A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 500: 500th Blog

Kacaba Syrah 2000–2013

Tuesday, June 17: This is the 500th edition of my blog. Cue the fireworks.

fireworks fireworks fireworks

Arrived home from Vienna and Deborah picked me up at the airport. Good to travel, good to be home. Tried to stay up as late as possible to get back to a normal sleeping rhythm. Went to bed at 10 pm, which was 4 am my body time.

Wednesday, June 18: Wrote an article for Lexpert magazine on Austrian wine and transcribed an article for Quench that I had written in pen on the airline’s puke bag, having no other paper at hand. The theme was how to smuggle wine into your cellar without your wife knowing.

For dinner, barbecued hamburger with a bottle of Frei Brothers Reserve Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (dense purple colour; spicy blackcurrant, plum and dark chocolate on the nose; full-bodied, sweet blackcurrant and creamy plum flavour backed by lively acidity. Soft mouth-feel (89)).

Thursday, June 19: Wrote wine reviews for Quench magazine and worked on Grapes for Humanity’s financial year end for the auditors. Then rewarded myself with a tasting:

  • Mark West Pinot Noir 2012 (Santa Lucia Highlands): ruby with a tawny rim; sweet strawberry nose with a tobacco leaf note; full-bodied and warm with alcohol; cherry flavour with dried herbs. (88)
  • Blackstone Winemaker’s Select Merlot 2012 (California): solid ruby colour; plummy nose with charred oak and herbal notes; sweet fruit with black cherry flavours, moderate length, dry and full-bodied. (87)
  • CedarCreek Pinot Gris 2013 (Okanagan Valley): pale straw colour; peach and peach pit nose; richly extracted peach flavour with balancing acidity; Alsace-style, full in the mouth with an engaging thread of minerality and a long finish. (89)
  • CedarCreek Chardonnay 2012 (Okanagan Valley): pale straw colour; minerally, apple nose with the merest suggestion of oak support; medium-bodied, dry, yellow apple with citrus acidity. Good length. (89)
  • CedarCreek Platinum Chardonnay Block 5 2012 (Okanagan Valley): light straw colour; lifted nose of honey, apple and spice; crisply dry, green apple and honey flavours with a lively acidic finish that gives the wine great length. (91)
  • CedarCreek Ehrenfelser 2013 (Okanagan Valley): very pale with a lime tint; lightly aromatic with a minerally, citrus peel nose; medium-bodied with a white peach and green plum flavour. Crisply dry with mouth-watering acidity. (88)
  • CedarCreek Gewurztraminer 2013 (Okanagan Valley): pale straw colour; spicy, rose petal nose; mouth-filling, unctuous, off-dry, lychee and grapefruit flavours, a little high in alcohol. Needs more time to develop aromas. (87–89)
  • CedarCreek Viognier 2013 (Okanagan Valley): light straw colour; floral, peach nose; rich and full on the palate with peach and apricot flavours and a suggestion of honey. Caressing mouth feel. (89+)
  • CedarCreek Rosé Pinot “Noir” 2013: salmon colour; cherry and wild strawberry nose, flavours that replicate in the mouth; thick on the palate, a touch of sweetness with a candied note on the finish. A little more acidity would do it justice. (87)
  • CedarCreek Riesling 2013: very pale colour with a lime tint; minerally, grapefruit rind nose; crisply dry, green apple and grapefruit flavours, racy acidity on the tart finish. A wine for Riesling lovers. (89)
  • CedarCreek Platinum Block 3 Riesling 2013: palest straw colour with a lime tint; minerally, citrus nose; tart, green apple and lemon flavours. Mouth-tingling acidity, fresh as a mountain stream. (90)

Thursday, June 19: Wrote an article for County Grapevine magazine on Grüner Veltliner and how it can age. Tasted Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2012: deep golden colour with a high toned forest-floor nose of tropical fruit; over-extracted flavours of pineapple and orange with vanilla oak; fleshy and broad. (87). With dinner of BBQ hamburgers, Wolf Blass Gold Label Barossa Shiraz 2012: dense purple-black colour; savoury, blackberry nose; herbal, black fruit flavours with lively acidity (88+).

