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2005 Childress Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve, North Carolina

This was given to me by a good friend when I lived back in Ohio. She and her family visited North Carolina, and she brought some wine back to try. This is the first from the Carolinas I've had the opportunity to try. While three-quarters of the bottle is Cab Franc, it also contains 20% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium garnet red color. A medium intensity nose with red fruit, oak, and earthiness. One the palate it was clean, and relatively light to medium in structure, tannin, flavor, and acidity. Juicy red fruits. While I wouldn't call this a stellar bottle, it wasn't bad by any means. More importantly, it definitely has me intrigued to try other wines from the Eastern sea board!
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2006 Skylite Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley

A smoky and meaty wine with a mouthful of blueberries and just as dark and dense as ink. Believe it or not, I was served this wine with a dessert of cheesecake with a sweet cherry sauce on top. It worked. Oh my how it worked, leaving a finish of sweet dark port and milk chocolate. From dessert to game, this Syrah can handle it all.
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2007 Cowhorn Vineyard Syrah, Applegate Valley

Great example of domestic syrah made at the certified biodynamic Cowhown winery. That means no synthetic chemicals were used in grape-growing and native yeasts were used in the cellar. Big, dark boysenberry and blackberry fruit flavors, which are nicely balanced by an earthy finish. Good acids and 13.5% alcohol make it a good food wine. Personally, I would love to see them ease up on the new oak (it is a blend of old and new oak barrels at the moment). But honestly, most people would find this wine to be a big crowd-pleaser.
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2006 Gramercy Cellars Inigo Montoya Tempranillo

A blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Syrah from the Walla Walla Valley at Les Collines Vineyard, located at the foot of the Blue Mountains. I definitely knew it was Walla Walla fruit from the smoky nose that reminded me of autumn nights in the Walla Walla Valley. And just like the first time I enjoyed it a year ago, I found myself with my nose deep into the bowl of the glass constantly soaking in the familiar aroma. It is a very layered wine, which I feel is due to the addition of the syrah being responsible for the extra richness of the wine. Flavors of cherry and plum pies exploded in the mid-palate while leaving a long finish of caramel and crème brulée. To sum it up in one word: Elegant. For Catie’s full review see her blog Through the Walla Walla Grape Vine.
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2005 Patrick Lesec’s Bouquet

Lesec’s blend of Syrah and old vine Grenache (80%) is about as good as it gets for under $15. This beautiful wine is aged in stainless steel for great drinkability. It has a bit of an herbal and spice characteristic with a sense of terroir. Robert Parker gave the 2005 an 89. For a great wine that pairs well with food, you won’t do much better than Lesec’s Bouquet.
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2005 Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch, Cherry Ridge Syrah

The nose has ground espresso and cocoa powder, blackberries, and some leather. The palate comes at you with waves of flavors. Blackberries and coffee, plums, all make up the attack. Fruits sweeten on the mid-palate, adding some blueberry to the blackberry. The espresso changes to unsweetened cocoa. There is interesting minerality the expands from the attack through the finish. Leather shows up at the end of the mid-palate and lingers with black fruit on the finish. This is really good wine. It is not Aussie Shiraz, all jammy fruit. It is also not Northern Rhone Syrah, all earth and olives. This has good fruit, earthy coffee and chocolate, and great terroir minerality. For David's full two day review visit his blog, 2 Days per Bottle.
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2006 Château Signac, Cuvée Combe d’enfer

In 1989, the Swiss Amez-Droz family got an opportunity to buy this 90-hectare estate located just west of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which offered them several hectares of old vines of mainly grenache and syrah, with smaller amounts of mourvèdre, cinsault, counoise and carignan. This is exactly what goes in this tight, fruity, concentrated cuvée, with a backbone that old vines are especially good at bringing into a wine. At 13.5% alcohol, without any jammy, hot flavors, this unoaked wine goes beautifully with grilled meats, in particular lamb. It could also benefit from a few years' cellaring, to allow it to express itself more openly. You can read more tasting notes by Rémy on The Wine Case.