P I A
hard to resist.
There’s enough allegory here to satisfy even the most hyperbolic writer. But lest I cast myself adrift in the gobs, dear reader, I shall promise not to exploit the obvious today.
I won’t mention the lure and allure of the Homeric Sirens and how that could be metaphorically alluding to the fabled charms of the grape we call Pinot Noir.
And I’ll not talk about the symbolic island on the label, surrounded by a Grecographic ocean.
Further, I shall avoid the temptation to discuss our Odyssean quest to find the elusive Perfect Pinot.
just tell you a little about Laura.
With more time in the industry than I
could tell you and still remain discreet, Laura
Bishop Wangoe (right) traveled to New Zealand in 1999 to consult
some local vintners interested in penetrating the US market.
The rest is herstory.
As many of us have, Laura became
smitten with Pinot Noir, and found a variety of producers on both islands of
the nation experimenting and succeeding with this finicky grape. After careful
research (uh,...tasting, I suppose) she selected three sites, each of which
expresses this delightful grape in a distinctive fashion. Each wine is
cultivated, vinted and bottled by the grower. These are hand crafted wines,
and carry with them the passion and dedication of these small farmers.
The fruit gets a one week cold soak
and 20% whole cluster fermentation. After pressing, the wine sees one third
new oak and is egg white fined prior to bottling.
Syren Pinot Noir Central Otago – I found it easier to describe
this wine relative to my personal reference points – it has the forward dark
cherry and berry flavors of Russian River fruit, and lovely spice without the
cola highlights. It also has the structure and focus of the best Carneros
Pinots without the austerity.
This is a beautiful expression of the variety, or rather, a beautiful wine through which the fruit is expressed. It tastes as if the winemaker was both skilled and smart enough to get out of the way, and let the wine be what it wanted to be. How fortunate. This is a beauty.
They ripped nearly all the vines,
repaired the trellis system, reoriented the vines and replanted to Pinot Noir.
The wine is vinified on site, with seven clones included in this selection.
The yields were less than 2 tons per
acre. The fruit was completely destemmed and crushed before undergoing a four
to five day cold soak. After fermentation, the wine rested on the skins for an
additional eighteen days before being placed in barrel, 30% of which was new
oak. After 10 months in barrel, the wine was racked twice prior to bottling
– it was not fined.
2001 Syren Pinot Noir
Martinborough – bright cherry and raspberry aromas that follow on the
palate with hints of rhubarb – lighter in the midpalate than the Otago, this
wine is a bit more elegant and “feminine”, if you will. It pairs very
nicely with food.
A third wine, the Marlborough, will
join the portfolio in summer of 2003.
With the prices of California Pinot
reaching $40 and up for premium quality, these selections at $25 – $35 are
more than competitive in price and quality. Like other wines I have recently
described, these Pinots generously allow the fruit of their origin to express
themselves. I look forward to the growth and success of Syren, and I think you
would enjoy meeting Laura as much as I did.
These are wines that speak......er,
sing for themselves.
wines of Syren Vineyards are
Left Coast Correspondent to the Gang of Pour
© Allan Bree February 2003