If you read my earlier article about 2 whites and a rose wine from Rust Wine Co, you would have seen the back label for these wine bottles. They have very detailed information on the grape clone(s) used, the vineyard and its geographic location, the soil type(s) in the vineyard, picking date, how the must was fermented (e.g. stainless steel), residual sugar level and percentage alcohol. I love this kind of information as it helps me try to understand what aromas and flavours I’m experiencing when I nose and taste a wine. Soil type is especially a hot topic where winemakers may note that certain soils give wines certain aromas and flavours.
Rust Wine Co provided me with 3 bottles of Syrah 2017 from 3 different vineyards with 3 different soil types to review. Would I be able to detect differences in these 3 wines? Would there be a correlation between the soil types and the aromas and flavours in the wines? Find out with me. The wines:
- Rust Wine Co Syrah 2017, Similkameen Valley, Lazy River Vineyard (BC $37)
- Rust Wine Co Syrah 2017, Golden Mile Bench, South Rock Vineyard (BC $37)
- Rust Wine Co Syrah 2017, Okanagan Valley, Ferreira Vineyard (BC $37)
Here are the 3 back labels for these wines.
The soil types from these 3 vineyards, plus Syrah clone, and harvest date are:
Lazy River Vineyard – Sandy clay loam with limestone and granitic rock, Clone 877 ungrafted, October 21, 2017
South Rock Vineyard – Fluvial fan of gravelly clay and eroded mountain rock, Clone 877, October 28, 2017
Ferreira Vineyard – Volcanic ash mixed with fine granitic sand, Clone 7, October 28, 2017
Two of the vineyards have the same clone, 877. This clone has low vigour but also low to medium sensitivity to botrytis. It has high sugar content and medium acidity. Lots of colour and tannins. Overall it produces aromatic, concentrated wines with good tannic structure. Clone 7 I believe is the same as clone 877.
Rock or Soil Type and Effects on Wine Aromas and Flavours
Here is my shortened list of the soil types and their characteristics on wine aroma and flavours which I produced in my earlier article, just showing the soil types identified in these 3 vineyards.
|Soil or Rock Type||Effects on Aromas and Flavours||Reasons for Aromas and Flavours|
|Limestone||Minerality and elegance to the
wines as well as high acid and firm tannins
|Limestone is white which does not absorb the sunlight as much and is, therefore, cooler for the vines, which means that the grapes can better keep their acidity levels. Limestone is alkaline that encourages grapes with higher acidity levels.|
|Sand||Gives fruitiness, elegance, less colour, lighter acidity and
|Sand is easy for vines to penetrate and go down deep for water, but does not get any minerals from the sand. As such, you get more fruit flavour and less tannins in the grapes.|
|Gravel||Minerality. Structure and power.||Pebbles provide excellent drainage, infertile, encouraging vine to send down deep roots which may then find limestone or clay subsoil. Gravel soils also help by reflecting sunshine to the leaves and berries to encourage full maturation.|
|Granite||Minerality||Retains heat. Has high pH that reduces wine acidity.|
|Less flavour and colour unless there is rigorous pruning regime.||Soil is very fertile making over vigorous vineyards that need better management.|
|Volcanic (basalt)||Smoky, earthy reds. High acidity. Salty minerality.||Mineral rich, reflects heat, well-drained and holds water.|
|Clay||Bold, muscular wines.||Soil stays cooler and retains water.|
The growing season temperature, amount of rain and sun, are all important factors to determine how ripe the grapes can get, their amount of sugar and acidity. The BC 2017 Vintage Report indicated, “A cold Canadian winter, unusually wet spring, and dry summer contributed to a well-balanced and quite normal growing season. This compared to previous years where above average temperatures saw early seasonal starts. Compared to 2016, in 2017 Okanagan Valley wineries experienced a later budbreak by two to three weeks, with an earlier harvest by three weeks. Slightly lower yields and phenomenal fruit quality delivered an excellent 2017 vintage, characterized by high flavour concentration, moderate alcohol, balanced tannins, complexity and natural acidity…Tannins in reds are rounder and softer…”.
The Similkameen Valley had very similar weather conditions to the Okanagan Valley.
I would expect wines with lots of fruit flavour, lower alcohol, and a good balance between softer tannins and acidity. According to the clone 877 I could expect high sugar content and medium acidity, with lots of colour and tannins. What did I actually experience when I tasted these three wines? Let’s find out.
My Tasting Notes
I tasted these 3 wines over 3 days. I will describe the initial aromas and flavours when first opening these wines and then any differences I picked up over the next two days.
