Havens is famous for their Merlot, which was my introduction to their wine. When I came across their Syrah the other day, I decided to give it a try. This syrah, like the Merlot I first drank has a subdued and earthy complexity, which is due, I think, partially to the Carneros fruit that winemaker Michael Havens selects for his wines, but also I am beginning to suspect, to his vision for his wines. I look forward to trying the 2001 vintages of both his Merlot and this Syrah, as I suspect they will reflect the superiority of that harvest -- while competently made and pleasurable, this Syrah, like the 2000 Merlot are not quite as stellar as they could be. However, Havens' commitment to pricing their wines reasonably means that I can easily recommend their wines, including this one, as very good values for the money.
Blood red in the glass (lighter than many California Syrahs) the wine opens with aromas of black licorice, french roast coffee, prunes and a slight hint of chocolate. When the wine first enters the mouth it delivers a burst of spiciness and acitdity up front, causing a surprising tingling on the toungue. This is followed by subdued and dark flavors of plum and black cherry with big tannins in the first pour, mellowing over an hour that it was open. For some this wine will be a refreshing change from the California fruit-bombs that mark much of the Syrah production these days. The wine tastes more European in style, and will probably age well, as it has a lot of oak on it (frankly, more than I think it needs).
I like to drink Syrah with game of all sorts, from rabbit to venison. But really, who wouldn't want to drink this wine with a whole roasted leg of wild boar?
Overall score: 7.5/8
How much?: $18 retail.
This wine is available for sale through various internet retailers. Check Wine Searcher for one in your area.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
The Changing Love of Pinot Noir? Vinography Images: Patchwork California Wine Country Macabre The Latitudes and Longitudes of Pinot Noir Vinography Unboxed: Week of March 15th, 2015 Vinography Images: The Rockpile Do You Need to Worry About Arsenic in Your Wine? At What Price, To Kalon? Rhone Rangers Tasting: March 28, Richmond, CA Vinography Images: Happy Tree
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune