Que Syrah Syrah Syrah! A Comparative Review of 3 Texas Syrahs

…but this is not just any comparative review. Daniel Kelada has provided an interesting twist on this month’s Texas Wine Review: Three Syrahs from three single vineyards and from three consecutive years.

by Daniel Kelada, Wine Writer, Texas Wine and Trail; Founding Director of the Texas Wine Journal

The Texas Wine Review is a column that aims to provide insight and reviews of Texas wines using a professional evaluation approach while encouraging the discovery and enjoyment of wines from across the State of Texas.

Flat Creek Estate

Texas Hill Country, Estate Syrah, 2011 
Time Open: 58 hours
Glass: ISO
Date/Time of Evaluation: 3/19/2015, 8:42pm

Dark cherry in color with hints of bricking. A nose of raspberries, wild flowers, dried leafs and herbs along with a soft savory woodsy tone. On the palate the wine reveals thinner fruit of spice laced cherries, raspberry jam and a warm toasty expression coming through as graham cracker; that results in a wine that is structurally balanced and both lean and ripe. While the acid and alcohol structures are balanced, they are also prominent. This wine is uniquely styled between what is expected from an old world and new world Syrah. Savory components, lean fruit, prominent acid all point to the old world. Ripe fruit, elevated alcohol and focus on oak aging are classically new world. A terrific example of Texas Syrah and the most food friendly of three wines in this comparison.

DK | 16.75/20 – 89 Points

William Chris Vineyards

Texas, High Cross Vineyards, Syrah, 2012
Time Open: 58 hours
Glass: ISO
Date/Time of Evaluation: 3/19/2015, 8:50pm

A very pretty dark cherry thats verging on red violet in color. It is a wine still in its youth as evident by the tight transitions. It gives off aromas of cordialed black and blue fruits, rose water, maple and perceived traces of dark, not quite lead, minerality. On the palate the wine demonstrates a very fruit forward nature of cordialed blue fruits, figs, sweet spice and the slightest hint of something savory. The wine has a very enjoyable mouthfeel and overall texture that adds layers of complexity to what otherwise would be a pretty simple wine to figure out in terms of flavors. While it doesn’t show classic Syrah characteristics in terms of spice, grilled meats and abundant savory elements, it is still an incredibly enjoyable wine that is full bodied, poses the ability to age and has a moderately long finish.

DK | 17/20 – 90 Points, TWJ 91 Points

Salt Lick Cellars

Texas Hill Country, Mailes Vineyard, Syrah, 2013
Time Open: 59 hours
Glass: ISO
Date/Time of Evaluation: 3/19/2015, 9:10pm

I would expect a 2013 Syrah of any significant quality to show some telltale signs of its youth in terms of a dark almost opaque extract, a red violet color that is almost verging on blue violet and a very tight gradation of color in the glass. This wine has all those. Perfect in appearance. The nose is slightly reductive giving off notes of dark chocolate, star anise and medicinal mixed berries. Sweet rosemary, cinnamon and a healthy use of French oak are standouts. It is to-be-determined if more varietal typicity will come through with age, assuming that some of the reductive notes will fade or integrate. On the palate, I can’t help but ask if this wine is even Texas. It’s rich, opulent and super big. Words like sexy and hedonistic come to mind. The integration of structure, texture and overall bigness of the wine are seamless. While additional complexity will develop overtime through aging, I can’t help but love this wine now. Of the three wines in the comparison, this has the least amount of perceived acid, which it may just be hiding underneath all the size and extract. This is the most California-like Syrah from Texas I’ve ever had. It doesn’t need food; what it needs is time and a corkscrew.

DK | 17.5/20 – 91 Points

Daniel is a Executive Sommelier, Master Candidate and Senior Wine Instructor with the International Wine Guild and through the Guild teaches accredited wine certifications and seminars in Texas and around the country. He has a background in BioChemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and in 2008, he founded GUSTO Tastings, a wine education company with expertise in consulting and event curation. He is a founding partner in Vinovium Partners, a Texas négociant that specializes in premium wines on tap from Texas and abroad. Daniel is also the Tasting Director for the Texas Wine Journal, a subsidiary of the Texas Wine and Food Consortium.

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