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Senior editor James Molesworth joined Wine Spectator in 1997. He reviews Bordeaux, the Loire, the Rhône, South Africa and New York's Finger Lakes.
James Molesworth

A California Syrah that Evokes the Rhône

Qupé Syrah Central Coast 2007

James Molesworth
Posted: September 17, 2009

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.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Syrahs from California, plus our quick list of Top Values in California Syrah.

Kathy Marcks Hardesty
Pismo Beach, California  —  September 17, 2009 5:02pm ET
I couldn't agree more about the half-bottles, James. And about Robert "Bob" Lindquist's Qupe wines. There's a reason he's one of the most respected Rhone wine producers in the country. For your reader's information, a full bottle of that Qupe Syrah is only $17, but in a restaurant I would have purchased that half-bottle, too.
James Molesworth
Senior Editor, Wine Spectator —  September 17, 2009 9:26pm ET
Kathy: Just to clarify, the prices quoted in WWDN are the prices we paid for the wines - so that was $24 for a half bottle on a restaurant list. Standard retail markup for a 750ml is $17...

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