Smoking Loon Syrah 2010

Smoking Loon Syrah 2010
California, $15

By the time you read this, all 39,000 bottles of Shafer’s Relentless Syrah are likely to be snapped up. The huge, boozy wine graces the top position in the Wine Spectator‘s annual Top 100, which means it’s more instantly coveted than a golden ticket. I haven’t tasted it, though I do generally enjoy Shafer’s highly extracted, highly praised Cabernets and Merlots. The alcohol on the Relentless is a jaw dropping 15.6%—we’re getting dangerously close to port territory, folks—which is to say, this isn’t a syrah made in the classic Rhone incarnation. So given that you can’t get it, can I offer a substitute? The Smoking Loon Syrah is about one-fifth the price of the Relentless (and that was before the Top 100), it’s available everywhere and it has a full 2.1% less alcohol. I hate to sound like one of those alcohol curmudgeons who wants everything lean and mean, but the trend of high alcohol syrahs isn’t for me. And the Smoking Loon’s leaner profile means that its lovely soft plum and herb notes can sing a little. That being said, if you know where I can still source a bottle of the Relentless.

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