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A lush, sexy wine, the 1999 Alexander Valley Vineyard Syrah is redolent with the scents and savor of black fruits, wood smoke and vanilla. Dense and masculine, this extroverted charmer is not without its feminine side. It possesses a substantial strength and tannin, but remains impeccably balanced. Happily, this Syrah's tannins are neither aggressive nor excessive. Wearing a regal purple robe and a long finish that lingers gleefully in the mouth, the Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah has everything going for it, including a boatload of flavor and an expressive, textured feel. Serve this lovely Syrah at cellar temperature (55°-60°) or at cool room temperature (60°-65°) depending upon the weather. The warmer it is out, the cooler we suggest that this Syrah be served.
Grilled Italian sausage, Pasta Arabbiata, chicken or pork in black olives, capers and Provencal spices, all make terrific accompaniments to the 1999 Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah. Foccacia or pizza with three cheeses, garlic and spinach provide another heady combination with the Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah. Certainly, roasts, marinated steaks, even game are other possibilities. Several panel members suggest the finer cuts of buffalo and ostrich as their favorite pairings with this wine. The lush nature of this wine's tannins lends great versatility to its accompaniments; even simple savory vegetarian dishes and a plate full of creamy cheeses provide excellent companions for this Alexander Valley offering. Alexander Valley Vineyards chef Jeff Young believes that the vineyard's Syrah, with its lush, rounded flavors, "fits lamb like a glove." This month's recipe is one of Jeff's own original recipes, created to accompany the estate's Syrah. More Michel Goubard Mont Avril Bourgogne Pinot Noir Secured! That's right! We bought more! We had to turn away so many of you on reorders of this exceptional Frech Gem, that we searched high and low for more…And found 15 cases! Rest assured it will go quickly, so call now if you want to reorder this one!
In 1842, seven years before the California Gold Rush populated the state, nineteenth century pioneer Cyrus Alexander came to Northern California, to the area now known as Sonoma County. Alexander settled the fertile valley now named for him, selecting the premier site for his own residence. Today, Cyrus Alexander's homestead enjoys a twentieth century renaissance as Alexander Valley Vineyards, a leading Sonoma County wine estate. Harry and Maggie Wetzel purchased this chosen property from the heirs of Cyrus Alexander in 1962. Recognizing the agricultural potential of the area, the Wetzel's hired vineyard manager Dale Goode and began planting premium varietal vineyards, pioneering the earliest trellised vineyards. Within 10 years, 125 acres were planted and plans were underway for a small estate winery. From the beginning, Alexander Valley Vineyards has been a family affair. Harry Wetzel III, better known as Hank, graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1974 with a degree in Enology and made the first estate-grown wines in 1975. With this inaugural vintage, Dale Goode and Hank Wetzel formed a strong working relationship, teaming together to produce exceptional estate-grown wines literally from the ground up. Hank's younger sister Katie Wetzel joined the family business in 1979 as Sales and Marketing Director. Today, over twenty years from inception, the Wetzel family continues to explore and fine tune vines and wines at Alexander Valley Vineyards, with the assistance of Vineyard Manager Mark Houser. Older vineyards are being replanted with newer rootstocks and clonal selections. Costly French oak barrels and advanced winemaking equipment replace older apparatus. Katie Wetzel Murphy remains a tireless ambassador and spokesperson as she travels to national and international markets, not only for Alexander Valley Vineyards, but also on behalf of the Sonoma County wine industry. Annual production topped 80,000 cases in 1998, with nine varietal wines. The principal varietals, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon comprise three quarters of the total. Small amounts of Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Syrah are also produced for a dedicated following. Less than 1000 cases of Alexander Valley Vineyard's Syrah are produced each year. Syrah or Shiraz? Whether we refer to this great varietal as Syrah or Shiraz, we are essentially talking about the same illustrious grape. Grown for centuries in the Rhone Valley of France, where it is responsible in all or part for some of the greatest red wines of France (Hermitage and Chateauneuf-du-Pape included), the exact origin of this full-flavored varietal remains in debate. However, historians do agree that it was brought to Europe from the Middle East, but when and by whom remains a mystery. Some believe that it was the Crusaders, while others point to the earlier legions of Probes or even the remnants of Alexander the Great's army on its return from Persia. The latter theory is particularly intriguing since Alexander himself was so enamored of the wines he found around the city of Shiraz in Central Persia, and certainly this city is the origin of the varietal's name. In any case, Syrah flourishes today in other warm climates, particularly in California and Australia where it often goes by its original name - Shiraz.
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