

February / March 2016

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Page 119 of 132

{ }  119 Sud. Josh, Beverage Director for the NoHo Hospitality Group, which includes Lafayette, Little Park, Locanda Verde and the Dutch, enlisted two from Little Park: Kristen Goceljak, Beverage Manager, and Lindsay Gulics, Head Sommelier. Our lineup covered wines from ten countries, including samples from California and Washington State, and prices ranging from $20 to $138 (SRP). The tasting was generally arranged from cool-climate to warm, with Rhône wines setting the stage. Whispered notes overheard at the two ends of the table included oak tannins, strawberry Pez, pink Tums, hamburger, green, "toasty-toasty," talcum, lactic, sour cream, yogurt, bramble, dense, rustic, violet . . . and dog food. Clearly, the tast - ers were confronted with a new world of sundry descriptors packed into a historic definition of Syrah. At the gate, Team Madrigale correctly identified the five Rhône wines by region and Team Nadel identified three; both teams had near hits on the appellations. "Our attack on a subregion is St. Joe and Crozes are so close together, it's half a dozen of one and six of the other," Josh said. But, he added, "there should be a reason to call it Cornas versus Côte-Rôtie or Hermitage." Often, though, that reason wasn't appar - ent, as wines from New Zealand, South Africa and Santa Barbara were taken for Hermitage; one from Lisbon and another from Santa Barbara mimicked Côte-Rôtie, and the bottles from Spain and Cortona were thought to be Cornas. Frequently the tasters remarked that the producers— whoever they were—were all familiar with excellent Rhône winemaking. Still, many bottles were chameleons. "With these New World–style wines, the question is, where is it from? You're play - ing detective, trying to find something that connects you to a place," Mike said. With some wines, he said "the sweetness and oak are really taking you anywhere and it's like trying to find an anchor." Josh agreed. "It is interesting to note how many times we ended up discussing 'is this an Old World wine made in a New World style, or vice versa?' [It] speaks to Syrah's malleability." He added, "It's encouraging to see Syrah can be grown successfully all over the world. That being said, I believe wine should have a sense of time and place: Syrah from Italy does not qualify in that regard, and with the wealth of indigenous varietals in that type of Old World environment, what is Syrah's raison d'etre?" Echoing his earlier remark about ideal Syrah, Mike noted many of the global Syrahs were full of flavor and heavy. "For me, that's not what one is looking for when you are looking for Syrah. In good Syrah, there's a savoriness—peppercorn, smoked meat . . . when you make Syrah in other parts of the world you deviate too far away from those characteristics." Joe added, "An interesting aspect was the herbal mint and cocoa notes that came out of the non-French Syrahs. Whereas the clas - sics usually show olives and savory herbs." From Josh's team, Lindsay said that Nerantzi 2010 Syrah, Macedonia, Greece ($37) Smoky, spicy bouillon, showing secondary aromas and flavors. Very high-octane in style; interesting and tasty. FREDERICK WILDMAN & SONS Fable Mountain Vineyard 2011 Syrah, South Africa ($35) Very generous wine. NW-OW style, but well-made. Dark, deep, fruity, jammy and powerful. SKURNIK WINES Three Rivers Winery 2012 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Washington ($39) Concentrated dark ripe but not overcooked fruits. Food-friendly, tannic, "something quite Old World about this wine" "would provide a lot of pleasure to a lot of people." FOLEY FAMILY WINES M. Chapoutier 2011 Monier de la Sizeranne Hermitage, France ($135) Candied, riper fruit, a little more concentrated; leafy, briney. TERLATO WINES Ogier 2012 Syrah La Rosine IGP Collines Rhodaniennes, France ($40) Aromatically interesting, with some nice violet. Good acid, red fruit, not very concentrated, but good "entry level." ROBERT KACHER BEST IN SHOW

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