Last week I attended a huge wine tasting hosted by the San Francisco Chronicle. The event showcased wineries from over 25 states that competed in the nation's largest wine competition. After the judging takes place — at another location on an earlier date — the newspaper hosts an impressive, almost overwhelming, public tasting. Although I tried countless wines, here are the bottles I plan on seeking out in the future.
Normally when I reach for a bottle of red wine, I grab a Zinfandel or Pinot Noir. Only recently, while at a Syrah tasting, did I wonder why I've been neglecting Syrah. At the tasting, there were plenty of wonderful Syrahs, however, Tallulah's 2004 offering ($28) was the most memorable.
From the Sonoma Coast, this Syrah has a dark plum color with delicious aromas of cherry and pepper. It's an elegant, soft, full-bodied wine — that is neither too bold nor too fruity — with an intense finish. I would pair it with a cheese plate or a rich pasta sausage casserole. The nostalgic label and moderate price range, make it a great gift wine.
Over the weekend I had the lovely opportunity to taste many of California's Rhone-style wines at the Rhone Rangers wine tasting. I'm not too familar with the Paso Robles wine-making region, so it was exciting to taste what they had to offer. While I enjoyed sipping both the Syrah or Grenache, I found that the Rosés better complemented the sunny Spring day.
One that stood out was the Arroyo Robles 2006 Syrah Rosé. Normally I don't love Rosé, but this wine was smooth and uncomplicated. It has a lovely, rosy pink color with a fresh fruity aroma and it tasted like Summer in a glass. At $21 a bottle, it is affordable enough to purchase now and enjoy when the weather actually warms up.