Private Tasting: Syrah/Shiraz Showdown in Hawaii



By Kori ~ April 6th, 2009.

2006 Stephenson Cellars Patina Vineyard Syrah, 2005 Massena Epsilon ShirazOn our recent trip to Hawaii, we decided to give ourselves a reprieve from eating out and paying restaurant wine prices every night by taking some wines from home and cooking a few meals in the condo where we were staying. So we grabbed a couple pairs of sacked-up wines from our private tasting lineup and stuffed them in our suitcases. Fortunately, the bottles made the journey intact. The best of the tastings turned out to be this Syrah/Shiraz showdown. Both wines were very good and paired well with our beef fajita dinner, but we all preferred the 2006 Stephenson Cellars Patina Vineyard Syrah from Washington State over the 2005 Massena Epsilon Shiraz from Australia. For a more complete description of how we set up these private tastings, please refer to How We Taste.

Dave Stephenson of Stephenson Cellars is a very talented winemaker. We continue to enjoy his wines. This was the first time that we had tasted his Patina Vineyard Syrah which is offered as a Paul Gregutt Selection through McCarthy & Schiering Wine Merchants in Seattle. Paul Gregutt is one of the foremost authorities on Washington wines. He is the Wine Adviser for The Seattle Times, writes for Wine Enthusiast, and authored Washington Wines & Wineries: The Essential Guide. Through this program with McCarthy & Schiering, Gregutt is showcasing one-of-a-kind offerings to highlight some of the best wines Washington State has to offer that would otherwise only be available to the winery’s mailing list or through their tasting room. Only 48 cases of the 2006 Stephenson Cellars Patina Vineyard Syrah were produced.

Massena is a partnership between Dan Standish, who began his career making wine at Torbreck, and Jaysen Collins from Turkey Flat. They have been producing wines under the Massena label in the Barossa Valley of Australia since the 2000 vintage.

2006 Stephenson Cellars Patina Vineyard Syrah (Walla Walla Valley, Washington): Deep, dense, dark purple. Nose is a bit tight at first. Aromas of black fruits and sawdust. Black pepper, black plum, and coffee come through on the palate. Medium tannins. Smooth and well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: McCarthy & Schiering (Seattle), $30

2005 Massena Epsilon Shiraz (Barossa Valley, Australia): Deep, dense, dark purple. Very aromatic with aromas of black licorice and blackberry cobbler. Jammy with flavors of thick black fruits and black pepper. Seems a bit overripe. Medium finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Wine.com (California), $25


Filed under: American Wine, Australian Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25

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