Random Musings

Pick My Next Bottle – 2007 Syrah Showdown

The November installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on some of the very best domestic Syrah producers. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this weekend and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.

The producers I chose make some of the very best examples of domestic Syrah:

  • Saxum – Saxum Vineyards is focused on producing Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre based blends from the Templeton Gap/Willow Creek area of Paso Robles. The winery was founded in 2000 by Justin Smith and the 07 James Berry Vineyard was the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year.
  • Lillian – Maggie Harrison was assistant winemaker to Manfred Krankl of Sine Qua Non for eight years before moving to Oregon to take over the wine making position at Antica Terra. Lillian, founded in 2004, represents Maggie’s personal project and reflects everything that she learned during her time at Sine Qua Non.
  • Cayuse – Cayuse was founded in 1997 by Christophe Baron, a native of France who grew up in family of winemakers in Champagne. Baron studied viticulture in Burgundy and Champagne, and had ambitions to make Pinot Noir in Oregon. However, on a visit to Walla Walla he found property that he believed would be perfect for growing grapes, and purchased the land.

The Contenders

  • 2007 Saxum Booker Vineyard – The inky/purple-hued 2007 Booker Vineyard (95% Syrah and 5% Grenache) boasts a floral-dominated bouquet with camphor, blackberry, roasted meat, and espresso scents in the background. The density, flavor intensity, richness, full-bodied power, elegance, and freshness are all hallmarks of this special vintage in the Central Coast. This wine should drink well for 10-12+ years. 99 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2007 Lillian – Opaque purple. A kaleidoscopic bouquet evokes black raspberry, cola, incense and olive tapenade, with a sexy floral quality that gains power with aeration. Lush, palate-staining dark berry preserve flavors are complemented by exotic spice and violet pastille qualities and are lifted by zesty minerality. Gains weight with air but retains its energy, finishing spicy, smoky and with outstanding persistence. 94 points from Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar.
  • 2007 Cayuse Armada – The 2007 Syrah Armada Vineyard (100%) was aged in Rostaing puncheons, one of them new, for 30 months. Aromatically, it is the most brooding and Cote-Rotie-like of these Syrahs with notes of smoke, meat, game, garrigue, lavender, and blueberry. The most tightly wound of the Syrahs, it is the one that will most profit from several years of cellaring. It should offer prime drinking from 2014 to 2027. 98 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 2007 Syrah should I open?

  • 2007 Saxum Booker Vineyard (36%, 19 Votes)
  • 2007 Lillian (36%, 19 Votes)
  • 2007 Cayuse Armada (28%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 53

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another.

Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the December Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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9 thoughts on “Pick My Next Bottle – 2007 Syrah Showdown

  1. Tom, I voted the Saxum because I have a bottle of 2007 Saxum in my cellar now. I would love to here how it is drinking! The Lillian sounds delicious as well, and I love the Cote Rotie style of Rhone Syrah of the Cayuse. But the Saxum gets my vote so you can share what I have to look forward too!!!

  2. Beautiful line-up, Tom! I’m sure that all three selections are wonderful right now and ready to enjoy. The 07 Saxum Booker is probably the most “beastly” of the three, if the 07 Saxum Bone Rock is any indication. So, I’d open the Booker last. I’ve never tried the Cayuse Armada or the Lillian but for some reason my impression is that the Lillian will be more open earlier compared to the Armada. Thus, my choice for “Pick My Next Bottle” is the 07 Lillian. Cheers!

  3. Based on others’ reviews, the Lillian appears the most approachable now. My brother has a Saxum and all he says is ‘not yet’ when I visit him.

  4. I’m curious how the Saxum has developed. Certainly all 3 of the wines are special but the Paso Robles wines get knocked for being over the top. Let’s see how it does!

  5. I thought the use of Rostaing puncheons was very interesting and was curious to see what difference they made. I’d love to try all of these wines.

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