Sterling Albert Winery 2011 Syrah

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, CA; 14% ABV
$6 at the Oakland, CA, on 2 Nov

SterlingAlbert_2011_SyrahAlxVlyThis wine showed very nice and smooth, dark Shiraz flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry, and cranberry, but fatally marred by a weird chemical aroma and taste.  It struck me as some sort of organic solvent that seemed very familiar but I couldn’t quite place, although I noticed no ill effects from drinking it.  The next day it seemed, if anything, worse.  Anyway, it’s unfortunate because this would otherwise be a pretty good wine.  Some may find it drinkable, but I have to go with Thumbs Down.

This may be another instance of a contaminated lot.  Did anyone have a good one?  Another query: has anyone tried the Sterling Albert Lodi Zin, also around now?


10 thoughts on “Sterling Albert Winery 2011 Syrah

  1. dluber

    Found a white-labelled 2011 bottling of this wine at Pinole, says “Alexander Valley” but not “Sonoma”, alcohol 14.1%. Same aroma – like a freshly unwrapped PVC shower curtain.

  2. 5-Star Bar

    I have had the chance to try a previous vintage of a similar wine. The 2005 Sterling Albert Syrah Sonoma County was very pleasant as I recall, especially after having a few years of bottle age to settle down and integrate.

    So it was with great enthusiasm and high hopes (tempered by the recognition that the 2011 vintage was an uneven one) that I picked up a bottle of the 2011 Syrah Alexander Valley. I opened the bottle shortly after I purchased it to taste a small sample, and if necessary, to recork it with a little bit of air inside to begin the “breathing” process.

    Upon opening the flaw in the bouquet that BargainWhine described as a “weird chemical aroma” was readily apparent. BW also likened it to a seemingly familiar yet hard to precisely identify “organic solvent”. I had a very similar reaction although upon reflection (and after several more sniffs and sips) I eventually came to a somewhat different conclusion about how to accurately describe my perception of the olfactory and savory defect. For me the off aroma and flavor was not of an organic, but rather an inorganic nature which is why it seemed so out of place in an essentially “organic” product such as wine:

    New Vinyl / Polyvinyl Chloride

    Ironically enough, when I researched Vinyl on Wikipedia it mentions that the etymology or origin of the word vinyl is from the Latin word vinum – wine. Indeed after being open for 5 days or so the off flavor and aroma did subside sufficiently to reveal a fruity, tastier and less synthetic seeming Syrah.

    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi 5-Star Bar. Thank you for confirming what I thought might be a figment of my imagination! However, I can neither confirm nor deny your identification of the strange aroma / flavor. And thanks for letting me know that, if I wait a few more days, the wine might be okay to drink. I still have a saved half bottle.

      Chemistry-wise, though, I have to say that the chemistry of any molecules based on carbon, especially carbon chains as PVC is, is classified as “organic.” I’m sure others here, like Darrell, dluber, or grossoutwine, could be more specific. 🙂

      1. BargainWhine Post author

        I had saved a half bottle of this wine stoppered with very little air. I opened this second half a couple hours ago, and it’s better but still rather weird, much like, as you say and dluber seconds, “PVC shower curtain.” Given these experiences, i.e., no positive reports, I can’t recommend this wine.


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