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Preston Vineyards Sirah-Syrah 1985

My interest in wine goes back to my early days of college at UC Berkeley. I spent time hanging out at a local liquore store on University Avenue learning about wines. Being low on funds, my favorites were the low cost undiscovered varieties such as Zinfiandel, Syrah, and Barbera. California wineries were experimenting with these at the time.

preston.jpg I got a bit more serious in the mid-1980's and started reading Wine Spectator. I set aside a few bottles. I've drunk most of them through the years. I ended up with one bottle left from those learning years, a Preston Vineyards Sirah-Syrah 1985. Funny to see the price tag still on the bottle. It was a $10.49 from Safeway.

I decided to open it for my birthday. It was probably the best one to save for 20 years since Petit Sirah is long aging varietal. Lou Preston was an early producer of Syrah in the Dry Creek Valley near Healdsburg. One of his neighbors recommended that he plant Petit Sirah along with Syrah. From those early experiements, he started bottling a blend between the two. He still makes the blend but it is now mostly syrah.

Petit Sirah is a different grape from syrah and has a long history of plantings in California. It is a thick tannic grape which makes for a long aging wine. It has lots of spice and berry.

cap.jpg The 1985 bottling was 54% Petit Sirah and 46% Syrah. The cork was in good shape with a small buildup of crystals. Not much sediment in the bottle but I didn't take any chances and decanted part of it. The color was still deep purple with a slight maroon color from age. Not at all what I expected of a 20 year bottle. The arma was good. The taste was outstanding. Smooth with a nice heavy body and a wondeful flavor of black cherries. The fruit was so surpising. I did not expect it. The flavor did weaken after a little airing. Fortunately, I did not decant it all so it was still fresh on a second pour.

Overall, a very enjoyable way to celebrate a birthday.

Comments (2)

Mark Watson-Walker:

I have just opened one of two bottles of Preston Vineyards Sirah Syrah 1985 that I bought in Austin, Texas in the autumn of 1988.

I've forgotten the name of the supermarket that I bought it from, but it was 'a cut above' the well known names and stocked wines such as the German Erbacher Marcobrunn.

Congratulations on producing such a good, long-lifed wine.

England 22 Feb 2008

Wow, this brings back memories. This exact wine put Syrah/P.S. on my radar forever. I remember having it at a Mexican restaurant with a friend. The bouquet when the cork was popped blew us away (in a place with a lot of other aromas going on already)! Absolutely delicious and to this day one of the most memorable bottles I've ever had. I was also beginning to read WS at the time. Believe they rated it 91. Thanks for sharing this and bringing me back!

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