Petite Sirah

$20 Above: Shafer Relentless 2009

Shafer Relentless 2009

Date Tasted: 3/15/13

Price: Suggested Retail is $63.00 (Purchased for $62.00)

From The Winery: 15.8% Alcohol. 82% Syrah, 18% Petite Sirah. Napa Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: I picked up Shafer’s 2009 Relentless about a week after the 2008 vintage was named as Wine Spectator’s 2012 wine of the year. Good thing, too, because this wine was flying off the shelf. Given the ratings pedigree for the Relentless, Shafer could easily command more than the extremely reasonable price of $60ish. Let’s hope that they keep the price in that ballpark. The 2009 Relentless is one powerful wine. “Power” and “powerful” were repeatedly jotted down in my notes–not because I like to repeat myself, but more so that I’ve drank a lot of Syrah in the last few months and I haven’t tasted any that packed a punch like this one. It presents with a deep purple color. Big black and blue fruits, particularly plum and blueberry, are beautifully complimented with incense, saline, dark chocolate, expresso, pralines, and sweet spice. There’s a strong oak presence, but this wine is more than large enough to handle it. Full-bodied in the mouth, with big yet tamed tannins and an incredibly long finish. The ABV pushes 16%, but there is little to no heat on the back palate. It’s an incredible wine, and one of the better values in the Napa Valley.

Rating: Stellar (95), 4.5/5 Value 

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Syrah 3 Comments

$20 Above: Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel 2009

Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel 2009

Date Tasted: 1/1/13

Price: Suggested Retail is $30.00 (Purchased for $25.00)

From The Winery: 14.8% Alcohol. 95% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Sirah. Fruit is sourced from the Benito Dusi Ranch Vineyard, Paso Robles AVA.

Impressions/Notes: This is the first vintage of Ridge’s Paso Robles Zinfandel that I’ve tasted and it’s quite a contrast from the Geyserville and Lytton Springs Zinfandels that I’m more familiar with. Rich blackberry fruit is the predominant aroma/flavor in this wine, while black tea and light leather in the background. Moderate plus oak compliments the fruit well. It’s loaded with sweet, jammy fruit, but there’s plenty of balance to keep this wine well away from fruit bomb status. Fine tannins fill the back palate. Although the 2009 Paso Robles is not as complex as many of the other Ridge Zins that I’ve tasted, it’s a delicious wine and I certainly recommend it.

Rating: Recommended/Highly Recommended (88-92), 3/5 Value 

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Zinfandel 2 Comments

$20 Above: Ridge Geyserville 2009

Ridge Geyserville 2009

Date Tasted: 9/28/12

Price: Suggested Retail is $35.00 (Purchased for $30.00)

From The Winery: 14.3% alcohol, 74% Zinfandel, 17% Carignane, 6% Petite Sirah, 2% Alicante Bouschet, 1% Mourvedre. Ridge has made the Geyserville as a single-site zinfandel in every year since 1966.

Impressions/Notes: I reviewed the 2008 vintage of the Ridge Geyserville earlier this year and the 2009 vintage had a lot to live up to. Quite frankly, the 2009 is stunning. Loads of boysenberry, plum, and strawberry intermingled with chocolate, truffle, spice and cedar. While Ridge’s 2009 Lytton Springs is still flexing it’s muscles, the 2009 is exuding elegance, displaying typical Ridge balance and featuring a strong acid backbone. It’s medium bodied, mouth-coating, and packs explosive flavors in the mouth. The finish is spectacular–I don’t recall a longer lasting, more pleasant finish from any wine that I’ve tasted this year. A killer value and a must-try.

Rating: Highly Recommended/Stellar (92-96), 4.5/5 Value

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Zinfandel 4 Comments

$20 Above: Ridge Lytton Springs 2009

Ridge Lytton Springs 2009

Date Tasted: 9/3/12

Price: Suggested Retail is $35.00 (Purchased for $30.00)

From The Winery: 14.5% alcohol, 71% Zinfandel/23% Petite Sirah/6% Carignane. Ridge has made the Lytton Springs as a single-site zinfandel in every year since 1972. Vineyard Location is in the bench and hills separating the Dry Creek and Alexander valleys, just north of Healdsburg, California.

Impressions/Notes: I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the last unofficial day of summer than by drinking a Zinfandel–not just any Zin mind you, but a Ridge Vineyards Zin. The 2009 Lytton Springs did not disappoint. It’s muscular, concentrated, and displays considerable depth. There’s a wide spectrum of aromas and flavors, with minerals, cassis, plum, cocoa powder, allspice, and a smidgeon of forest floor. The acidity is more than strong enough to balance out the 14.5% alcohol content–there’s only a small bit of heat on the throat–the tannins are dusty, and the finish is ultra-long. This wine should only improve with a bit of cellaring

Rating: Highly Recommended (90-94), 3.5/5 Value

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Zinfandel 4 Comments

$20 Below: Michael David 6th Sense Syrah and St. Francis Red Splash

Michael David 6th Sense Syrah, Lodi, 2010

Date Tasted: 04/07/12

Price: Retails for $16.00

From the Winery: 15.5% alcohol

Impressions: This is a big one, like put on your boxing gloves big. Deep in color, with leather and coffee aromas dominating on the nose, and a smidgeon of blackberry. Mouth-filling, with smoky flavors. I noticed some Petite Sirah-like characteristics and indeed the winery’s website noted that there was some P.S. blended in. In need of some serious decanting before serving.

Score: 17/20


St. Francis Red Splash, Sonoma County, 2007

Date Tasted: 04/07/12

Price: Retails for $10.00

From the Winery: 14.5% Alcohol

Impressions: An interesting blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Zinfandel. Aromas of extra-ripe plum (almost overly ripe), sweet spice, and blackberry with toasted vanilla flavors in the mouth. A very flexible wine for food pairings– my favorite local restaurant often features this wine during happy hour so I’ve had it on several occasions. Not great, but consistently good.

Score: 16/20

Posted on by Nick in $20 Below, California, Red Blends, Syrah Leave a comment