2005 Syrah - Odyssey Vineyard
Syrah •Odyssey Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
What We Say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Enkidu Wine.
NOTE: This mission was headed up by Spy Dog, a fully vetted Wine Spies field operative. Like all operatives, her identity is closely guarded. She can be seen here in a rare photograph on a covert mission to Northern California, where she spied today’s wine:Our Spy Dog on a recent mission
Mission Codename: A dog in the house of Gilgamesh
Operative: Agent Spy Dog
Objective: Humansit Agent Red while he visits some Sonoma County wineries – and retrieve a fantastic wine
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Enkidu Wines
Wine Subject: 2005 Odyssey Syrah
Winemaker: Phillip Staehle
Yes, I am a dog. But no ordinary dog; I am Spy Dog and I hang mostly with human Wine Spies agent, Agent White, down in our Beverly Hills enclave. Recently, though, I was called upon to humansit for Agent Red – and visit a few Sonoma County wineries with him.
My origins? When Agent White became a Wine Spy, I was quick to follow. You see, Agent White had me smelling wines and when I turned my nose up at certain wines that he also thought were real stinkers, he realized that I would make an excellent Wine Spy myself.
Soon after, White began taking me on missions to wineries. I let my skills shine through by showing him how much I knew about viticulture, winemaking and vineyard rodents. I mostly helped Agent White select new wines.
Today, I go on missions throughout California and I enjoy telling my human Wine Spies which wines are the best.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile (as described in less refined human terms):
Look – Deep and inky purple-to-pink at the edges, with thick, slow-moving legs with tight spacing
Smell – Black cherry with smoked orange rind, green olive, dark plum, and a wonderful earthy white pepper
Feel – Great mouthfeel on this wine. Its wet, cool, loose and grippy, with wonderful medium all-over-mouth tannins
Taste – Enkidu is right when they say that “the flavors mirror the aromas”, and I pick up slightly tart cherry, and blackberry. Yummy!
Finish – Exceedingly long, with tannins and flavors that linger on and on…
Conclusion (By Agent Red) – Spy Dog let me write this part of the review for our human readers: We have tasted some exceedingly great Syrah of late, and this one is no exception. This Syrah exhibits all of the qualities that I love in a great Syrah; wonderful mouthfeel, great flavors that don’t overpower, beautiful aromatics and the classic fruit and white pepper that I have grown to expect from the best California Syrahs. Upcoming, The Wine Spies will be choosing the Best Wines of 2007 (those that we tasted and featured here in 2007) and this wine makes the cut for judging!
Spy Dog Reporting – Last week, Agent White flew up to Northern California in our Cessna Spy Plane. I sit in the Pilot’s seat, he rides shotgun. I let him do all of the flying because he loves it so much. Its fun, but I wish the plane had windows that rolled down so I could hang my head out.
Our visit was to include visits to local wineries, and some strategic briefings with our other Agents. Agent Red met us at the airport and, bless him, had a great biscuit for me. (note to Agent Red: Please tell Agent White to change to his brand of biscuits. His taste like neutral oak barrel staves! Eeeew)
Red had an immediate mission for us, but White needed to rest up after the flight. After we arrived at our N. Cal safehouse, I told Red that I’d be accompanying him on the mission and jumped back in the car. Agent White now secured, we were on our way.
Our first stop was at a famous winery. It was a moderately fun visit and Agent Red picked up a fantastic wine for a future review. After we left, my nose picked up a scent and I let Red know that I was on to something by barking loudly in the closed car. Clutching his right ear with one hand and driving with the other, Agent Red guided the car as I told him where to go. We ended up at a beautiful vineyard about 5km west of the town of Santa Rosa.
Agent Red opened the door and I bounded from the car, toward the center of the vineyard, where I acquired the object of my search. As I approached, the barking I heard confirmed my instincts – and my trusty olfactory senses; This vineyard had a Wine Dog – and I was about to make contact.
Sure enough, a yellow Lab came bounding up. After the obligatory exchange of credentials, I learned that his name was Enkidu and that he had a human that was a winemaker. After Agent Red caught up with me, Enkidu introduced us both to his Human, Phillip.
We learned that Phillip was the owner and winemaker at Enkidu Wine and that this vineyard was the Odyssey Vineyard where grapes for his Syrah are grown. I was impressed that a human would name his winery after a dog and I decided to have Agent Red procure some samples for this review.
Agent Red and Philip seemed to hit it off right away and they talked all about his wines. Enkidu showed me around the vineyard and we had a good time checking out the grapes and barking at squirrels. After a time, I got hungry and told Red it was time to go. Samples in hand, we returned to the safehouse.
Agent Red was very taken by the Odyssey Syrah and after my own detailed analysis I gave it my paw of approval. When a wine is great – and made from nature rather by recipe – I can tell with just a sniff. This wine impressed me instantly and I know that my human friends will really enjoy it – even if they can’t taste and smell all of the subtleties present!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Odyssey Vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
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Awards & Reviews:
89 Points – Robert Parker (Aug 2007) – Potentially better than the 2004 is the more elegant, delineated, dark ruby/purple-tinged 2005 Syrah Odyssey Vineyard. More smoky bacon fat scents are found in the beautiful aromatics. With medium to full body, good acidity, and fine length, this impressive 2005 should be more restrained in its youth than the 2004, and age for 10-12 years. Drink: 2007-2019
About This Wine:
With Syrah we try to maximize complexity of aroma and flavor much like the wines of Hermitage. While not common in California, we utilize 15% – 25% whole clusters, which give rise to a white pepper spice component and structure. Fermentation, undergone by native yeast, occurs after a 4-7 day cold soak. Punch downs occur twice daily until dryness. With very little extended maceration, the lot is pressed, and the free run and light press fractions go directly to French oak barrels, 30% new. After 12 – 16 months, in which the Syrah is racked and aerated three times, the wine is bottled unfiltered. Release follows four months later.
The complex nature of this wine carries on the new tradtion of Odyssey vinyard superbly. Rich, balanced and flavorful are characteristics for this unique wine. The aromas leap from the glass and offer black cherry, green olive, smoked meat, roses, orange rind, and occasionally white pepper. The flavors mirror the aromas and contribute toasted oak and nectarine. The body is rich and balanced, the finish is long. This wine continues to evolve and seems to gain complexity every month.
About The Winemaker:
Winemaker and owner, Phillip Staehle, created Enkidu not just to just make wines of distinction, but to get back to “working with my hands, to use all of my senses, and live and work according to the seasons of the year.” Phil learned his craft at Carmenet Vineyards (Chalone Wine Group) from the mid-Eighties to the mid-Nineties. The philosophies at Carmenet still resonate today and were best expressed by the late Dick Graff: “To be the best you can, to not compromise on quality; and most certainly concentrate on every detail.” As with the spirit of Enkidu, Dick’s words are a guide in our winemaking, business and life.
Our winemaking style is to create wines that are first and foremost an expression of the vineyard. We strive to extract all that we can from our fruit in order to create wines of balance, complexity and, frankly, just good flavors. To maintain in our wines all that the vineyard gives, we employ a minimalist approach that utilizes techniques that, while they may be risky, maximize the expression of the fruit. The results are carefully crafted and nurtured wines which are distinctive and expressive – the product of our striving to consistently produce the best wines possible.
Phil lives in Santa Rosa with his wife, Melissa, daughters Natasia and Gabriela, and his hairy “lab beast” named of course – Enkidu.
Production: 300 cases
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Special Designation: Odyssey Vineyard