What We Say 2004 Estate Syrah
Superior Wine Alert
We always feature great wines, but today’s wine is a very special Syrah – from a region not particualrly known for producing great Syrah
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Guest Reviewer Alert
Today we welcome guest reviewer, Kerry Winslow of GrapeLive.com. As a thank you, we bestow upon him the title of honorary Wine Spy and give him the spy name, Agent Noir.
Mission Codename: Carmel Valley VS. Napa Valley
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red to infiltrate an ultra-exclusive private blind-tasting, retrieve the winning wine
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Parsonage Village Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2004 Syrah
Winemaker: Bill Parsons
Backgrounder: When The Wine Spies got word of a very exclusive blind Syrah tasting – organized by Sonoma County Billionaire [CENSORED] – we sent Agent Red undercover, to witness. After the tasting, Agent Red makes contact with the winner, and secures a quantity of the wine for our well-deserving Operatives. Read Red’s Tasting Notes and Mission Report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – A beautiful and darkly concentrated burgundy-purple color with a deep heart of garnet. The wine maintains deep color right out to the edges, and has wide-spaced legs that take a long time to emerge, and then creep slowly down the glass
Smell – Dark and lush with deep aromatic fruit and a great earthiness. This wine drives big blackberry, sweet cherry and blueberry with smoky black plum, mild truffle, smoke, oak and soft cedar
Feel – Cool, soft and light at first, fast across the top of the tongue and then quickly mouth-coating, smooth and with medium tannins
Taste – Big jammy layers of delicious fruit of blackberry, sweet cherry and blueberry with sweetwood, cigar box, earth, mildest herbs and soft black pepper
Finish – Dry and slightly talc-y, with bright and ripe fruit flavors that are followed by more earthen qualities and soft vanilla oak – as the wines flavors and feel taper slowly
Conclusion – This is really a superb wine. Despite a caution from the winemaker, Bill Parsons, that the wine could have some hard edges, we Wine Spies all love the wine. With great aromas and flavors, plus a really wonderful mouthfeel, this wine is a beautifully balanced and deeply lush wine. Fun to drink and ready to drink now, this wine will likely cellar beautifully for several more years. Personally, I don’t think thjat my personal supply will last that long!
Agent Noir – Guest Reviewer – Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark and thick looking with a purple and garnet color
Smell – Violets, coffee bean and ripe red fruits flow on the nose
Feel – This Syrah has rich texture and big intensity on the palate
Taste – Lush black fruits, cassis, cherry liqueur, plum and hints of blueberry compote
Finish – The finish is long and ripe, with smooth tannins, creamy fruit and pretty vanilla from the French barrels
Conclusion – This is a stunner, a wine of depth and quality with complex flavors and super balance. Look for this Syrah to age well and continue to delevop over the next few years
The following blind tasting really took place. Whether or not Agent Red was there, is still a matter of some debate. The names of the billionaire and the other winemakers have been redacted from this report.
It was a quiet night and I was enjoying some downtime by re-reading yet another John le Carré novel when I got the call:
“Agent Red, priority dispatch Alpha 1, Tango Omega 7. Transmitting the coordinates and legend to your handheld now. Confirm.”
Fishing my spyphone from my pocket I watched the screed as the progress bar filled – and then displayed a map and my mission.
“Confirmation code Syrah-Delta-Two.”
A blind tasting, and I was going in – undercover. Tonight!
Wasting no time, I hopped into my cover car, a green 1973 VW Beetle. With the road visible beneath the rusted floor of the car I though – and not for the first time – of the Flintstones.
I made it the the service entrance of what looked like a palace. The home belonged to [CENSORED], a pharmeceutical billionaire from China. My mission brief told me that he had dabbled in the wine business, and liked to surround himself with people in the trade – particularly winemakers.
The security office at the gate look scornfully at my smoking Bug, checked my ID and told me to check in with the head of house at the end of the driveway. “Ya can’t miss her,” he said. “A pile of red curls on her head.” For a moment he had a baleful look on his face, but then scowled at me again and waved me through.
I made my way from the parking lot to the entrance to the bustling kitchen. I found the head of house. Rather, she found me. “I’m HOH,” she said. “Here, put this uniform on and get back right away. They’re starting early!”
I returned from putting on the uniform and she handed me a tray of crackers and fancy cheeses. Following her pointing finger, I made my way out into the house.
The place was gorgeous! I was in awe.
“You need a hand with that?”
Snapping out of it, I looked up.. and up some more.. and saw a smiling, pleasant-faced man looking at me with his hands out.
I politely refused and walked to the table where I set the tray down among other foods. The man walked up and leanded in toward me. “You look about as comfortable here as I feel, son.”
I smiled politely and asked, “Are you in the wine business?”
“I am. I grow grapes and make wine. Some damn good ones, actually. You drink wine?”
“Not really,” I lied. “Excuse me, I need to get back to the kitchen.”
HOH handed me a tray of appeared to be six paper-wrapped wine bottles. “Take these out and set them, at least two feet apart, on the bar. Then, go behind the bar and place six wine glasses in front of each bottle. Without letting the wine labels show, pour an equal measure into each glass. Then, stay behind the bar and be ready to assist the gentlemen further. Got all that?”
I nodded and went out to prepare.
