Saturday, October 9, 2010

Syrah, Desert Hills, 2007 Select (revisited)

A new year, a new vintage of Syrah from one of my favorite BC wineries, Desert Hills ( ).

All the wine-world, it seems, is going through a period of unprecedented growth; in volume, in diversity, and most importantly in terms of quality. Desert Hills is no exception. To think that only 15 years ago, the very first vines were being planted there, and already they have become a fixture in the BC wine landscape.

     Did you know that over 100 restaurants in the Lower Mainland carry their wines?

     Did you know that they have a fortified wine in the works?

     Very exciting to be able to witness this transformative time in our industry, and then, be able to sip the rewards of this long and dedicated labor. Cheers to BC wine!

2007 Desert Hills Syrah, Black Sage Bench, Okanagan, BC
14.3%, $35 CAN (not listed by BCLB, only speciality wine stores)       Very Good Value!
2010 Canada's over all best red wine of the year,
Double Gold,  Gold International & Silver Tasters Guild International

  • visual: deep dark plummy blackcurrant color with the barest hint of orange-cherry rim
  • nose: moderate++ to fully intense dark fruit to start (baie noirs; think blackberry jam, stewed plums), followed by leathery oak and garrigue (savory herbs; wild thyme and hints of sage), roast beef, wild game
  • palate: moderate+ acids, moderate++ tannins (slightly chalky), moderate+ to full- intense palate mimicking the nose admirably... cherries come through on the palate that I didn't notice on the nose (and Saskatoons), mild peppercorns (pink) at the end
  • PAIRING: every Christmas my father, the intrepid at-home chef, and I make grilled venison steaks with a blueberry and thyme compote. That dish was made for a wine like this. Use rich beef flavors to compliment the almost Chateauneuf-du-Pape qualities, use berries, try a duck breast with cherry & be suprised at how the wine seems to lighten to compliment. In essence, I'm always trying to either compliment an existing note in the wine, or sharply contrast. For example, I may contrast the moderate+ acids here with cheese or cream: Morbier goat's cheese from France would work well, on grilled bread rather then fresh bread (my own preference)... but the true joy, I think, is discovering your own pairings.
Overall, what a wonderful wine for $35! Full of flavor, and nuanced in the bouquet, what I would say is please decant! I tried this wine within 2 minutes of opening, then after 30 minutes of decanting, then after an hour (+) of decanting, and it was a world of difference. Allow yourself this wine the time to show all of its splendor. Decant a minimum of (1) hour. Alternatively, I agree with the winemakers that this wine can be cellared for 5 years with ease, and will drink well for several years past that... IMHO, this can be enjoyed 2014-2020, and realistically, no one could buy a wine of this quality for $35 after its had the chance to cellar properly for another 2 or 3 years.


Saturday, 29th January, 2011

On a cold, wet, windy afternoon what better to do then re-visit an old friend? An here-in I have done just that; cracking open a bottle of the 2007 Desert Hills Syrah to see if it can't warm my old bones a little...

  • visual:     same as above; clean; deep garnet core with slight cherry rim
  • nose:     deep and fully intense bouquet showing signs of development with the blush of youth; dark berries (blackberry, black raspberry, saskatoon) appear first followed by some red berry (chery, raspberry, light red currant), moderate oaking, some small amount of savory herbs and more predominantly after sufficient decanting is a wonderfully rich florality of irises and hibiscus. Slightly spicy white pepper finish.
  • palate:   clean; dry, moderate+ (raspberry) acids, moderate (soft, velvety) tannins, moderate+ ABV, moderate+ body, moderate+ to fully intense youthful flavors showing some signs of development; red berries dominate (raspberry, cherry, cranberry) followed by some stewed blackberry and plum, leathery French oak, wild herbs are more noticable on the palate then the nose, lingering finish of floral notes and some mild vanilla. Excellent balance, beautiful structure, long finish.
  • conclusion:   What a beautiful wine and what a wonderful treat on a miserably wet Saturday in January... drinking well now, this wine will benefit from some further aging, and will drink well 2012-2015 with ease.
  • PAIRINGS:   same as above; duck, venison, pheasant if you're feeling "plucky" (pardon the pun)... try as a first course pumpernickle crostini rubbed with roast chives and chevre, topped with some duck carpaccio. The depth of the pumpernickle off the black berries, the chives do the same, the chevre off the acids and a mild game meat like duck off the milder tannins
     Thank you very much to for giving me a bottle of this wonderful wine to try... it is as much a delight because it's from British Columbia as it is in and of itself. Always a marvel to me just how much BC winemaking has grown in the past decade... 10 years ago I was hard-pressed to find BC wines I truly enjoyed, and now I find it just as difficult to keep up!

CIN-CIN~!!!   SLAINTE~!!!   CHEERS~!!!

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