Sunday, November 20, 2016

2007 Cayuse En Chamberlin Syrah: tasting notes

We had this wine for my birthday yesterday. First, let me show you a rating and review, from 2011:

100 points Wine Enthusiast
  In a stunning lineup of Cayuse Syrahs, the En Chamberlin wins by a nose. It’s smooth and silky, with a tongue-bending blend of flavors that include blood and iron, umami and salt, at first overtaking the pure fruit, but adding tremendous depth and power. The endless finish unfolds into a wine with exotic spices and complex layering.   (2/2011)
Parker gave it 98 and Spectator gave it 94, saying it would peak through 2020.

When our bottle was opened and poured, there was a brief bouquet of nice fruits, and then a smell of some kind of chemical showed through; it was a wine flaw and mildly negative. On the palate the wine was OK but very plain, not showing much of anything. There was a long finish but it was of alcohol only. Both of us agreed this was not a 100 point wine. We swirled it in our glasses a lot, hoping to wake it up, but it didn't change, all through the dinner. This bottle was a poor pairing for a great dinner; it fell very far short of expectations. Later on, the wine was throwing out the smell of celery, which was an improvement. And at the very end--the last couple of milliliters of wine in my glass, after an hour and a half and the dinner long over and when we were getting ready to leave--the wine had finally blown off the chemical smell and I smelled and tasted cherries. Who knows whether this experience would be repeated in another bottle, and it is dangerous to overdraw conclusions from just one bottle, but I am leaning towards drinking my Cayuse within five years, and not letting it get nine years old, no matter what the reviews say. I know that Cayuse wines have characteristically very high pH, and protective sulfites in a wine don't work as well when pH is high, which suggests perhaps the wines will be better when relatively younger and worse when older.

FYI: I paid about $85 for this bottle, from the winery.


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