Two Pyrenees Vineyard Reds: 2011 Syrah & 2009 Merlot

Pyrenees Vineyard & Cellars
2009 Merlot ABV: 13.2%
2011 Syrah ABV: 13.4%
Purchased: Salem, OR 11-5-2014 (during wine sale)

I wasn’t going to do these as a combined review (actually I wasn’t going to do a review at all this weekend); however, because of the recent comments on the Pyrenees Grenache (and we liked that one quite a lot), I decided to just put these two together and do a “Wine of the same vineyard” tasting. The Grenache sold out right after the last review, so I wasn’t sure how long these would last.

Ashlander mentioned on the Grenache review that she wasn’t fond of the 2009 Merlot, that it was very “closed”. I thought I’d just bunch the two wines together and if we did or didn’t like either, there’d be another one open.

FullSizeRenderI’ll start with the 2009 Merlot. I decanted this but  I’m not sure it was necessary, I didn’t really find it closed. A taste test poured from the bottle, showed it to be very fruit forward and slightly sweet. Cherries, plums, cola and a bit of mocha were predominant both in the nose and the taste. Not sure what the residual sugars are, but this is a sweeter wine (again, along the lines…but not quite as sweet…of the Apothic red blend). We didn’t get any sense of the licorice or vanilla that is mentioned in their publicity blurb. Body is medium and nice, smooth in the mouthfeel. After decant, it is slightly less sweet but not enough to make the decant worthwhile. This wine sells for $32 at the vineyard and $29 on Amazon. It’s not a bad Merlot. It is just more along the lines of the current consumer trending wines…sweeter, not much in the way of dimensionality and I’m guessing it would be very food friendly.  While it’s not my cup of tea, I can see it being very popular with most mainstream wine buyers.  Other than being too sweet for me there’s nothing at all offensive here. So if you like Apothic or Ménage à Trois red, you’ll likely enjoy this one for $5.99. I honestly think with the right food to balance out the sweetness, it would be enjoyable. Normally I wouldn’t pair Merlot with something spicy…but this one I would.  Also, it opens with a cork-style top.

FullSizeRender-1On to the 2011 Syrah. This wine isn’t listed anywhere online, so I had no idea what to expect. My only hope that I might like it was that RB commented (on the Grenache review) that he very much liked the 2010 Syrah. However, the vintages were so completely different (2011 being a much colder, wetter vintage) that I am pretty sure you could put the two wines side by side and get completely different tastes.

There was an odd smell right after I opened the Syrah (screw cap top), at first I thought it was a bit vegetal but it passed so quickly that I’m not sure what it was.

I probably should have tasted the Syrah first but since I decanted the Merlot, I wanted to taste it before and after decanting, so it went through the process first.

Of the two, I personally prefer the Syrah. Its profile is closer to my own taste preferences. It is slightly lighter bodied than the Merlot. Drier (much), but still fruit forward. Taste-wise I am getting black pepper, spice (not sure which spice…it’s rather undefined but spice in general) plum, black cherry…and following up with some savory notes (bacon?) with a bit of herbal undertones. There’s also a little harshness/lack of balance on this one that might be evened out on day two. This seems to have more alcohol heat than the Merlot as well (my thought is that it’s contributing to the lack of balance), even though it’s only .2% different. Overall, it’s the more complex wine of the two, though neither is showing much in the way of structure. The Grenache is still my personal favorite, between the three wines available at GO.

I’d say the Merlot is drinkable to me (with food); possibly a thumbs up to many others. The Syrah is a moderate thumbs up.

note: After I posted the review my husband said he did not find the Merlot as sweet as I found it. He agrees with the “drinkable” and “thumbs up” designations but said that I was noticing the sugars more than he was.


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