I know, I know, I keep saying I like Rune. But I really do. A lot. I’ve reviewed a couple of his wines before, and recorded a couple of podcasts… and here’s yet another review.
And it’s high time I review what is, I think, my favorite of all of James Callahan’s wines, hands down: the 2013 Wild Syrah. It was a big favorite of the Judges, too, at the 2015 Arizona Republic wine competition. (Which of course also means that a review of the Classic Syrah is coming up too, when I can get around to it… I really don’t sit around drinking wine all day, despite I know that’s what it seems like 😉 )
The Wine: The Wild Syrah is a Côte-Rôtie style co-ferment. The grapes for this blend are coming from Pillsbury Vineyard, down on the Willcox Bench. It is a blend of two native yeast co-ferments. The blend is 96% Syrah, 2% Viognier, and 2% Malvasia Bianca. Fermented in Macro Bins, the wines were punched down twice daily, and left on the skins for two weeks. The wines were pressed to barrels, settled overnight, and then racked to separate barrels. They aged sur lie for 16 months in neutral and two year old French oak, and were bottled without fining or filtration.
The Nose: The nose of this wine is dark, brooding, and intense, with opening notes of black cherry, black pepper, latakia, rosemary, mint, and rich monsoon petrichor. It’s… the nose of this wine right off the bat is kind of like eating a rich cherry pie while smoking a latakia-heavy pipe blend just before a July monsoon thunderstorm hits your porch overlooking your herb garden. As the wine opens, notes of allspice, and vanilla, lavender, and cedar also emerge from the glass.
The Palate: Deep purple fruits such as blackberry, boysenberry, and plum intermingle with repeating latakia pipe tobacco, sage, and cedar notes. There is a slight sour earthy note that plays with the fruit as a counterpoint. The wine has a solid acidity to it, and a great load of tannins. The finish is long, filled with sour blackberry, coffee, black pepper, allspice, and smoky latakia, lasting for 1 minute and 54 seconds.
Pairing: I paired this wine with an excursion to the Mogollon Rim looking for fossil shark teeth in the Naco Formation (the bones of another ancient Arizona sea) with a paleontologist friend of mine… but if you want to pair this with food, aim for wild game such as elk or venison. For a vegetarian/vegan pairing, continue the wild metaphor with a sauteed medley of wild-harvested mushrooms—but only if you know what you’re doing. Otherwise, get them from the store.
Impression: This and the One Stone from Saeculum Cellars (incidentally, another Côte-Rôtie style wine) are probably my favorite Syrahs from Arizona. Callahan well deserved the awards he got for this wine, I think.
The Wild Syrah is… like many other syrahs in Arizona, a curvy pin-up model, but this time she’s covered in woad painted in bright blue spirals, participates in the SCA, knows ten ways to kill you, is an expert with a rapier, and brews her own mead on weekends. But she’s really quite nice once you get to know her and will knit you warm things for the winter once she gets to know you.