We were surprised and delighted to see our 2012 Syrah included in a blind tasting this spring by a small, exclusive group of wine critics in California. The judges meet annually in the quaint Sonoma wine community of Geyserville for the “Judgment of Geyserville”. Each year they select a theme, then select three examples each from various regions across North America.
This year, the theme they chose for their tasting was cool-climate Syrah, and the judges found superb examples from up and down the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington State and BC).
They noted one of the most difficult tasks of this particular judging was defining what “cool climate” means. The participants decided that in this case, cool-climate Syrahs come from regions that have somewhat cooler and longer growing seasons but are still capable of reliably ripening Syrah grapes each vintage. The goal was to find examples of Syrah that were not big, rich and overripe. Rather, they hoped to taste Syrahs that showed complexity that goes well beyond the jammy, ripe flavours often found from inexpensive Aussie Shirazes or California Syrahs — i.e. one reason Syrahs grown in France’s northern Rhône Valley are so great is the cooler climate — and the complexity of aromas and flavours that follows.
The participants consisted of :
- Mike Dunne – longtime wine columnist for The Sacramento Bee and one of the top wine judges in California.
- Ellen Landis, master of wine, former Sommelier for the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay California, and one of the top professional wine judges in the United States, wine blogger at Ellen On Wine
- Eric Degerman, president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine, is co-founder of Wine Press Northwest magazine and a regular judge across western North America
- Andy Perdue, editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine, is the wine columnist for The Seattle Times
- Ron Washam – former Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers’ Association, a regular wine judge for Bay area competitions, and writes the HoseMaster of Wine blog
We have summarized their interesting results (see the blog links above for the full articles), and we are thrilled that our inaugural 2012 Syrah was honoured with a silver (one of the 12 medalists). They describe the Vanessa Vineyard Syrah as:
“It is rare to find wines from the remote Similkameen Valley, which is west of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia’s Interior region. This is a classic cool-climate Syrah with aromas of wild mushroom risotto, dried herbs, jasmine and vanilla bean. On the palate, flavors of Marionberry and dusty black cherry are backed by juicy, fine-grained tannins. This will be fascinating to taste again in another half-decade.”
We look forward to many more “judgments” in the coming months and years!