More Wine from Wente: Syrah

wenteThese guys just keep on making great stuff…

They’re the guys at Wente Vineyards, and in my last post I introduced readers to this heritage winery in California’s Livermore Valley. Five generations of the family have made wine in this appellation east of San Francisco Bay, and the three I’ve tried were pretty impressive.

Of course, they’ve got a great micro-climate to work with. Because their valley runs west to east from San Francisco Bay, it sucks in the morning fog that rolls through the Golden Gate Gap. But it settles on the valley floor, allowing more sunlight and warmth on the slopes above the valley. That’s where the warm-climate red grapes are grown, including the Syrah used for the Wente Shorthorn Syrah 2008.syrah

There’s a good story here, too — back in 1918, the second generation of Wente’s began raising Shorthorn cattle on the slopes and ridge lands bordering the Livermore Valley. Good thing, too, because when the Depression and Prohibition destroyed most of the California wine industry, Wente Vineyards was able to survive. Their Syrah grapes are now grown on those same slopes and canyons, so its name is a tribute to their history of winemaking and cattle ranching.

And the wine’s good, too! The nose intrigued me with dark berries, mocha and smoke. The fruit on the palate made me think black cherries and tart cranberries, with a hint of the gaminess and spice I expect from Syrah. There’s a lot of body for the money, with a smooth mouthfeel and soft tannins on the finish.

All in all, this is great value for the money, and a fun glass of wine to pair with lots of foods. We drank it with balsamic-marinated chicken, and loved every sip and bite.

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