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Atwood vertical tasting at The Wine Company

Atwood 2007 Syrah. Photo by Crispin Courtenay

Tonight I had the pleasure of doing a vertical tasting of Atwood Estate Vineyard Syrah from 2003 – 2007 vintage at the Wine company in Temecula.

As per Taste of Temecula style I arrived fashionably late to a packed room, luckily I managed to score a seat, which is a good thing as it’s hard to take notes, work a camera and do a serious tasting all at the same time.

A note on the camera, I grabbed the wrong one running out the door, it’s a superior model, but shoots differently…let’s just say there will not be many photos for this article. That’s ok though, we are here for the wine.

2009 Rose was served to break the ice and give everyone a hint of things to come. It was a Syrah rose. Very dark for a rose, some floral aromas, muted cherry. A little frizzante on the tongue, but no visible bubbles, which was quite refreshing. A little residual sugar, sweet notes on the finish. ($19.50)

It got the conversation a-rolling which was great…until we were told to be quiet so we could here Dan Atwood describe his wines.

Dan started by introducing this wine by saying: “some of you have been very kind and even said that you liked this wine.” I was a little apprehensive, as when a winery owner is self depreciating about his wine, well it’s never happened before, winery owners typically have huge egos and their fields only turn out ambrosia that is fit for the Gods. It was a breath of fresh air to have Dan Atwood be so candid.

Here is the underlying reason why, the vines were only three years old at the time of the first harvest, there was a lot of green present on these immature vines. Sometimes you can get away with picking on the third year and sometimes not. At any rate, it was a good benchmark to see where Atwood Wines began.

2003 Syrah right off the nose you are picking up some astringency, deep red stone fruit, and faint mint. Taste was astringent, tart and green. Finish was long, too long. This wine was not recommended by Dan Atwood, in fact he offered a free bottle to anyone that wanted it. (sold out)

Before our glasses were even filled a few people had knocked back their 2004. Dan came by and asked everyone if they got some 2004 Syrah, one table nodded but had empty glasses. Dan remarked, “holly cow, where did it go?”

2004 Syrah there was an aroma present in the nose that no one could identify, it was reminiscent of cardboard and coffee, but not quite. Not unpleasant or by no means a fault, just a curiosity that no one was able to pick out. Sensual berry with much larger alcohol presence. Sharp hit on the tongue with some spicy notes. Pick up age, a little pale and mellow. Very long finish, very smooth on the back of the palate. As this wine sat for about fifteen minutes it started to lose some of it’s charm due to the oxygen contact. This wine has reached it’s peak and should be drunk now.

Another Atwood quote: “What it is is what it is, it’s not going to change anymore”.

The next wine we were forewarned by Dan Atwood: “Hold on to your socks and it’s (the 2005 Syrah) going to make them go up and down by themselves.”

2005 Syrah bouquet was much more subtle than the 2004, but still present. Big fruit nose, hint of smokiness. Juicy in the mouth, fine tannins, mellow in the glass. Shorter finish. Edwin Mahieu, Taste of Temecula writer and wine instructor at The Wine Company, described this wine as a Napa-style Syrah, and I would have to agree. Much more fruit forward than the 2004, which he described as more of an Old World style. ($24.99)

The 2006 Syrah is the most controversial Atwood yet, love it or hate it”, said Dan Atwood.

2006 Syrah typical California Syrah nose, a little pepper, chalk (what that is doing there I cannot answer, but there none the less), pepper. Delicate fruit on the nose. Bit of a ride in the mouth with butter, pepper and a caramel hit. Not a lot of fruit like the 2005 and lower apparent alcohol. Long butter and caramel aftertaste. Medium finish and very easy drinking. ($24.99)

Last up was the 2007 Syrah and the last Atwood quote of the evening “It has potential, and might work itself into something.

2007 Syrah very mellow in the glass. The first of the Atwoods with a California typicity, dark cherry, wet straw, alfalfa, tobacco, hint of pepper. The vines are starting to come into full maturity on this vintage and it presents with a very complex aroma and taste which was great fun to try to decipher. Smooth and refreshing in the mouth. Fine cigar on the finish, very easy tannins and a highly refreshing, clean finish. ($24.99)

The wines are available for sale at The Wine Company on Overland Drive in Temecula, The Collective in Old Town and online from Atwood Estate Vineyard.

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