Extremism in defense of tastiness is no vice.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tasting Notes: 2004 Big Easy Syrah by Fess Parker

This past weekend provided me with the opportunity to finally visit the Kennedy Manor Dining Room and Bar, across from the Edgewater Hotel at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Langdon Street. While there, I had the chance to taste a very nice Syrah, the 2004 "Big Easy" by Santa Barbara's Fess Parker Winery.

It's not just a clever name. This wine is easy to drink, with big flavors and a formidable 16.1% alcohol content. Maybe it's not a coincidence that Fess Parker played Davy Crockett in the 1950's television series: the full, smoky, berry flavors seem befitting a legendary frontiersman (or at least one who drank wine instead of rye or the entire Mississippi River).

The nose of this dark ruby Syrah is smoky, with pronounced blueberry, blackberry, and plum. Beneath the fruit, one notices spice and a bit of chocolate, as well as a subtle but unmistakable hint of ethanol. These notes are altogether pleasant, but not particularly remarkable.

The real star here is taste. This is a sumptuous, jammy wine, medium-heavy bodied with the plum and berry again taking center stage. Also present are pepper, oak, spice, and cherry, and the finish is slightly tannic. Somewhat surprisingly given their boldness, the flavors come together very smoothly, and are prominent enough not to be overwhelmed by the high alcohol content.

Altogether, this is a very nice bottle that should please a range of palates. I haven't tasted such a bold Syrah in quite some time, and the big, homey flavors will likely appeal to more casual drinkers. Still, there's enough lush elegance here to win over wine enthusiasts, and its vibrant execution should please fans of the grape.

The retail price is about $35.

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