Monday, October 28, 2013

**** Chez Ray Alexander Valley Syrah, 2006, Sonoma CA

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Original Review, September, 2008: The Chez Ray Alexander Valley Syrah, 2006, from Sonoma, CA, is from 2006 Brehm Vineyard grapes made using an unorthodox cool-fermentation technique. Consider it still a work-in-progress, needing additional age. But let's see how it's doing...

Color is medium red, lightly bricking at the edges. Aromatics bring charred oak, with touch of clean, dark fruit. This may be reflecting the dark-toasted oak staves used in the process. On the palate, first note is a hot and sweet middle, fruit coming in second. Though the alcohol is indeed hot, the wine is still somewhat light on its feet, rolling and building around your tastebuds and up into your cheeks.

I'll go with three stars out of five, using the Spirt of Wine scale. In what may be typical of this cool-fermentation technique, the wine shows a high-pitched, aromatic side along with its deeper body. Kind of like a pinot noir blended with a zinfandel.
Following a full day's decant, the Chez Ray Alexander Valley Syrah, 2006, opened out quite a bit. Still three stars, but an improvement over the right-out-the-bottle pour. Suggests promise with aging. Often a full day decant (in wide-bottom decanter) is a bit too much for a wine to handle.

Updated review, two and a half years later, April, 2011:  Color has held fast, medium red with brick edges.  The aroma is of medium weight, solid syrah, no longer dark.  On the palate, a wonderfully balanced mushroom and medium dark fruit syrah, with lifting acids and just enough sandy tannins to remind you this wine still has bones.  A full point jump to four stars.  Remarkable improvement with a couple of years of age. Following long decant, several days in partially-filled bottle under vacuum at room temperature:  Brighter metallic aromas now.  Surprisingly, a touch brighter on the palate too, but with much of the same outstanding balance.

Updated review, another two and a half years later, now seven years from vintage date, October, 2013:  Same color; same solid syrah nose.  Medium dark fruit on the palate, now reclining gently in the rocking chair; not old, but wanting to settle down.  Still some brightening acids.  Yummy red fruit.

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