Bonny Doon Vineyard
Syrah "Le Pousseur"

I've had two wines recently that shook me up, then haunted me after. The first was a biodynamic Saumur Champigny from Thierry Germain, of Domaine des Roches Neuves. I have no notes on this wine, and in fact can't even recall where we bought it. But I can't get its subtleties, its complexity, out of my head. I have been looking for it for weeks. I need to experience it again.

The other was this Syrah, "Le Pousseur" from Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon. This wine, too, has some kind of magic, some power to enchant, to seduce. We decanted it as the winemaker suggests, giving it air and the opportunity to evolve over the course of the evening.

The color is deep violet, nearly opaque. In the glass it smells like a wild animal, gamy and alive, offering earthy dark fruits plus menthol and violets. On the palate it's richly striated, with velvety black fruits, cherry, earth, and a sweet, bright spiciness. Its minerality makes it shimmer as if it were shot through with metal veins.

We alternated sips letting thin shavings of aged Pecorino melt on our tongues, the gaminess of the cheese a perfect partner to the wine's urgent, animal liveliness. The wine slips away slowly, offering a long, sensual finish.

This is a wine that's not easily deciphered; it has to be tasted with all one's senses, and tasted again. Vivid and mercurial, and not soon forgotten. At least I know where to get more.




Price: $20
Drinks like: $30
Bang for the buck: 150%

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  • Meg,
    In a world of verbose and banal tasting notes, you write about wine beautifully. I must ask, given the nature of recent discussions on Alice Feiring’s blog and others: Do you associate the animal and game flavors to the grape or to some small levels of brett? I, for one, prefer my Cote-Rotie’s to combine olive tapenade with Secretariat. I think some amount of that is inherent in Syrah’s genetic makeup. But certainly many others argue it’s only ever brett. Thoughts?
    Again, wonderful. Cheers.

  • Evan,
    Thanks so much for your kind compliments and high praise. It’s deeply welcomed, especially from one as experienced as you.
    Your question about brett is well posed. In the case of this particular wine, I never thought “brett.” It is true that lot of Syrah—and Côte Rotie in particular—presents with a kind of animal quality, but in the case of this wine it seems more about the wine’s muscularity and pulsing aliveness than about poor winery hygiene. When I hear brett I think barnyard, which ultimately is about refuse and decay, whereas what I get here is an earthy sensuality, almost fertility; it smells like reproduction, not degeneration.
    Maybe it is brett, to some degree; I don’t know. But if it is, then I’m one of those lucky few who finds this enormously pleasant and attractive, magical and magnetic.
    Thanks again for your kind comment, and Cheers back to you.

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