Monday 13 January 2014

The Results From The Swedish Syrah Jury!

Well, the Great Syrah Competition took some time to jot down. But here it is - the results are in!

Of the 15 wines we had to pick out 6 favourites and give them points in a strange system...but when the points had been counted, this was the total result:

No 1 - 1998 Côte-Rôtie La Turque, Guigal
No 2 - 2002 Sine Qua Non Just For The Love Of It
No 3 - 2001 Sadie Family Columella

I had the Guigal as winner, and on shared second place the Just For The Love Of It and the Astralis, see notes below.

All of this black wines got me thinking of one of the blackest albums - Dissections Reinkaos - one of my desert island albums.  I will illustrate some of the wines below with the "proper" songs from the album. :-)
Black wines goes great to black metal!

All wines tasted double blind. A great thanks to M & J for a great evening!
The rest of the bottles will show up in a post later.

1999 Boekenhoutskloof Syrah
This South African Syrah has always found a sweet spot on my tasting buds. But not on this occasion. The nose is big and smoky with notes of grilled meat, hot earth, sugared coffee and some Islay whisky smokiness. So far so good, but there is a dirty note to it that don't air of.
The taste is  big and fiery wih notes of grilled, burnt meat, dark chocolate, rubber and violets. A long, warm finish that show some unbalance. Very smoky. Good but not in the league of earlier vintages.
85p   (tasted 2013/12)

1997 Podere Il Bosco Syrah
M put us to the test here. Served from a magnum this was poured in glass 2 as well as glass 5 for us humble tasters. Did we figured that out? Nope.
The nose is big, deep and somewhat mature with notes of  meat, sweet raspberries, violets, earth and some flowery notes. complex and fine. This is from glass 2, the other glass showed more withdrawn and with more black fruit, go figure.
The taste is younger than the nose leads you to believe with notes of asphalt, licorice, blackberries and violets. Expressive and fine. A long and focused finish. Very, very good. The other glass showed even more of a tight structure with more tanninfeel and youthfulness. This magnum showed better than a single bottle a while back.
91p  (tasted 2013/12)

1996 Clarendon Hills Astralis
A gorgeously deep, mature and profound nose with notes of sweet blueberries, rapberry licorice, rose petals, eraser and some barnyardy notes. Impressive. Very hedonistic but at the same time focused and precise. Reminded me of the 1998 Fox Creek Reserve.
The taste is velvety yet broad over its shoulders with great notes of blackberries, licorice, violet pastills and meat that have hunged for some time. Well integrated tannins. A long, seductive finish. This is stunning.
96p   (tasted 2013/12)

"This is the realm of Azerate, eleven as one
Destroyer of cosmic order, extinguisher of the sun
In this place so sinister I shall find my dreams
Illuminated by the blackest flame
To transcend with dragon wings"

2001 Sadie Family Columella
This opens with a warm, spicy, beautiful nose with notes of just ripening raspberries, white peppers, balsa wood and sweet summer flowers. Deep and complex. Very, very good.
The taste is bigger than the nose leads on, with notes of blackberries, white peppered meat, blueberry pie and dried flowers. The finish is long, warm and intense. The tannins leaves a mark at the end, indicating that this needs some more time in the cellar.
93p   (tasted 2013/12)

"Our dark gods of chaos will return, this time to rule forever supreme
The dragon mother will then resurrect and end this cosmic dream"

2004 Viña Montes Folly
This has a big, ripe, almost slutty nose with sweet notes of blackberries, raspberry truffles, liquorice, eucalyptus and sweet summer flowers. Very much in your face but it keeps together. Very, very good.
The taste is big, tight and concentrated with notes of blackberry jam, orange peel, liquorice, raspberry truffles and violets. Lots of fiery tannins in the long finish. I feel a alcohol sting in the end. Very, very big. But in some weird way, I like it.
89p   (tasted 2013/12)

2003 Sine Qua Non Papa
If nothing else, I´m consistent - the second time in a year that I get this blind - and I have loathed it both times. As I said in the previous note, I usually love SQN, as the Just For The Love Of It proved just an hour later. But this is a train wreck.
The nose is like a bad blend of Syrah and Port with notes of burned almonds, Cherry Heering, motoroil, rotting flowers and VA, lot of VA. It is deep, I´ll give it that, but not in a good way.
The taste is massive, fiery and unfocused with notes of figs in liquor, rubber, glue and hot asphalt. The only thing that is noticeable in the finish is alcohol. This is a vulgar wine. Even worse than the previous bottle.
58p   (tasted 2013/12)

2005 Tua Rita Syrah
This Italian Syrah has a deep, sweet, tight nose with notes of black currants, sweet liquorice, sugared coffee, violet pastilles and some warm earth. Very good without being great.
The taste is young tight and expressive with notes of black currants, black olives, tar and hot gravel. A long, warm finish with lots of juicy tannins. Could surely evolve with 3-5 years in the cellar.
89p   (tasted 2013/12)

1998 Côte-Rôtie La Turque, Guigal
Aaaaah, the first sniff told me that this would be a great tasting experience. The nose is hauntingly deep, focused and intense with gorgeous notes of ripe blueberries, cigarr ashes, black peppered meat, sugared coffee and fresh herbs. A profound nose. It has it all, except for maturity.
The taste is like that well known iron fist in the equally known velvet glove, with stunning notes of blueberries, blood, crushed black peppers, violets and forest floor. The concentration is amazing. The finish goes on for two minutes. The 1998 La Landonne was perfection a while back. This is close.
98p  (tasted 2013/12)

"Bringer of nocturnal light
Grant us the powers of the eyeless sight
Unveil thyself our obscene Queen
And cleanse us with the Black Flames of your beauty"

