Russian Hill 2003 Syrah “Ellen’s Block”

Russian River Valley, CA; 14.8% ABV
$7 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 24 Feb

RussianHill_2003_Syrah_EllensBlockThis is the second review of the Russian Hill wines I picked up.  I like this much better than the 2006 “Tara Vineyard” Pinot Noir, which I also liked.  This is terrific Syrah for California, and it’s not even the Syrah that Seedboy recommended most.  (He said the 2006 “Top Block” was better, and liked the 2001 “Windsor Oaks” the best.  Did I get that right, SB?)

The wine is a little closed at first, but after about 10 minutes in the glass, or about an hour in a decanter, it shows a dense, gamey, dark-fruited nose.  The rich, supply textured palate shows flavors of dark red and black fruit: plum, raspberry, black pepper,  a little blackberry, and heavier, funky earth / supporting oak.  While the fruit is definitely New World, the dark earthy funkiness could be French.  I’m pretty sure none of my bottle will survive to see the next day.

10 thoughts on “Russian Hill 2003 Syrah “Ellen’s Block”

  1. Darrell

    Haven’t had this since the sale and was pleasantly surprised by the fruity, almost floral cool weather Syrah nose. It almost resembled a PN nose and if somebody said this was PN I might have believed except for the color. Quite nice to have with dinner and not as heavy handed as the 2001 RH Windsor Oaks Summit Syrah.

  2. seedboy

    The Berkeley store still has some of the Ellen’s and the Top Block, also the 2003 Windsor Oaks that seemed volatile to me.

  3. seedboy

    BargainWhine, you remembered my evaluation correctly. Darrell, I did not get that from the Top Block. The bottle I tasted had been open four hours or so.

  4. Darrell

    Along with the 2003 Ellen’s Block I tasted in a side by side tasting the 2002 EB, 2004 Estate, and the 2006 Top Block. The ’03 EB, ’04 Estate and ’06 Top Block had ample and more acidity than the ’02 EB. The ’02 EB was oaky on the nose, the ’04 Estate coconutty, the ’03 better balanced between grape and wood. On the ’06 Top Block I differ from SB in the nose coming across as lightly skunky and mercaptanish, extremely gamey to be kind. This isn’t a mercaptan found in a reduced lees accumulation and so not due to the winemaking but something from the wine aging. Burnt oak? The 2003 Windsor Oaks Summit Syrah I don’t find quite as offensive as SB, just not quite as fine as the 2001 WOS bottling, but neither were the other syrahs.

    1. Expat

      I opened the 2006 Top Block last night and was sorely disappointed. It had a bracing tartness that wouldn’t go away so i gave up and opened a Brandsen cab.


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