Posts Tagged ‘Syrah


a day at failla

Our trip to Wine Country began early Friday morning as we checked out of our hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf and into an estate car back to the airport to pick up the rental car (one of the limitations of booking with United Miles). From there it was a fairly easy drive over the Bay Bridge and up I80 through Oakland, with a quick job over to 29. We stayed at the new Best Western Ivy Hotel at the northern end of Napa. After we checked in and got settled we headed to our first winery of the trip: Failla. This a beautiful little winery nestled at the base of the mountains in the Northeastern corner of St. Helena off the Silverado Trail.When we arrived we were greeted like old friends. On the walls of the entry way stood proud but empty reminders of festive holiday parties past, including old Failla Jordan labels (would have loved to have been able try one of those Syrahs!). We were taken into what will eventually be the living room of the family home once the new caves and tasting rooms are completed just up the hill. The feeling was very warm and cozy with a large river rock fireplace and a decidedly Adirondack feel!

The river rock fire place.

A view if the porch.

We were to be joined by one other couple, so while we waited we were poured some of their 2009 Sonoma Coast Chard, which was just lovely with nice pear notes and a lovely and crisp acidic finish. Since Erhen Jordan spent quite a bit of time making wine in Rhone, his wines are decidedly Old World in personality with a nice balance of New World terroir. We were also treated to a taste of their very limited production (185 cases) 2009 Edna Valley Viognier, Alban Vineyard, of which the French Laundry gets but one case! It had a wonderfully floral nose and bright yet round palate and clean finish. I would have bought a bottle if they had any! Once the other couple arrived we got to revisit the Chard and tasted two Pinots and a Syrah.

The Chard and Viognier.

Both of the Pinots were exceptional. The first to be tasted was the 2009 Sonoma Stage that had a nose of autumn leaf and spice, with a rich, lush and spicy palate. The tannins were silky smooth and the finish lingered on like a fond memory of camping on a brisk fall weekend. The second Pinot we tasted (and the one we brought home) was the 2007 Peay Vineyard, which hails from the Sonoma Coast near Mendocino. The nose was ripe with spiced cherries and hints of leafy smoke. The mouth was treated to a lush palate of red fruits and velvety tannins and a finish that brings tart cranberry and crisp strawberry flavours. The last wine we tasted was the 2009 Phoenix Ranch Syrah, which I absolutely loved with it’s big warm nose of spiced dark fruits and sweet tobacco leaf and rich palate of plum and blackberries, aggressive tannins and velvety chocolate finish.

The tasting line up.

The spoils of tasting.

Sipping the Peay Vineyard pool side.

The Estate Chardonnay enjoyed at home.

If ever there was a way to kick off a weekend in wine country this was definitely it and we can’t wait to return. Not only to taste more of Failla’s wonderful wines but also see the new caves and perhaps sit on the inviting porch and sip some vino in the crisp and clean St. Helena air. Visit them online at Failla Wines


revisiting an old friend from Spain

I’m no Parker. I cannot remember every detail of every wine I’ve ever tasted. Perhaps this says that I don’t have as sophisticated a palate, or perhaps it just means that I can remain more objective when I try a new vintage of a wine I’ve had before. Either way, I love to try new vintages of my favourites and a lot of times I prefer the newer one. I also love to go back and compare notes to see how consistent the wine and my palate are, or how divergent. So, I bought a bottle of the 2008, La Cartuja, Priorat, which I absolutely fell in love with when I first had the 2007 (Parker gave that one a 91). And I love this one as well. The 08 is a blend of 50% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. It is oak-aged for 8 months in French oak barrels and is subtle and elegant with a nose evocative of wet river rocks and just picked raspberries. It’s expressive without being overwhelming with whiffs of oak emerging with spicy notes of fine black pepper and dark cherries. The full-bodied palate is lush and supple without being too heavy. The fruit flavours caress rather than coat the mouth. Rich flavours of black berry and dark cherry are balanced with toasty notes of oak and underlying hints of loamy minerality, which really give this wine a definite sense of place. The tannins are silky and almost sweet and provide a perfect structure that leads into a long smooth finish laced with just a touch of cherry acidity. This Priorat drinks wonderfully on its own but loves food as well with the guts and body to stand up to roasted or grilled meat dishes and the poise and elegance to work with lighter dishes with a little spice to the and for $16.99 you can’t go wrong either way; an absolute bargain for a Priorat!

And under the twinkling lights of my patio

Cheers and Keep Tasting!