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Stunning Syrah from Washington

Northside Staff

Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Chris Coronel, Dana Malley, Jason Wentworth, Travis Mordus

Despite the recent decline in sales of Australian wine in the U.S., fruit driven Australian Shiraz is still popular with American wine drinkers. Many wine lovers are still less familiar with wines made from the same grape in California and Washington, where it frequently goes by its French name, Syrah. Despite the fact that west coast vintners are responsible for many outstanding examples of Syrah (Shiraz), many complain that it’s still a tough sell.

The staff at Northside Wine and Spirits recently decided to blind taste a selection of 15 Syrah wines from California, Washington, and Australia, priced between $15 and $25. It was an interesting tasting, with the staff generally showing a preference for the U.S. west coast wines over their Australian counterparts.

The staff’s favorite wine, by far, was from Washington, the 2008 Descendants Liegeois-Dupont “Cuvée Marcel Dupont,” produced by Hedges Family Estate, priced $24.99 per bottle. This delicious wine is imbued with lovely fruit aromas and flavors reminiscent of blackberry and blueberry, with a faintly peppery, herby quality adding complexity to the wine’s long, well balanced finish.
It is named for the French family of the estate’s co-proprietor, Anne-Marie Liegeois-Dupont (wife of Tom Hedges), with the name of the cuvée paying homage to her grandfather, Marcel Dupont. The wine is the first varietally labeled Syrah released by Hedges, best known for their Cabernet and Merlot based wines, and only 359 cases were produced.

The wine’s grapes were grown in the estate’s Les Gosses (“the kids”) vineyard in the Red Mountain viticultural area in the central southern part of Washington. Tom Hedges believes that the warm days and cool nights typical of the area’s growing season are ideal for producing characterful, well balanced Syrah.

Hedges feels that this wine, two thirds of which was aged in new oak, has an aging potential of 10 to 15 years. That being said, the wine’s intense fruit makes it attractive at this youthful stage. Try this bold yet graceful beauty with braised beef dishes, game, firm mountain cheeses like Gruyere and Fontina, or dishes containing wild mushrooms.

If you would like the full tasting list along with the rankings, please email us your name, phone number, city, and zip code to

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