Sunday, May 08, 2011

Winemaking Experiment: Comparison of Three-Year-Old Syrah Fermented with Two Different Yeasts

Find prices and retail availability for Alexander Valley syrah.
Here we are comparing two syrahs, both made at the same time with the same winemaking techniques with one difference: yeasts.  Here are the two contender yeasts and wines:

Assmanshausen (AMH) 534-07AWSS - 2007 Alexander West Side Syrah, Sonoma CA (SA8A)

VQ15, now generally called RP15 534-07AWSS - 2007 Alexander West Side Syrah, Sonoma CA (SA8V)

They are both made from frozen grapes secured from Brehm Vineyards from the 2008 vintage in early 2009.  You can review the winemaking plan in this post.  

In the glass, both wines show a consistent deep burgundy color, opaque in the middle.  The Assmanshausen veers toward brick at the edge while the VQ15 veers towards purple.

Following four hours of decanting in glasses, the Assmanshausen shows a solid fruit, deep and with a tangy edge, perhaps a touch of menthol coming through.  The VQ15 brings deep, potent dark cassis fruit forward, soft, sleek and powerful.

For the palate, Assmanshausen is solid, thick in the mid-palate, with a tip-of-tongue stimulating acid that comes along towards the end.  The finish takes these acids and lets them slowly recede to a clean finish.  The VQ15 is full and spreading burgundy velvet on your mid-palate, bringing just-dark sweetness across your palate.  Yes, there is an acid there too, but subdued.  The finish rides on minerality and tannins.

To me, there is no question, VQ15 (RP15) better evokes the qualities, character and potential of this Sonoma syrah.  I'll stick with it for my deep red fermentations.

VQ15 (RP15) was selected from work with winemaker Jeff Cohn from spontaneous RockpileVineyard  syrah fermentations in California.  It is recommended for use in concentrated reds, particularly zinfandel, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and merlot where a moderate fermentation rate is desired along with a rich, lush, balanced mouthfeel and full body.

Find prices and retail availability for Alexander Valley syrah.

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