There is no other way to say it - they're making classic French Syrah in Washington State. S. & JPH went out to do the shopping today, and while they were at Marquis Wine & Spirits, Michael told them to try this Syrah from the Hedges Family Vineyard in Benton City, WA. It fit with the menu; tonight was going to be steak night: Rib-eye, farm-stand tomatoes, potatoes & corn, and voilà the fixings for a fresh summer dinner.
The label is classically French. You really have to study it to figure out what you are drinking. It is all there though, in script and fine print. AVA Red Mountain, 100% Syrah, Estate bottled, 926 cases; 14.2% ETOH. That is an American improvement on the French label! After he opened the bottle, JPH brought me the cork to smell, all I could smell was fresh jam. Deep dark blackberry jam. It was the smell of promise.
He poured S. a glass, and she smiled "MMMMM this is really good". He took a sip "Wow". and I soon followed. It really was a smooth, elegant flavor. Cassis was my first note. S. got the finish when she said "cognac". That was it, caramel. The finish was a whisper of caramel; and the smell... vanilla, just smelling it added to the joy of drinking it.
Then we tried it with food. S. put a dash of salt on a slice of Brandywine Tomato and said, "I know it sounds crazy, but try a bit of salt in a tomato, and then try the wine." I did, and she was right. "Wow". And with the steak and potatoes that JPH cooked on the grill, well, let's just say we ate and drank really well. This wine elevated an already delicious meal.
A strange thing happened though. As we contemplated just how much to buy, and we checked out the Hedges Family Estate Website to find out more about this wine, I thought, "Hey, if I am going to review this, I should try an aerated glass." It was the most dramatic aeration that we have ever done. It ruined the wine. As JPH said, "It sucked the fruit right out of it". We really wondered why, what is is about this wine that reacted so badly when it went through the Nuance? It didn't seem delicate, but we wondered how it would age if a simple aeration could render it almost unpalatable. I still don't understand the science of wine, but I do understand taste. All I can say is, buy a bottle of this wine, open it and enjoy it. It is fantastic - just don't aerate it.