Circling Back

Loyal readers will know I am usually eager to crown this one of the bang-for-your-buck Syrah beauties in California: year after year. I’m actually kinda surprised I didn’t think of adding it to my *Bargain Syrah* short-list a couple weeks ago. I also preach heavily that producers of quality Pinot almost ALWAYS make killer Syrah. But I’m gonna pull back a bit on this one. I bought several–I have ever since the early-2000’s–and this is the first one I’ve opened. It’s changed names several times–and flip-flopped back and forth between cork and Stelvin (including one vintage I have BOTH of! I mean: WTF?)–and seemed to have settled on a rather lackluster *Central Coast* denotation the past decade. But it continues to be wonderful–I have made the unpopular statement numerous times it is the best wine they make, as loyal followers will also remember I run kinda cool-to-lukewarm on HP’s Pinots. But enough about that.

Purple-blue at the core, thinning to ruby with a hint of garnet out to a thin clear rim. Dark, burnt-ish and soiled in the nose, the fruit a BLACK cherry with a clearly concentrated and dessert-y provenance. Despite the heated sweet roundness, it’s actually somewhat closed-in: something I’m actually calling a slight POSITIVE in this case. It’s chunky and thick, syrupy and too rich: MUCH more crowd-friendly for its sub-$20 price-tag than the lean funk and briar typically winning Rhone-praise from me.

Flat and dull in the mouth, and intake showing two opposing diversities: the thick ripe berry from the nose and a bitter juxtaposition. “Bitter” almost ALWAYS is a good thing from me–and it makes the 99 click away, thankfully–but here it is awkward and off-balance. It doesn’t seem to be coming from the normal lovely *bitter* sources: briar and tannin and pepper and acid. Here it’s just an odd spectre hanging over flabby fruit–causing the fruit to feel shallow and enhancing its cloyingness. The finish is rather *smooth*, again pronouncing the chubbiness of the body and berry and not accentuating anything charming or spirited–things necessary in this variety. It’s a rather boring wine, feeling manipulated and watered-down.

2016 HITCHING POST ‘Big Circle’ Syrah Central Coast California 13.6

http://hpwines.com/

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