Once set up, HOH invited six men in from another room. Leading the pack with the host, Mr. [CENSORED]. I recognized a few as prominant Napa Valley winemakers. I assumed that the other were winemakers as well. Among them was the tall, smiling gent from earlier.
Once all of the men had tasted the wines and the scores were tallied, the host pointed to a bottle and instructed me to remove all other bottles. Then he spoke: “Gentlemen, I thank you again for being my guest tonight. Some of you are friends, others are professional rivals. I offer special thanks to Bill Parsons or Parsonage Village Vineyards for making the drive up here from Carmel Village to the south.”
With the mention of Mr. Parsons name, or was it Carmel Valley, some of the men visibly squirmed.
The host spoke again: “As you can see, our final decision is clear. By unanimous vote, the wine befor you is our winner tonight.”
He approached the bottle – and paused for dramatic effect, before lifting the bottle from the bag. Since I was behind the bar, I could not see the label on the bottle. Looking at the faces of the men, I saw something far more intriguing! A look of utter shock and disbelief befell their faces. One of the men actually dropped his glass, which shattered as it hit the terracotta floor. The men all looked aroud at each other. All but one of them, whose spreading smile revealed the winner to me.
Eventually, the host spoke. “Number one. You are the number one.” He repeated this several times. Bill Parsons stood there. The other men retired to nearby couches, but started grumbling among themselves while casting if looks could kill glances at Bill.
“Number one. You are the number one,” the host kept repeating quietly while staring at Bills bottle of Syrah.
I motioned for Bill to follow me out of the room. As we left for the kitchen we could hear the host repeating the same phrase over and over.
“Bill, listen,” I said. “Congratulations. I’m Agent Red, Wine Spy. Come with me and I’ll get you to your car. It’s obvious that your wine has stunned these poor guys. You won, that’s what matters.”
We left through the service entrance and Bill crammed his large fram into my car. I explained my mission and my desire to secure some of his winning wines for our Operatives. Grateful for the getaway from the akwardness that followed the tasting, he agreed. I dropped him at his car and left him with my calling card.
The next day, Bill allocated a cache of his wine to us. Today, you have a chance to try Bill’s delicious masterpiece.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Parsonage Village Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Parsonage Village Vineyard
Awards & Accolades:
About This Wine:
This wine is a star in the making and has free flowing flavors of boysenberry, red cherry, plum and a blast of blueberry along with a bright pepper note and a touch of vanilla. This Syrah comes from the lower block and has an Aussie flair to it and jammy fruit that leaves a lingering and lovely hint of sweetness.
About The Winery:
Bill and Mary Ellen Parsons fell in love with serious wines during the 1990s when they became partners in a Northern California vineyard. With a few viticultural and oenology classes at UC Davis under his belt, Bill established Parsonage Village Vineyard in 1998 with the goal of growing a small quantity of the finest quality grapes to produce powerful wines of intense flavor.
The Parsons selected a nine-acre parcel of land just past the Carmel Valley Village for the vineyard. The small size was intentional to allow for attention to each vine. The entire Parsons family participates in the operation of the vineyard and winery ensuring consistency and a high standard of care.
At Parsonage, the focus is on quality over quantity; the vineyard is managed to yield only two and a half to three tons per acre. At full production, the winery will generate 1,200 to 1,400 cases per year.
In the Fall of 2000, the first small crop was harvested. This vintage, consisting of 200 cases of a Syrah and a Cabernet Sauvignon, sold out in 4 months.
The 2001 through 2007 harvests each netted an average of 15 to 21 tons of exquisitely ripe fruit. The 2005 harvest was the largest at 25 tons and 2007 the smallest at only 8 tons. These harvests are a volume sufficient to produce some 950 to 1,200 cases of estate wines. All vintages, 2001 to 2005, share a common denominator of elegance, complexity and balance derived from the unique terroir of the Parsonage hillside vineyard. The trend from 2001 to 2007 has been toward a more powerful structural base and a broader and deeper level of nuance and complexity.
About The Vineyard:
Parsonage Village Vineyard sits on a seven-acre parcel planted on a south-facing hillside bench 500 feet above the Carmel River and just past the Carmel Valley Village. The mesoclimate is perfect for red grapes and the vineyard is planted with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and small amounts of Malbec and Petite Verdot.
Our location in Carmel Valley provides world class climatological conditions. The south facing slope acts as a natural heat sink providing moderate heat for an extended growing season and perfect ripening. Twelve miles from the Pacific Ocean, the location is ideal for late afternoon cooling which also lengthens the ripening process. The soil is a silt-clay-loam with a generous amount of Carmel Stone (chalky, limestone) that provides an additional level of complexity and intensity to the fruit.
The seven-acre vineyard is laid out on a North/South axis. Rather than terrace the steep (25%) slope, the vines ascend the slope terminating in a nearly all chalky, limestone, (Carmelstone) soil. Vines are spaced out at six feet with eight-foot row spacing.
The focus at Parsonage Village Vineyard is not on high yields, but the health and maintenance of every vine. The vineyard is harvested as each section is ready, ensuring powerful flavors from perfectly ripe fruit. Only Parsonage grapes are used to make Parsonage wines to allow for complete control of every aspect of the winemaking process, ensuring consistent quality.