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Syrahs, Sirahs and Shiraz: Double Blind Tastings

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DOUBLE BLIND TASTING on 03/97 -- A mix of 5 syrahs, shiraz, shiraz blend and petite sirah.

The Contestants:

1. Pin d'Alep (France) cepage pur Syrah, 1994 Alcohol: 12%. Price: ~ $6. SEE ALSO tasting on 11/95

2. Queen Adelaide (Southeastern Australia) 50% Shiraz, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1994 Alcohol: 13%. Price: ~ $5. 3. Guenoc (California North Coast) Petite Sirah, 1991 Alcohol: 12.5%. Price: $15 ($7 -- yes $7! -- at End-O-Bin in Louisville. But I bought the last bottles they had.) SEE ALSO tasting on 11/95 4. Rosemount Estate (South Australia) Shiraz, 1995 Alcohol: 13%. Price: $14. 5. McDowell (Mendocino, California) Syrah, 1993 Alcohol: 13.5%. Price: $12. Overall Comments: Generally people were not too enthusiastic about the wines, although I personally thought the Guenoc was great and the Rosemount very good. The Guenoc petite sirah ranked as the clear winner; it was everybody's favorite except for JK, who thought the flavor didn't last, and TED, who didn't like the biting character at all. The shirazes scored in the middle; several judges were able to note the cabernet character blended with the Queen Adelaide. (The Queen Adelaide -- an inexpensive wine -- might be a good bargain for those who gave it good scores.) The syrahs scored poorly, seeming shallow and thin compared to the others. Hopefully, in future tastings we will find better examples of this varietal!

My own personal comments: "#3 and #4 stand out from the bunch as fine examples of their varietal. #1 and #2 are shiraz, #3 petite sirah, and #4 and #5 syrahs. But this is based only on an inebriated tongue, pre-conceived notions, and problematic reasoning." [NOTE: I was partially correct, but mistook the Rosemount for syrah and the Pin d'Alep for shiraz].

I was terribly disappointed in the Pin d'Alep, for I had tried it before (11/95) and found it a complex wine at a bargain price. How could our reviews be so different? A different batch? ... our tastes have changed? ... 16 additional months in the bottle?

Congratulations to judge BW, who identified 3 of the 5 wines correctly (confusing only the two syrahs). Also, a nod to MED for introducing the terms "boof" and "boofless". SPECIAL NOTE: The day after the wine tasting, the daughter of judges MED and TED spoke her first words: "Boof! Boof! Boof!"

DOUBLE BLIND TASTING on 11/95 -- 4 petite sirahs.

The Contestants:

1. Bogle California Petite Sirah, 1992 Alcohol: 12.5%. Price: $7.

2. Foppiano Sonoma County (Russian River Valley) Petite Sirah, 1992 Alcohol: 13.5%. Price: $10. 3. Guenoc North Coast (Lake County) Petite Sirah, 1991 Alcohol: 12.5%. Price: $15. SEE ALSO tasting on 03/97
Additional review sent in by the feedback form from Paul Harwood (received 1/12/97):
  • REVIEW: Recently tasted this wine - among dozens of others - at a wine & food show. It was easily the BEST. Absolutely classic Petite Syrah. Overjoyed to see others acknowledge this. $21.30 (Canadian) makes it pricey, but worth every penny. Guenoc has a talent for bringing out the best of this grape. Bravo!

    ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Winemaker (Peter Brehm the supplier); have made Rutherford Bench Petite Syrah, and blended with Grenache (Ukiah) to create a superb Rhone. Would not think of blending the Guenoc!

4. Glass Mountain Napa Valley Petite Sirah, 1990 Alcohol: 13.0%. Price: $9.

Overall Comments: The clear winner was the Guenoc, picked as the favorite wine by all of the judges. All of the judges also chose the Glass Mountain as their number 2 choice; at $9 it appears to be an excellent buy. The Foppiano came in third and the Bogle finished last, although nobody seemed to dislike any of the wines.

Individual summaries as follows:
SD: I really like these wines. They are all different and have their own good points. I haven't a clue as to which is which. And ranking these will be difficult.
PB: There is a quantum difference between 3 & 4 (good) and 1 & 2 (o.k.).
ME: I like them all / From 1 to 4 / But without a doubt...

The Bogle was apparently easiest to guess; 5 of the 6 judges correctly guessed its identity. The other wines were each identified by half of the panel. Congratulations on our reviewers JG, ES and LS, all of whom correctly guessed the identity of every single wine.

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