Here at my apartment building I have a Friday night dinner group who cook together, share what the week was like and now get to enjoy wines that I pull out of what seems to be a bottomless cellar. This past Friday I pulled some really interesting reds, all which have Syrah as part or as the only grape, and all that were so very different.
The 2013 Sparkman Cellars Wilderness. This wine remains one of my favorite Washington State reds. As far back as the 2009 vintage, the oddball blend, that seems to change from year to year, just amazes me a few years after release. The 13 is entirely different than the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc-based blend. This is more dark grape-based, with Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and some Cab as well. The wine is super smooth, elegant, long on the palate. It's also very, very easy to drink. So easy, it was gone, in a flash. Now, here's the backstory surrounding Sparkman. It was 2012 and my wine rep friend Rita DiLello and I had made a trip to Seattle to see her sister Linda, dine at Linda's restaurant, Terraplata, and hit the wine country as part of celebrating a friend's birthday. We headed out to the Woodinville Wine Warehouse district and on a lark, stumbled into Sparkman's tasting room. They were holding a fundraiser for a charity back in New Jersey that had been hit by Hurricane Sandy. The offer was simple. Five dollars. Five shots with a Nerf basketball. Put one in and win a Magnum of the 2009 Wilderness. On the third shot, BOOM, I hit nothing but net and won the Magnum.
2015 Patrick Jasmin Syrah Vin de Pays de Collines Rhodaniennes "La Chevalière" This is one of those hidden gems. I first found out about this wine by accident, with the 2013 release. I bought half a case and am down to the very last bottle of the 13, but for the 15, that I first tasted in Marseille in 2016 after buying a bottle days after release from Antic Wine in Lyon, France, had me searching for it in the USA for months. It finally arrived in, and I immediately bulked up with two cases from The Wine House in Los Angeles. Now that the wine has settled down, the Northern Rhone Syrah, which is really the young vines of Cote Rotie, really was a powerhouse. While it doesn't have the elegance of Cote Rotie, as Northern Rhone Syrah goes, you won't find much better value for money than this. Silky smooth, ripe, lots of blueberries, some black pepper and blackberry are the flavors. A long finish and like the Sparkman, a wine that didn't last long in the glass or on the table.
2014 Ex Umbris Syrah, Washington by Owen Roe. When I first opened a bottle of this gem a few years back after it arrived, I was surprised how rich and tannic it was. But it was only about one year in bottle. To be candid, I was disappointed then, as I just was expecting more. So I did what I usually do when wines are too young. I put it in the cellar and then let it rest. Well, the two years or so rest has done the trick as the 2014 Ex Umbris was a powerhouse. With BBQ chicken and BBQ 100% All Beef Burgers it was FANTASTIC. It's lost that baby coating of oak and has become a very integrated North American Syrah. I would compare this in flavor more like the Aussies, then the French. It was more brambly and bright. It was firm, not soft. And it was very, very tasty.
Buying wines like these three are not for those who want to open them up upon release. They all need time. But with time they will give you joy for many years.