PICK of the RACK: Cochon Wines | Syrah | Phoenix Ranch | Napa Valley | California | 2010 | $30 | 91 pts

Cochon 2Aromas: boysenberry & black cherry; cured tobacco; smoke; hint of lime zest
Character: dry; full-bodied; savory & layered; fruit-earth-and spice balance; moderate tannins; zesty acidity; moderate oak
Flavors: blackberry & black cherry; Nicoise olive; clove; black pepper; iron; touches of bitters and lime zest
Food Pairing: sharp cheeses; assorted charcuterie; tomato-based pasta dishes; roasted meats; balsamic vinegar preparations

“Cochon” is the French word for pig — or hog.  Cochon Wines owners Adam Webb and Mike Kuenz, of Odisea Wine Company, named their enterprise after the 300-liter French oak barrels in which their wines are aged — barrels called “hogsheads.”  Adam and Mike source fruit for their wines from growers in Napa Valley and neighboring winegrowing regions, and the Syrah that went into this wine came from Phoenix Ranch, a biodynamically farmed vineyard located just south of the Stags Leap District.  The result is a deeply flavorful and layered Syrah, with aromas of boysenberry, black cherry, cured tobacco, and a wisp of smoke, followed by flavors of blackberry, black cherry, Nicoise olive, clove, cracked black pepper, and iron, with splashes of aromatic bitters on the lingering finish.  Hints of lime zest appear on both the nose and the palate, joining with zesty acidity to keep this savory red vibrant on the palate.  The wine was co-fermented with 5% Viognier and aged for 24 months in hogsheads before being bottled unfiltered.  This Syrah is at once meaty and racy, and will serve with considerable versatility at the dinner table.  Pair it with aged sharp cheeses, assorted charcuterie, tomato-based pasta dishes, roasted meats, and balsamic vinegar-based preparations.

Availability:  Cochon Wines produced only 166 cases of their 2010 Phoenix Ranch Syrah, and distribution is very limited.  It is available directly from the winery, however, so visit them virtually at www.cochonwines.com for more information.  We found the wine at Bell Wine & Spirits in downtown Washington, D.C.  Visit Bell virtually at www.bellwineshop.com, or if you live in the D.C. area pay them a personal visit at 1821 M Street, N.W., 20036.

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