Wine Recommendation
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Wine Recommendation

Joseph Phelps Syrah

Joseph Phelps Vineyards

2001 Syrah
(Napa Valley)

I like to play a little game of sorts with myself and my friends when I taste a wine for review. The other night, over fabulously rich braised short ribs at the always consistent Cortez in downtown San Francisco, we had the 2001 Phelps Syrah (it’s not on the list, but it should be). We all agreed what a wonderful wine this is. I then asked my buds to guess the price. (I don’t like to know the cost before I taste a wine because one is easily prejudiced by such information.) The responses ranged from $25 to $50. I myself thought it was a $40 wine.

When I learned that it indeed came in at $30, I was thrilled. But the price is not the best thing about this wine. The best thing is the wine. It’s so delicious and so well put together, that all of us simply loved it. Among a quartet of my friends, being unanimous on anything is a rare occurrence indeed.

From the glass there are aromas of spice, minerality and black cherries. On the palate the first thing one notices is the almost perfect pitch. That is, the wine is so well-balanced with those same spice and fruit characteristics. In the end, it’s one of the better California Syrahs I’ve tasted recently. It has good body and structure and will continue to age for another six or seven years.

The wine spent 19 months in new French barrels (30%) with the remainder in 2- 3-year-old used wood.

Reviewed August 10, 2006 by Alan Goldfarb.

The Wine

Winery: Joseph Phelps Vineyards
Vintage: 2001
Wine: Syrah
Appellation: Napa Valley
Grape: Syrah / Shiraz
Price: 750ml $30.00

Review Date: 8/10/2006

The Reviewer

Alan Goldfarb

Alan Goldfarb has been writing about and reviewing wine for 17 years. His reviews have been published in the St. Helena Star, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Examiner, Decanter, and Wine Enthusiast, among others. Not once has he used a point system, star system, or an iconic symbol to quantify a wine. What counts in Mr. Goldfarb’s criteria when judging a wine is: how it tastes in the glass; is it well-constructed; its food compatibility; and presence of redeeming regional attributes.