Qupé, a Santa Barbara-based winery, is known for its Rhône varietal portfolio, and I always like to see how wineries in other regions make Rhône varietals. Finding the wine in half-bottle for just $24 on the list at Nick & Toni’s on New York’s Upper West Side made it even more attractive. (Why don’t more restaurants offer good half-bottles?)
Nancy and I used the Syrah to bridge from our mid-course of a wood oven–fired pizza to our main courses. The wine offered nice violet aromas along with herb and dusty cherry flavors. A sanguine twinge chimed in on the supple finish. It was surprisingly Rhône-like, though I’m not sure how I feel about a California wine that seems to be trying so hard to be not-California in style.
That may be more a function of the cool 2007 vintage than the winemaker's intentional style, though only a touch of new oak is used. The wine also contains 2 percent Grenache, with fruit coming from 17 different vineyards covering Santa Barbara County, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Paso Robles and Edna Valley.
In the end, it’s a tasty bottle of wine—not overly complex, but harmonious with food and offering good character. I rated it 89 points, non-blind.