For the first time we have a co-winner of our Icon Wine of the Year award; two excellent Syrahs with a similar story:
Both Syrah hail from estate wineries best known for producing big, bold, Bordeaux-styled, iconic red blends (Painted Rock's Red Icon and Black Hills' Nota Bene) yet, over the past few years, it is the house Syrah that I have found made a more lasting impression and are wines I would most often recommend, not as a consolation to the sold-out blends, but as a signature of quality for the winery and as an example of the heights this peppery, Rhone Valley grape can achieve in BC.
Syrah is handled with care in the vineyard, by both wineries, where the quality of the future wine is determined. Syrah needs constant care in the vineyard as it can grow wildly if left to its own devices and can get hit hard by BC's harshest winters.
Talking to vineyard staff about growing Syrah in BC is like discussing the ailment history of a self-diagnosing hypochondriac: you'll get a laundry list of complaints about keeping the vines healthy - even in good-weather years. Mention a particularly cold season to a vineyard manager, like the frost-heavy 2008 winter, and from the horror stories you'll hear, you'll be amazed that the vines survive at all.
Red Icon and Nota Bene have earned the hype these wines receive, but there is more to their producers than these well-promoted, 'flagship' wines, and it's their Syrah you will secretly crave and collect.
Black Hills Estate Winery 2015 Syrah - 92+pts
Fantastical concentration in this Black Sage Bench sourced Syrah with deep, black cherry and sensual, floral aromas on the generous nose and oak-kissed layers of black cherry, mint, pepper, tobacco and blood orange flavours on the smoky, fine tannin palate. Simply gorgeous.
Painted Rock Estate Winery 2015 Syrah - 92-93pts
This youthful Syrah displays ripe cherry and plum fruit with integrated white pepper, pepperoni and floral aromas followed on the dry, grippy-tannin palate with similar flavours and added layers of blood orange, mint and vanilla.
- 2016 - Cassini Cellars 2013 The Aristocrat
- 2015 - Le Vieux Pin 2012 Équinoxe Syrah
- 2014 - Painted Rock 2012 Red Icon
- 2013 - Stag's Hollow Winery 2010 Cachet No. 03
- 2012 - Painted Rock Estate Winery 2011 Chardonnay
- 2011 - Fairview Cellars 2009 The Wrath
- 2010 - Stratus Vineyards 2007 Red
- 2009 - Blackwood Lane Winery 2006 Alliance