Russian Hill 2001 Syrah “Windsor Oaks Summit”

Russian River Valley, CA; 15.0% ABV
$7 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 26 Feb

RussianHill_2001_Syrah_WindsorOaksOut of the recent batch of Russian Hill wines, I believe this one received the most praise.  I agree it was pretty good, although it sure took its time getting there.

This wine seemed for a good while to be rather acid and relatively simple.  However, after a couple hours of air, it started showing more depth, with flavors of darker purple plum and purple grape.  With another 45 minutes, it shows richer flavors of dark purple plum, black pepper, tangy purple cherries, a little earthy funk.  I thought it reached its peak about 3.5 hours after opening and decanting, showing dark purple / black fruit, charred meat, black pepper / earth.   I preferred the relative youth and richness of the 2003 Ellen’s Block Syrah, but this is very good.

8 thoughts on “Russian Hill 2001 Syrah “Windsor Oaks Summit”

  1. EHL

    Just finished the last bottle of the RH ’01 WO Syrah I brought up to Seattle and it was drinking beautifully…a big, bold and richly elegant wine.

    Compared to the tasty RH ’02 and ’07 “Street Shiraz” that has surfaced recently in Washington GOs, the Windsor Oaks is clearly superior to its red-headed stepchild…but then again the WO was retailing in the $40+ premium range…


  2. EHL

    Opened up one of the recent bottles I picked up and it’s a great relief to report that the ’01 RH WOS is drinking beautifully…from popping the cork to two days later.

    No bottle variation whatsoever!

    Rich, sumptuous and mysteriously rewarding…the 14-year old black-purple liquid delights all senses in all ways.

  3. EHL

    Glad to see you enjoyed your bottle, BW, and that we can finally agree on something…for a change…LOL.

    Went down to Oakland GO today and got really lucky…snagged the last two lonely bottles of the much sought-after ’01 RH Windsor Oaks Syrah. They somehow mysteriously found their way to the shelves.

    Plenty of ’03 RH WO Syrah, though, along with the RH Leras and Tara PNs…and a smattering of the Estate PN, too.

    1. JoelA

      Finally opened a bottle of this wine. It’s extremely purple; quite fruity with some spice, a long finish, a very rich texture and a bit of heat (15% abv). Frankly it doesn’t seem like a wine that’s 13 years old. The color is of a very young wine and here’s no obvious oxidation. Seems almost like a barrel sample.

      No, I’m not accusing anyone of mislabeling but I’d like to hear some thoughts on how a wine this old could have this appearance. Stored under an inert gas atmosphere in stainless steel?

      1. Darrell

        Joel, I was reading EHL’s recent tasting of the RH ’01 WO Syrah and saw your comment about the seemingly young RH ’01 WO Syrah. I assume standard modern inert technology for winemaking and treatment all the way to the bottling line and so beyond this, I would have to attribute the youthful, deeply toned appearance to one or a combination of circumstances. The first would be the vintage and serendipitous picking time and I say this because the ’03 isn’t nearly as deep toned as the ’01. There could have been a different winemaking practice for heavier extraction this year. There also could have been a small admixture of a teinturier grape variety such as rubired or Alicante Bouschet and others, but I doubt this. Usually Syrah is the teinturier and highly suspect in some of the old Pinots. I assume good storage for most of such releases, probably better than I could have done, had I bought them on their release. I can only remember one instance from GO where there was, ahem, accelerated aging of reds. In my opinion, many of the readers underestimate the ageability of reds and tend to project drinking some of GO bottles within a few years or less, whereas I don’t mind holding onto some of these wines longer, and this on top of where waiting isn’t too much of an option anymore (thinking vintage ports here). I haven’t tried a bottle of ’01 RH Windsor Oaks Syrah recently because there is no hurry, but I will check to see if the hue of the rim miniscus is truly purple when I do. BTW, I had a 2010 Yarra Valley Syrah (none of this Shiraz stuff) from GO which wasn’t dark and inky, but med. toned, lingering flavors and nice, complex aromatics that was aged in old, large cooperage and hence, tasted mostly of the grape. I can enjoy both styles.

        1. EHL

          Well, you guys are obviously into some pretty technical analysis here, way above my pay grade…lol.

          My last bottle of the ’01 WO was again a very dark, almost black purple throughout the body, and I didn’t notice any bricking or browning in coloration on the rim…just a heavily-encrusted black residue on the cork with some accompanying sediment in the bottle.

          FWIW, regarding Joel’s musing, it’s hard to imagine that Russian Hill Estate would mislabel a younger wine as older, especially that much older, since I would imagine many people in the market would avoid gambling on one for fear of it being “over the hill,” no pun intended.

          However, at the GO price of $5-7, with RH’s well-earned reputation, it’s a match made in heaven…that panned out…


          1. Darrell

            The ” just a heavily-encrusted black residue on the cork” is enough evidence of some aging in the bottle.

          2. Darrell

            EHL, just had a second bottle since the sale of the 2001 Windsor Oaks syrah and it hasn’t changed much. Storage is neck down, shake the bottle to get sediment off cork, place the bottle in the wine rack at about 30 degrees tilt, wait for sediment to settle on the side of bottle. At time to drink, the punt edge is checked to see if sediment is at the bottom. Come time to pop the cork, I found not too much sediment at the edge of the punt, but when the bottle was stood upright, just a sheetload of sediment started sliding down to the bottom so I had to wait for further settling before opening. The only change I noticed was a toasty, rubbery aroma I hadn’t noticed before, otherwise it still had the nice mouthfeel, the deep toned purple-red color to color the legs. The alcohol didn’t bother me as far as burn went. Some Rhones burn more. In spite of the shaking and settling, there was still quite a bit of sediment on the cork when extracted.


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