2001 Les Apres, Domaine Cros
I tasted this when it was released almost ten years ago and I have gone through more than one case of it. I only have one bottle left, so it was fun tasting it tonight. It has been great all of its life, tasted last time in in the spring of 2012.
On this night the nose is deep, a tad mature and warm with notes of ripe blackberries, rosemary, raw meat, violets and some vanilla pods. Very, very fine. Deep and complex. Layers upon layers of sweet, black fruit with some cigar notes tossed in.
The taste is big and bold with lots of sweet blackberries, rosemary, rosehip, dark raspberry chocolate and warm earth. Very long and balanced. This is very, very good, and could easily be saved for another 5+ years, even though I don´t think it will get better.
93p   (tasted 2013/12)

"I invoke thee, possessor of all hidden keys
God of the unknown and the lawless ecstasies
Initiate me, thy most faithful child
In the darkest of mysteries and all pleasurable crimes"

2009 Clonakilla Shiraz
This beauty consists of 94% Shiraz and 6% Viognier. The nose oozes up from the glass with scents of violets, blackberries, ginger bread, coffee powder and a fine flowery note. Very refined. A stunning sweetness to the fruit.
The taste is young, elegant yet firm with notes of raspberries, blackberries, balsa wood, white pepper and dried flowers. A long, fresh finish with nicely polished tannins. This could turn out even greater with 3-5 more years in the cellar.
94p   (tasted 2013/12)

"Mighty god of darkness
All salutations to thee
Your gift of knowledge and rebellion
Will set our spirits free

2001 Torbreck Run Rig
M is generous to a fault - the first bottle was corked, so he got another one of this Parker favourite. But this is not a favourite of mine. The nose is big, brawny and all over the place with notes of rubber, blueberries made in a factory, glue and scorched earth. Some bacon fat after a while. And blood orange peel. It has depth, and character, but I don´t fancy it.
The taste is big, intense and forceful with notes of cooked blackberries, sweet liquorice, blood orange juice, rosemary and scorched earth. Very, very long, but the tannins, acidity and fruit doesn´t play together. If this come together, I guess it could create magic, but it does not do that on this night.
80p   (tasted 2013/12)

2002 Sine Qua Non Just For The Love Of It
Yes! Manfred rules! I have always loved SQN - the big exception is the Papa above on two occasions. This stunner has a deep, powerful, intense nose with notes of blood & iron, blueberries, rubber, Cohiba cigar and violets. Very, very fine. It has depth and refinement alongside hedonistic volumes of sweet fruit. Just great!
The taste is big and broad with everything in the right place. The fruit is marvellous and consists of ripe blue- and blackberries with some raspberries tossed in. Then there are notes of scorched earth, cigar ashes, coffee powder and violet pastilles. The finish goes on and on and on. Brilliant and not remotely in the same mould as the Papa.
96p   (tasted 2013/12)

"Kalika, black tongue of fire, embrace me
Make me one with your power for all eternity
Awaken within me the reflection of your flame
Kiss me with your bloody lips and drive me insane"

2008 First Drop The Cream Shiraz
Here they have tried to cram everything out of the grapes, and while living on the edge, it is a little too much for me. The nose is deep, intense and (overly) sweet with notes of raspberry jam, vanilla dusted blackberries, burned rubber, dark chocolate and some VA.
The taste is massive, tight and fiery with notes of blackberry jam, rose water, dark chocolate, vanilla oak and sugared coffee. A very long, warm finish. A very small sip is good but more than that, it verges on cloying.
81p   (tasted 2013/12)

1999 Greenock Creek Creek Block Shiraz
I usually associate Greenock Creek wines with soya sauce wines... - but not this one! This has a deep, upfront, lovely nose with notes of  sweet lingonberries, blueberry bushes, violets, lightly peppered meat and some pencil shavings. With air it becomes more Cabernet like. Concentrated and fine. Very, very good. There is also some notes of moist dog fur - in a good way!
The taste is tight, intense and complex with notes of ripe cherries, blackberries, lingonberries, liquorice, tobacco and tar. Very structured, tight and fine. Still rather young. Very fine.
91p   (tasted 2013/12)

M thought that there were too little Syrah on the table so this was produced as an encore:
2003 Côte-Rôtie Cote Blonde, R. Rostaing
A beautiful, deep and elegant nose with notes of sweet lingonberries, crushed white pepper, violets, rosehips and rosemary bushes. A little laid back, but oooh so fine and persistent. This is great!
The taste is medium bodied but oozes class and freshness with notes of just ripening raspberries, violets, veal meat stock and fresh herbs. No 03 warmth here, just a very elegant, structured wine with a long life ahead of it. A stunner!
95p   (tasted 2013/12)

"Napalm blood is burning in my veins
The ripping bliss of one thousand pains
Cleanse me from the haze of illusion
In the shining abyss of dissolution"


  1. Thank you for the excellent comments. It's not a surprise that La Turque 1998 was the winner. However, I'm very confused about the dramatic quality gap between the two Sine Qua Non wines. Where you more critical then the rest of the jury? /Claes

    1. Yes I was, but I thought it behaved exactly the same as almost a year ago. Every other SQN I have ever had have been good to outstanding - the Papa is not in that spann...

  2. You drink well my friend. The 1997 Bosco was the first vintage of that wine I enjoyed. It was really special. The younger wine from that estate is now here in the US for $12. I may have to see how good it is. The big "Bosco" is about $45 - but I haven't liked it as much at that price as in past vintages. Good notes.

    1. I try, John, I try! :-) I do think that the 97 Il Bosco (and also later vintages) have been better in their youth than mature, even though this magnum was really fine.