Rhone Ranger, the 2007 Olson Ogden Unti Syrah

Some call it Shiraz and others call it Syrah, but whatever you call it this is the Syrah you don't won't to miss out on! This is massive wine from the folks at Olson Ogden. if you are not familiar with Olson Ogden, this review represents a good opportunity to get acquainted.

Some times you wonder what's in a name, and in thinking about the label I wondered about how they came up with the name. In taking a peek at their website it appears Tim Olson has been a winemaker in Northern California for more than 21 years joined forces with John Ogden who manages the marketing, sales and business operations for Olson Ogden Wines and together they are Olson Ogden Wines.

Perhaps you are wondering what is their philosophy and approach to making wine? Well they state it this way; "Our primary goal is to produce balanced, complex and tasty wines that express the terroir and vintage from which they come. In order to make the best wines, we believe it must start with the best ingredients. And that starts in the vineyard. We prefer hillsides to valley floor, organic farming to agro-chemical approaches and we feel the most important variable in the equation is the attitude of the grower and their commitment to excellence. " In my view it is Mission accomplished!

Regarding the labels themselves I was surprised to see that each label is exactly the same size and shape with the same artwork. The only difference is the individual vineyard or AVA designation name on each bottle. There is no wine description or vineyard information on the back label. But since it appears most of the relevant info about these wines can be found online it does not pose much of a problem, since most folks carry a PC in their pocket disguised as phone. The only concern I would be worried about is if I was working in a tasting room with nearly identical labels that I may end up giving someone the wrong wine. But from a cost aspect and the laborious labeling requirements this makes perfect sense and in the end is a positive thing for the consumer.

Why is this wine being tagged as a Rhone Ranger? While I was drinking this wine I think I could hear Hermitage calling? Okay really I just thought it was a catchy title, but I think it's important to point out where Syrah got its start. So if you're old pro in the wine world feel free to skip over this brief history and if you're new to wine please click on the links I have provided to give yourself a little more detail. Now according to the French Wine Guide, "The "Coteaux (slope) de l'Hermitage" dominates the small town of Tain l'Hermitage in the Rhône Valley. The first plantations date from the 10th century but it is under Louis the XIV that l'Hermitage obtains its credential letters... Hermitage was the favorite cru of the Tsar court in Russia.The red wines of Hermitage are generous and well balanced, strong aromas and a complete bouquet. Wines from Hermitage, France - Rhone tolerate aging very well and become smooth and mellow when they mature. So to it is with the Olson Ogden Unti Vineyards this wine has the stuffing to age and mature into even better wine than the one I sampled for this review, so I have dubbed this wine a "Rhone Ranger".

The Wine: 2007 Olson Ogden Wines Unti Vineyard Syrah

First Swirl: Here is a wine that's opaque in color with thick legs that cling to the sides of the glass long after swirling the wine. In the glass this wine appears as ripe, fleshy with generous colored blackberry core, giving way to the cerise colored rim.

First Sniff: Just after pouring this wine and putting my nose to it there was a explosive perfumed bouquet which lept from the glass full of raspberry, blueberry, spice-cake, potpourri and anise, with a subtle mocha undertone. I thought to myself, wow this going to be awesome right from the moment cork popped to the very last drop, this wine was everything a Syrah should be and more. The nose knows!

First Sip: On the palate, where chewy cherry-cola and licorice qualities are complicated by notes of violet pastille and black cardamom. Large-scaled, fat and spicy, with strong finishing grip and supple tannins which linger on and on. In other words, this is a phat-wine with no pretense! A drink now and drink often rating of 93 points! If you can wait and cellar there will be an appreciable difference as this was just released this past summer.

Vineyards and Varietal Composition: These grapes were sourced from the Untis vineyard in the Dry Creek AVA of Sonoma. The Unti's began using bio-dynamic vineyard practices in 2004 and as a result has seen a shift in the wines personality! I would say it's this wine has a pretty sunny disposition. As far as I can tell this 100% Syrah.

Full Disclosure: In the interest of full-disclosure, this wine represents one of five samples sent to the Cuvée Corner Wine Blog for a review.

Alcohol and Ageing: This wine weighed in at 14.5% alcohol and glided effortlessly on my palate with no appreciable hotness. This wine was aged in 70% New French Oak 17 Months.

Where to Purchase and Price: This wine retails in most markets for about $38.00 and can be found in a few restaurants here in San Diego and a few select wine stores of which I could not find one that had a current selection. But of course this wine can be purchased directly from their website by clicking here Olson Ogden Wines which is located in in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Just a note to those considering making a trek over to see them, they do not have a tasting room.

Other voices: On March 31, 2007 Wine Spectator gave the 2004 Olson Ogden Wines Unti Vineyard Syrah rated 93 points by Wine Spectator. Want More Info? Connoisseur's Wine Guide gave the 2006 Olson Ogden Wines Unti Vineyard Syrah given 91 points and 2 puffs by Connoisseur's Wine Guide. Need More Info? Do you see a trend? My palate says a hearty Amen to that question.

Enjoy the video below by their wine maker commenting on the best way to taste wine!

My Recommendation: This is a lot of wine for the price. At this price point it's not in my everyday drinker category, but it's is a wine of exceptional depth and flavor. Immediately approachable right out of the bottle. The quality of this wine makes it a QPR winner in my book, because wines of this caliber normally will retail for well over $50 in most cases. So do your self a favor and give them a call or just order some online. They do have some discounts on buying variety packs with free shipping, which is a huge discount as shipping can cost as much as $30-$40 bones depending on many factors. But this is a wine not to be missed and you will be very happy to have some of this wine in your cellar. Until next time, stay thirsty my friends!

Stay Tuned: Their 2007 Olson Ogden Wines Russian River Pinot Noir is the next review in the pipeline and deserves it's own in depth profile.


Unknown said…
Bill, what a review! Thanks for tasting and sharing your thoughts on your blog. Come up to the winery for a barrel taste the next time you find yourself in wine country. John (Olson Ogden Wines)

Popular Posts