Friday, June 20: A tasting of 13 Kacaba Syrahs back to 2000 led by winemaker John Tummon. Mike Kacaba planted his Vineland vineyard in 1998. “My dream was Syrah. I had a passion for Shiraz.” He bought the stock in California, rootstock 3309, clone 877. Sue-Ann Staff was first winemaker, followed by Jim Warren. Rob Warren (no relation), then Beth Mischuk, and in 2005 John Tummon.

Kacaba winemaker John Tummon

  • Kacaba Syrah 2000 (coolest growing season, wet): browning ruby colour; spicy, leather, soy and pepper nose; mature, drying fruit but nicely balanced, savoury, licorice flavour; lovely mouth feel. (89)
  • Kacaba Syrah 2001 (lady bug year): rancid peanut… (75)
  • Kacaba Syrah 2002 (severe drought, good harvest weather): dense ruby colour; vanilla oak, cedar, high toned, blackberry and licorice nose; dry, savoury, medium-bodied, still firm and delicious. (90)
  • Kacaba Syrah 2003 (cool year): ruby with a cooked plum note; dry and drying out and acidity. (86)
  • Kacaba Syrah Reserve 2004 (hot, sunny Sept-Oct): deep ruby colour; tobacco, pepper, mature soy notes; dry, savoury, very St. Joseph style. (88)
  • Kacaba Syrah 2006 (warm, rainy spring, November harvest): deep ruby colour; structured red berry flavours, firm, elegant with evident tannins. (89)
  • Kacaba Syrah Proprietor’s Reserve 2007 (warm and dry, stressed vines; “Best vintage I’ve seen since I’ve been at Kacaba”): dense ruby colour; cedar, blackberry, vanilla oak; sweet blackberry with herbal-savoury and tobacco notes, firmly structured. Great length. (91)
  • Kacaba Syrah 2008 (cool spring and fall): solid ruby colour; peppery, blackberry, vanilla with cedary notes; dry, lean, raspberry flavour. Somewhat dilute. (86)
  • Kacaba Syrah Single Vineyard 2009: deep ruby colour; smoky, peppery, herbal blackberry nose; dry, medium-bodied, savoury with lively acidity. (88)
  • Kacaba Syrah Reserve 2010 (co-fermented with 5% Viognier): deep ruby colour; cedary, vanilla oak, toasted herbs, tobacco nose; dry and savoury, black raspberry, well extracted fruit; elegant, firmly structured with lively acidity. (91)
  • Kacaba Syrah Single Vineyard 2010 (co-fermented with 5% Viognier): dense ruby colour; herbal, vanilla, black fruits, chunky mouth feel, firm structure, earthy note; dry with a tannic lift on the finish. (88–89)
  • Kacaba Syrah Proprietor’s Select 2011: dense ruby colour; savoury, peppery, floral note on the nose; richly extracted, sweet fruit tinged with tobacco and herbal notes; well balanced and firm with a tannic lift on the finish. (90)
  • Kacaba Syrah Terrace Vineyard 2011: deep ruby colour; smoky, tarry, blackberry nose; dry, lean and sinewy with savoury, herbal flavours; firmly structured. (89)
  • Kacaba Syrah Reserve 2012 (co-fermented with 5% Viognier): deep ruby-purple colour; cedary, vanilla note with a light floral note; richly extracted blackberry fruit flavour, firmly structured, chunky mouth feel. Needs time. (90)
  • Kacaba Syrah 2013 (Main Vineyard barrel sample all with 7% Viognier): deep ruby; smoky, herbal blackberry nose; medium-bodied, dry, raspberry flavour, elegant, showing well.
  • Kacaba Syrah 2013 (Flats Vineyard barrel sample): deep ruby colour; smoky, herbal blackberry, floral raspberry note.
  • Kacaba Syrah 2013 (Terrace Vineyard barrel sample): deep ruby colour; chunky, pencil lead, dry, herbal and succulent.


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