Syrah Nation

It is interesting to contemplate the different styles various varieties can be made in. Petite Sirah and Carignane are made in two quite distinct styles. Cabernet can be made in a couple of styles–and we’re not just talking about *lots of oak* or *no oak*. Pinot has probably 3–maybe 4–styles. Riesling can be made in a myriad of styles. Chardonnay has 2 styles–but we weren’t going to talk about oak, and that pretty much defines the 2 types of chard. Zinfandel is made in two styles–but with zin, the two are simply the GOOD way and the BAD way. Grenache is a chameleon, and KING of duality is of course Cab Franc: getting its own BOTTLE for each style. And then there’s Syrah, a grape a lot of people think is boring. “NOBODY can sell Syrah” is a famous rep-mantra. Excluding the bullshit outliers at the extreme like Manfred Krankl and Russell From, the whole band somewhat fits into a core profile. If that makes it boring for you, you’re probably boring too, as I find the situation ripe for objective contemplation.

This wine in front of me is probably the most age-worthy Syrah I have ever tasted. Structured like the Cornas of olden days–some of the olive-pit and barnyard replaced with California sunshine, but still: a ridiculously dense, concentrated black wall of wine–not terribly hi alcohol–the ripeness tempered with absorbent acid and the baseline of structure a seamless line from entry grit through intense green-brier through sweet delicacy through obliterating tannin. You don’t even feel it happening. There are no breaks in it, no bumps. No oscillations or awkward edges.

And where is the fruit? OMG the fruit is EVERYWHERE. There’s no fruit that starts here and grows there and fades here and re-emerges there. The fruit is just balls-to-the-walls throughout–WITHOUT even the eyebrow-raise towards sluttiness. Did I just call it demure? Puritanical? NOTHING this gracious can hide its pure SEX, but it is a classic, buttoned-up sexiness. Skirt to to mid-ankle, sleeves to wrists, neckline carefully buttoned, and yet there’s nothing that can hide the writhing curves–even in all black. The buttery wood, olive oil and sagebrush in the nose ties muddy petrichor to the mid-palate, the sweet cherry floral drips from nose-to-tongue, fooling you with fresh vibrancy before inundating you with vein-scraping grit. These two pairs leap-frog over each other continuously into the finish so effortlessly, tannin can almost be ignored.

Buy 2 cases of this and drink one a year.

2018 TERMINIM Syrah Alder Springs Mendocino Co. 14.0

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