Let’s have a nuts & bolts, side-by-side look at two Syrah-based wines - Cline Carneros Syrah 2002 ($18), and Domaine des Blagueurs Syrah-Sirrah (Bonny Doon’s “Eurodoon”) 2003 ($10).
Cline / Doon
Color: indigo / dark red
Fruit Scents: black plum / red cherry
Other Scents: toasty vanilla / black pepper hints
Flavor: cooked berries / cherries & earth
Tannins: soft & round / slightly astringent
Finish: fairly long & lush / tart & abbreviated
Score: *** / **.5
Had I simply judged the wines on scent & aroma, Eurodoon would have won my nose over.
The Cline’s scents were a bit overpowering - big lush fruit & toasty/caramel-y vanilla; whereas Syrah-Sirrah offered more subtlety and complexity on the nose. However, the result was reversed once I took a sip/slurp/spit. Even though Cline’s Syrah could be a poster child for the new world wine style (big, bold, showy), it was overall a well-structured wine. The flavors were integrated (perhaps that extra year in the bottle helped), the tannins pleasant, and the finish memorable. In other words, nothing felt wrong or out of place. Eurodoon lost me after my initial sip. I enjoyed the cherry flavors and earthiness in the beginning. But then the wine felt slightly disjointed with abrasive/astringent tannins and a moderately jolting, tart finish.
Cline Syrah - roast chicken & pesto pasta (very good pairing)
Eurodoon Syrah-Sirrah - slow roasted wild duck (decent pairing)
Neither wine is bad and I freely admit to comparing apples and oranges (different vintages, origins and price-points). For a complete, albeit slightly overpowering, wine experience, I’ll take the Cline. As an impulse buy, or WineBloggingWednesday #16 candidate, I’ll take the Doon (turn the bottle upside down and it looks like Sirrah the Jester is giving you the international sign for “you’re #1, pal.” Ahh the Bonny cheekiness.
[update: I sampled the balance of Doon's Syrah-Sirrah with a baked potato smothered in chili and found it to be much more appealing. Perhaps it was the wine's second day of breathing that did the trick; perhaps it was the spices in the chili that woke up the Syrah. In any event, I would now rate this wine at 3 stars (out of 5)]