Two very interesting wines with an early dinner tonight - a 2003 Columbia Crest Reserve Syrah and a 2000 E. Guigal Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde.
The Columbia Crest, from Washington's Columbia Valley was restrained, but with some nice fruit up front, primarily dark, sweet cherries. It was of a medium weight and offered promise of matching well with a spice rubbed tri-tip roast from the grill. It was not a big, "fruit-bomb" type wine, and seemed a little more slanted toward an old world syrah as opposed to a new world version. Nice and full in the middle with a relatively long finish ending with just the right amount of tannins and acid to make you ready for the next sip. It also paired well with the appetizer, monastici (thinly sliced eye of round layered with provolone cheese, rolled into a cylinder and quickly grilled just until the cheese melted). The wine was decanted for an hour.
It did go well with the tri-tip, but like a young upstart it was quickly put in its place by the Cote Rotie. The nose here was some fruit, but mostly good clean dirt - perhaps a barnyard that had yet to see its first resident animal. It too was decanted for one hour. One could get a little oak in the nose and just a hint that the fruit might be there. All this carried through on the initial taste, but the fruit suddenly appeared in the middle and most of it was a more tart cherry with some dark fruits underneath. The acid kicked in at the end and the finish was long and just wonderful. Throughout the course of the evening this wine just continued to open up and at about two hours the fruit came more forward. It also paired well with the oven roasted potatoes that were sprinkled with black truffle salt for the last few minutes of roasting. The house smelled like heaven. Earthy tasting potatoes with a very appealing earthy Cote Rotie was a wonderful treat for a cold, drizzly day.
We shifted back to the Columbia Crest and were amazed. It now tasted like a new world fruit bomb wine. It seemed to be all fruit and tasted exceptionally sweet compared to the Cote Rotie. It was still a very good wine, but it tasted plain and simple next to the other one. The things that made it appealing were still there but they seemed so simple compared to what was in the other wine.
The only dessert was a square of 60% cacao dark chocolate, and the fruity Columbia Crest was the hands down winner here. The Cote Rotie and chocolate were not well matched, but the fruit in the Columbia Crest was delicious with the chocolate.
I would certainly drink either wine again, but the next time the Columbia Crest will stand on its own and will be much more appreciated. There is one more bottle of each in the cellar.
The Columbia Crest will probably not last much past this autumn, but there will be a year or two hold on the Guigal. There is a glass of each remaining for tomorrow night.