Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review: **** $$$ Empyrean Cygnus Syrah, Yakima Valley, Washington, 2002 (and ***+ for the 2003)


By way of background, opening thoughts: Today we will be trying not one but three 10-year-old red varietals from Yakima Valley in Washington State.  Coming courtesy of Barclay's Wine importers, the cabernet sauvignon and merlot are blended as a meritage and the syrah stands alone.  The wines hail from the Empyrean label, and each is named for an astronomical constellation.  In these notes, we will try the Empyrean Cygnus Syrah, contrasting the 2002 vintage with 2003.

Original tasting and review for the 2002 vintage: This is Empyrean Cygnus Syrah, Yakima Valley, Washington, 2002, finished at 13.8% alcohol.

In the glass: Deep ruby and magenta.

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows deep, wooded, fresh fruit.  From the aroma, seems like this will be brighter and more youthful than imagined, with a lush background.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact soft, inky and lush, with perfumed aromas sailing off the palate and melding gracefully with sandy, gentle tannins.  Fades to a gentle, clean, lingering whisper finish.

In summary: Overall, rates a powerful four stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.

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Original tasting and review for the 2003 vintage: This is Empyrean Cygnus Syrah, Yakima Valley, Washington, 2003, finished at just a slightly lower 13.7% alcohol.

In the glass: Deep cherry red.

On the nose: Poured cool and swirled vigorously, shows a soft and fresh, deep red berry composition.  Seems like this will be sweet and red in tone, soft in texture.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact showing rich ripe red berries, think red bush cherries and perhaps even pomegranate.  The sip finishes with some cleansing acids and exits extremely clean.

In summary: Overall, rates a three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for its fresh character after almost a decade of aging.  Strong showing, though it registers just a notch behind the somewhat lusher 2002. 

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