Dark-minus claret in color with a nose of light oak and good fruit. Get a lot of dark cherry, smoked meat and leather aromas. The wine is dry with soft tannins, good acidity and low heat. This is a nice food syrah at 13.5%, and really appreciated to see a Napa Syrah that's not a glass of syrupy, caramel flavored bigness. Drink it now, it's on the tail end.
This is my last bottle, and it is definitely the best. One of my few positive garagiste experiences. Popped and poured. A little tar, clove/nutmeg/thyme, and bloody meat on the nose. Significant red fruit (plum). Tannins are smooth. Thyme/tarragon finish lingers for a while. For the price, this is awesome. I wish I had more.
Irresistible from PnP. A couple of years ago this seemed a bit austere, but now it's singing. Initial nose showed some telltale Syrah tar, but from there it went on an evolution that seemed at times a bit Pinot and a bit Cab Franc, but a common thread was a neat spice - allspice, nutmeg - and bramble, with high red fruit notes interlaced with dark fruits, sometimes seeming nearly baked, but never heavy. All the time it had a mid-weight profile with finishes that lasted until the next sip, but not at all heavy or extracted. Patience paid off. Drink up.
Based on the fact that I bought this from Garagiste, I was somewhat surprised that this wine started off with lots of oak, but it softened and diminished with time. Stewed plums, rubber tire and leather on the palate. Lingering finish with bramble and eucalyptus. More Rhone style and flavors than the typical Cali Syrah.
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If you are a skier and lover of the romantic and magical moments of life, take a few moments to watch this. In a city that defines the word “enchanting”, Paris has never been more so than last week: http://bit.ly/dYE1fz
- Jon Rimmerman ********************* Songs
Does California possess terroir?
Before my fellow citizens to the south get all ruffled and grumpy over a subject that seems to divide the wine community, allow me to propose several questions that have no definitive answer (but deserve greater discussion):
Do the top growing districts of California circa year 2010 have the ability to express lithe, low-alcohol varietal definition as they did in the 1960s and 1970s? Is it possible to mesh this with vineyard specific terroir? Even further, would that potentially peaky/acidic expression of terroir more closely associated with the Old-World offend 90% of the Golden State’s current vinous admirers? Does the domestic industry know this and, having backed themselves into a high-octane corner over the last two decades, purposely attempt to blanket California’s ability to express itself in exchange for sales movement?
Now we are getting somewhere.
I’ve been asked some semblance of the above questions for many years and I’m usually taken to the woodshed for my response. I tend to say something like “yes, the land and climate possess this ability but the hand of man tends to obfuscate it”. While that response is a massive generalization (California is a rich and diverse vinous, geological and climactic growing region), the state is at a distinct terroir disadvantage not only due to climate but also due to pervasive winemaking techniques that stress a youthful, delicious result rather than a potentially true one. In addition, due to 2003-like Southern Rhone growing conditions more years than not, nature has dealt many of California’s famous growing districts a trump card against them before the first hand is played. If 2003 were the norm for Old-World grape growing, you would hear plenty of complaints from across the pond as well – or would you?
What if 2003 occurred in France, Germany, Italy et al every year? What if that style was what we were raised on, what we had come to expect as terroir expression of the Old-World? What if simple, everyday café wine in Paris was thick-textured and 15.0% alcohol regardless if white or red simply because that’s all the country and climate had to offer – even in Sancerre or Bordeaux? How is that scenario different from the current crop of 14.5-15.2% alcohol Chardonnays being produced by top winemakers in California – wine that enthusiasts on our side of the ocean cannot get enough of (see Aubert/Marcassin)? Therefore, is our notion of terroir cut from a cloth impressed more by what we are used to, more by the specifics of hot and cold growing conditions throughout history, than by the actual land itself? I would strongly argue yes.
If California, and specifically Napa Valley (as it always bears the brunt of generalizations for the entre state), the brand name notion of terroir that has been marketed to the world since 1990 is one of hot climate, big and rich, dark colored and cowboy friendly. To this end, one side of Napa Valley encourages an aesthetic that brings to mind Nils Venge on one of those bucking-bronco machines and the other side, one of extreme monetary exclusivity in line with Harlan. Regardless of imagery or your pocketbook, both sides agree on one thing – sunshine equals sweet, dark fruit and power.
So, what happens when we yearn for the opposite? What happens when a cool vintage and retro/sustainable/philosophical winemaker get together in Napa?
2005 29 Songs Syrah.
Never heard of it?
With only 280 cases produced, this winery is on to something very hard to come by in the Golden State (from a commodity as well as esoteric standpoint). Without over-ripe caramel syrup or 15% alcohol in sight (more like 13.2%), their goals bear little resemblance to many of their Napa neighbors but their obsession with detail certainly does. Surely something of this significance deserves our attention or will it be overlooked by consumers and “professional” tasters as a black sheep or silly little diversion?
Instead of rehashing what can best be said by the one-man-band behind 29 Songs, Kelly Wheat, take a few moments to peruse his thoughts:
(I'm not sure if there are community TN’s on the 2005 yet, you may have to check the 2004 for general impressions)
If you are a fan of old-school California, the obscure and/or the Northern Rhone in general, this is a wine to study. In addition, our own winemakers from Washington State would be well-served to partake of a bottle or three of the 2005 29 Songs – if Napa Valley can produce Syrah of this ilk, is Washington State really the new frontier with the grape or has that frontier been sitting in front of us all along?
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as a sensibly priced peek into a world that is distinctly its own...just be sure to give it a few hours of air.
As an incentive and exclamation point on today’s musing, I am offering the wine at half-price:
2005 29 Songs Syrah (back porch block) Napa Valley - (compare at , they only produce one wine so any listings you see are for this, no matter how they are worded; in addition, the wine is not from Howell Mountain)
If you have any interest in this wine, please let us know at your earliest convenience (see 280 case production above).
FIRST COME FIRST SERVED up to 12/person at this price (50% off) until we run out...
To order: email@example.com
This parcel will arrive directly from the source in a week or so (please check OARS for local pick up after Dec 18th). It will ship during the Spring shipping season.
Out of state orders will be held for free under ideal storage conditions (56 degrees/70%humidity) until shipping is possible. Locals may pick up at their leisure.
For current local pick up and arrival/ship information, please see your OARS link below (at the bottom of this offer) - don’t know how to access your OARS? Simply click the link and see your account. You can also paste the link into your browser. If you are having trouble with your link or your account, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
NO SALES TO RETAILERS OR WHOLESALERS
Jon Rimmerman Garagiste Seattle, WA
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(29 Songs Syrah, Napa Valley) It may be criminal to recommend this glorious wine, since it’s a micro-micro-micro-production lot from the nonpareil Jamet imitator, Kelly Wheat. A bit riper than its Côte-Rôtie counterparts, it nonetheless exhibits many a precise layer of dark berry fruit, bacon fat, cracked pepper, tar, and purple violets. As with my other high-end pick, its most seductive aspect may be its round, talc-like tannins, which give this graceful wine a serious heft. From a small parcel in Carneros, this ranks among California’s finest cooler-climate Syrahs. Hot Picks
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