The wines I drank last night were very good, even excellent. I opted for two Syrahs that I had never tasted but were mentioned in your comments in my Dec. 4 blog: 2006 Owen Roe Syrah Ex Umbris Columbia Valley ($27) and Kinton Syrah Santa Barbara County ($22).
Granted, these were not cheap bottles of wine. I couldn’t afford drinking a bottle like that every night. But they were relative values and offered lots of fruit and character for the money. Tonight I am going to go and look for bottles that cost $10 to $15 a bottle. Any ideas?
Anyway, both Syrahs went really well with the grilled spicy pork and hearty lamb sausages. They cut through the flavorful, smoky meat with their vibrant fruit and soft tannins. I thought the Ex Umbris was the better of the two, with more balance and freshness, but the Kinton was rich and impressive. The latter turned a little too jammy as it warmed up in the glass, but some people may prefer it.
Here are my tasting notes:
2006 Owen Roe Syrah Ex Umbris Columbia Valley: Coffee, meat and tar aromas with hints of blueberry and blackberry. Full-bodied, with soft tannins and a bright finish. Citrusy as well as vibrant dark berry character on the finish. Love the brambly fruit to this. Clean. 90 points, non-blind.
2005 Kinton Syrah Santa Barbara County: Blackberry jam, tar and licorice aromas follow through to a full body, with lots of cassis and jam on the finish. Pretty wine, very dense as it opens. A little too jammy in the end. 88 points, non-blind.
I just looked up the wines in our database and I see that Harvey Steiman gave the Roe 89 points and James Laube scored the Kinton 87 points, so I am not too far off.
I am sure that most of you agree, but Syrah and other Rhône varietals offer much better value than Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and are more interesting. Think about all the stupidly priced California Cabs. The Syrahs last night were on the same level for me as a top St.-Joseph or Crozes-Hermitage. The Roe could even stand up to a few Hermitages. So they offered very good value and are examples of my mantra for the times: "We need $25 bottles that taste like $50 and $75 bottles."
Thanks for the recommendations! It made my dinner with my parents and children a feast and not just a simple meal.