Rust Wine Co Syrah 2017, Similkameen Valley, Lazy River Vineyard (BC $37) – This wine is approximately 98% opaque; garnet with some ruby tint. It has a pronounced, youthful aroma showing bacon, cassis, ripe black fruit, sweet spices (nutmeg in particular), ripe plums, some black pepper and cocoa. The bacon scent burns off quite quickly. With decanting on the second day onward the amount of ripe black fruit aroma increased and I picked up vanilla and more sweet spices. Also the aromas appeared sweeter. The wine upon first opening is dry with medium acidity and medium minus tannins. It is round with a lighter, soft & supple mouthfeel. The acidity and tannins stay in the background behind the fruit flavours. You get ripe cassis, black plums, and nutmeg flavours. On the mid palate toward to the finish you can add tart, bright crushed berry flavours. There are some sweet spices but not too strong. I also picked up some salty minerality. There is a touch of oak that picks up on the finish. With decanting on the second day the wine tastes more off-dry than dry. The bright berry flavours are toned down, more grounded flavour. I did not pick up any minerality on the second or third days of tasting this wine. Over the two days I would get more sweet ripe black fruit, less acidity and tannins on the palate. The wine has a medium-plus length finishing off-dry with tart blackberries, fine light tannins and some oak flavour. The wine had a peppery finish on the second day of decanting. I would recommend drinking this wine upon first opening it to enjoy the full range of aromas and flavours of this wine, plus the benefit of more tannins and acidity on the palate.
The soil type of loam could give me less flavour and colour, but clay could provide boldness to the wine, and the limestone and granite could give me higher acidity and minerality. The wine did have abundant flavour and colour, so the loam did not impact the grapes. There was boldness to this wine which could be from the clay. There was acidity and initial minerality, but not too strong, which could come from the limestone and granite.
Rating: without decanting. A very interesting wine. It has lots of vibrant black fruit and crushed berry flavours. Supple mouthfeel with restrained acidity and tannins.
Rust Wine Co Syrah 2017, Golden Mile Bench, South Rock Vineyard (BC $37) – 98% dull garnet colour. this wine has a medium intensity nose showing floral, mace, cassis, ripe black fruits, plums, and a touch of smokiness. On the second and third days the aromas were lighter than the first day. On the second day there was no smokiness apparent on the nose. The third day was quite interesting as I picked up dill and bacon along with the other mentioned aromas. The wine is slightly off dry, medium acidity and firmer tannic structure, with medium-plus body and flavour intensity. It has a round, plush mouthfeel with pepperiness that gets stronger toward the finish. You get raspberries, floral, plum and ripe black and red fruit flavours, but they are not as bright as the flavours from the Similkameen vineyard. There are also touches of vanilla and oak on the palate. With decanting on the second and third days the acidity and tannins are lessened as well as the fruit flavours, and the mouthfeel is not as plush. Red fruits seem more prominent than black fruit flavours. You do you some mace spice flavour on the second day onward, and a touch of chocolate. The wine has a medium plus length finishing with bright / tart red and black fruit and some sweet fruit flavours, pepperiness, and nutmeg spice. Some oaky dryness on the finish. With decanting you can add some vanilla flavour on the finish and mace spice. This wine has more intense aromas and flavours upon first opening the wine, and less as you decant it. I’d recommend drinking this wine as soon as you open it.
The soil type of gravelly clay could give me a bold, muscular wine with minerality. I would say that this wine does have the most tannic structure of the three wines and does have bold, ripe black and red fruit flavours upon first opening. I did not notice any minerality.
Rating: [4.5] – without decanting. You get a bigger, bolder Syrah with lots of black fruits, but also floral and pepperiness. A firmer tannic structure.
Rust Wine Co Syrah 2017, Okanagan Valley, Ferreira Vineyard (BC $37) – 98% dull opaque garnet colour. It has a light intensity aroma showing floral, nutmeg, purple fruits, blackberries, crushed berries and a hint of vanilla on the nose. The next 2 days the nose had an even lighter intensity aroma. The second and third days the aromas continued but i also picked up some mace spice. And on the third day, I also picked up a mintiness or aftershave type of aroma. On the palate the wine tasted off-dry, had a fuller body and flavour intensity. A fuller mouth feel. Roundish. Light tannins with slightly stronger acidity. You get juicy ripe purple fruit flavours, hints of oak, chocolate, and cedar, along with pepperiness from the mid-palate to the finish. A light acidic prickle on the tongue. With decanting on the second day the acidity and tannins became lighter. You still had the other fruit flavours and can add mace spice and some minerality. The mouthfeel though was lighter. The third day the wine settles in giving your ripe black fruits, red fruits, crushed berries and sweet spices. A smooth mouth feel. The wine overall felt very balanced. The fruit flavours, acidity and soft tannins worked together harmoniously. Also the wine tasted much drier compared to the first two days. The wine originally finished off-dry with sweet ripe red and black fruits, sweet spices and peppery. There were some drying tannins on the finish but more acidity. I would recommend either drinking this wine as soon as you open it to get the full fruitiness of the wine, or give it a long decant over 1-2 days to get a more balanced fruit/acid/tannins wine.
The soil types could give me a range of volcanic characters (Smoky, earthy reds. High acidity. Salty minerality), and sandy characters (fruitiness, elegance, less colour, lighter acidity and soft tannins). I would say that this wine shows more the sandy character of the soil.
Rating: without decanting. Without decanting this wine is off-dry with softer tannins, acidity driven, showing ripe purple and black fruits and pepperiness.
I should mention that all 3 wines had alcohol levels between 14.5 – 14.9%, which is quite high considering one characteristic of the grape clone is medium alcohol levels.