Sunday, May 8, 2011

Double the Disappointment

It's Hockey Night in Vancouver and the town is all a-twitter with the possibility that the Canucks can put away the Nashville Predators for good. Being a Saturday night, there's a good chance that the biggest street celebration since the Olympics could well carry on into the early hours of the morning. In fact, the ever-more-famous "Green Men," have even co-opted Carrie Underwood to sport a Canucks jersey to the game even though her husband, Mike Fisher, plays for the other guys.

Given the auspicious occasion, the evening's Sandhill contribution to the series and to The List is actually a double play - but I'm going to one of the winery's most regularly acclaimed varietals - Syrah. Here's hoping that two closely related Sandhill wines can bring out the best of our team's twins - Daniel and Henrick.

797. 2005 Sandhill Syrah (VQA Okanagan Valley)

798. 2005 Sandhill Small Lots Syrah (VQA Okanagan Valley)

This is the first time that I've opened a regular label Sandhill wine and tried it side by side with a Small Lots bottle from the same vintage. The $15 difference in price ($20 vs $35) is sufficient enough that I'd like to see if we can identify that much of a difference in the glass.

The Small Lots Program has produced a couple of vintages already but this is the first Syrah to be released under the regular Sandhill label. As with all of Howard Soon's wines, both Syrah's are single vineyard wines but, while the regular label grapes are grown on the Sandhill Estate vineyard, fruit for the Small Lots wine is grown not far down Black Sage Road on the Phantom Creek vineyard. Wine Access Magazine recently named Phantom Creek as one of the "Top 10 Single Vineyards Around the World." As acclaimed as that vineyard might be, Richard Cleave, the owner and grower of Phantom Creek, supervises both his own vineyard and the Sandhill Estate vineyard. So, the grapes from both vineyards have a similar pedigree.

All things being equal, I would have expected the Small Lots Syrah to outshine the Sandhill, but I actually preferred the standard label. It may have come down to storage of the bottles though. For me, there was a distinct note on the Small Lots - both on the nose and palate - that hinted at cork taint. Boo is normally the one with the more attuned sense of smell and he didn't notice it. Indeed, the wine wasn't fully corked and we finished off the bottle in due course, but I definitely don't think it was meant to be there. On the other hand, the Sandhill was big and full of fruit.

Accordingly, I think I'd have to give the "win" to the regular label Syrah. Whether that qualifies as an upset or not, I don't rightly know. But I was a bit disappointed with the Small Lots.

As I was with the game. Bringing out the "twinned" wines wasn't enough to propel our boys to a win. The hockey twins have yet to find a way to inflict some real damage on the Predators - and, whether the Nashville players are underdogs or not, with a 4-3 win, the Predators put a hold on any VanCity street celebrations for at least awhile longer.

It'll be back to Nashville for a sixth game. Guess I'll need to pick out another Sandhill wine for that game. I suppose there are worse things in life.

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