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If these are the Rhone Ranger, call me Tonto

If you’re not aware, California Rhone wines have taken a beating in the press and blogsphere of late. Some of this abuse is deserved as many producers have failed to build the nuanced, food friendly, and approachable syrahs and petite syrahs found in the northern Rhone region of France.

These Syrah blends will not be confused with the maligned “fruit bombs” of other producers. Both are amazingly nuanced, balanced, and simply delicious.

Leviathan – 2009 Leviathan

DdV: 94
WS: n/a
WE: n/a
Price: $48.00
Blend: 25% Cabernet Sauvignon
21% Cabernet Franc
26% Merlot
28% Syrah
Source: Various – California

A little celebrated wine from a very celebrated wine maker: Andy Erickson.  Rich dark plum, dark currant, and blackberry all come together brilliantly with a nice long spicey finish. Understated and nuanced, this is a very good wine to pair with grilled steak, cornish game hens, lamb, or even some fancy burgers. A tremendous value for a wine of this quality. Fine right out of the bottle but is also wonderful if decanted.

Shafer 2008 Relentless

DdV: 95
WS: 96
WE: 94
Price: $60.00
Blend: 82% Syrah, 18% Petite Sirah
Source: Napa – Stags Leap District

This is another incredible wine from Shafer.  At greater than 15% alcohol you would think this has no shot at being balanced or refined…  and you would be wrong. On the nose, dark friuit, spice, and beef jerkey greet you.  On the draw and mid, dark plum, blackberry, and blueberry burst from the glass.  Finish is very long with hints of spice and light white pepper.  This is an elegant wine that will pair perfectly with roasts, short ribs, and dry aged cheeses. Decant to let some of that alcohol mellow out although is good right from the bottle as well.

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