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November 15, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week

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Sobon Estate Syrah Picmonkey

 2011 Syrah


Producer: Sobon Estate

Appellation: Amador County

Alcohol: 13.8%

Sugested Retail: $16


“It wasn't that many years ago that Syrah, the predominant grape of France's northern Rhône Valley, was the up-and-coming variety in California. New plantings went in, notably on the Central Coast and in the Sierra Foothills. For reasons nobody seems to have figured out, America's wine-drinking public hasn't embraced the variety to the degree expected. That's a puzzler, because California produces some very high quality Syrahs.

“This week's Pick, the 2011 Amador County Syrah from Sobon Estate, is a wonderful wine regardless of price. That it is well under twenty bucks, makes it also a bargain. It's a big wine, lush but not 'over the top.' The current vintage is 84% Syrah, 12% Petite Sirah and 4% Primitivo.

“This Syrah shows aromas of blueberry and plum. There's also some ground white pepper in the background and maybe a hint of that bacon-like character that creative reviewers sometimes describe as 'feral.' The first taste fills the mouth--it's rich and velvety and reprises those blueberry/plum qualities evident in the nose. The fruit is substantial, but the wine would be one-dimensional if that's all there was. Fortunately, there's much more.

“Those subtler aspects that make good Syrah so appealing become more apparent on second and third tastes and as the wine opens up in the glass. The white pepper background, maybe just a hint of brown spices and some of the 'roasted meat' character are all there, but in a understated way. Overall, this was a very satisfying bottle of wine.”

Food Affinity: “We encountered the 2011 Sobon Estate Syrah at a restaurant when we ordered it with a pizza. While that wasn't a bad pairing, this Amador County wine would be better accompaniment to many of the hearty dishes appropriate for brisk fall and winter evenings. Grilled fennel sausages might work. Considering this variety's geographic origins, how about boeuf en daube, a deeply flavorful French version of beef stew, or maybe a cassoulet?"

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