Hughes Family Syrah Signature Reserve 2008: Mysterious bottle acquired and enjoyed...tasting notes below...
Quick Summary: This is a serious looking and serious tasting wine. It’s very dark and a bit cloudy in appearance (suspended sediment) and full bodied on the tongue with a lot of tannins and a long finish. To me it calls for a fireplace and a grilled rib-eye…and maybe a bit of a special occasion where you want to really notice your wine as part of the meal. It deserves to be noticed.
P-N-P Appearance – Really, really dark (like all good syrahs). It looks a bit cloudy when held up to the light. There seems to be a healthy supply of sediment suspended in this wine…and swirling it actually causes small pieces to stick to the sides of the glass and I can see it pooling at the bottom. This bottle arrived to me 5 days ago, so it might have settled out if I had let it cellar some. The sediment did not distract me one little bit while enjoying it…so no complaints here.
P-N-P Aroma - Black and red berry jam….maybe a little bit of leather on the back
Me: Might need the venturi and the decanter this evening. Seems tight and not the fruit jam delivery I was expecting. Body is very heavy….matches the opaque chewy appearance. Betting the acidity is high. Lots of tannins and a long finish. As for the taste…I’m a bit at a loss. Something in the herbaceous side of the wheel seems the best match…maybe a bit of black olive or cut grass.
SO: Chocolate on the front. Astringent in the middle and almost bitter on the back
Through the venturi and swirled heavily for several moments
Me: Better. This wine has a lot of potential but is hard to get to know. Still heavy bodied and acidic, but smoother after the aeriation. I am still struggling with flavor description…maybe some dried fruit and fresh herbs.
SO: Fruit aromas is less. The taste is better “blended” after the venturi. Before I got a disjointed beginning, middle, and end, now all the pieces are in harmony.
With cheese plate
Me: It bullied the lighter cheeses on the plate (namely a brie & the beehive cheese from a previous woot – side note, that beehive cheese is awesome!!). It even bullied the bread soaked in oil& balsamic vinegar, imo. However, with the strong bleu cheese it was wonderful.
SO: I like it with the cheese better than without. I really like it with the bleu. I like it better venturied than not. [Then a few minutes later…] I like this wine.
With Various Foods
Day 1 Dinner (Smoked Chicken, Roasted Potatoes, Snow Peas) – This was more of an exercise in what not to pair with this wine. The food and wine did not do each other any favors, and much like the lighter cheese the wine overwhelmed the smoked chicken and potatoes. It did especially poorly with anything sweet. So, I experimented with a bite of chicken in BBQ sauce and then a sip of the wine, and they really fought each other. However, unrelated to the food, the wine itself became more enjoyable as it continued to open up, but it really overwhelmed the food.
Dark Chocolate – I tried this pairing as well, and much like the BBQ sauce experience…it did not go especially well. Any sweetness next to this wine causes the wine to seem especially bitter and takes it in the wrong direction.
Day 2 Dinner (Meatloaf) – First of all, the wine continues to open up with age, and by day two it was really a show piece. The beef was much closer to what this wine needs. I still think it needs something a little stronger and grilled, but the fat in the beef was a very good pairing with it.
Final Thoughts – I do not think anybody would use this wine for a daily sipper or carelessly pull it from the rack. It needs to be thoughtfully paired and probably decanted a healthy amount. I think it has a lot of potential to be a real jewel, however. I am also very curious about its aging prospects. I am still a novice at being able to identify wines that will age well, but my gut says this is probably one I would like to meet 5-10 years from now. As I write up these notes, I do not know the price of this wine, but am very curious. I certainly feel like I got treated to a special bottle of wine.
Having seen the price I am pleasantly surprised. If the Zin is as good as the Syrah, this is a real treat.