The lone Rhone in the Canadian wine profile seems to be Syrah, and yet this is the first grape planted to the Desert Hills Estate Three Boys Vineyard along the Black Sage Bench. Here, due to glacial retreat, the land is made up of gravelly limestone soils — perfect for a grape that enjoys a bit of forced rigor, like Syrah. The Toor family purchased their Three Boys Vineyard back in 1988, planted their first grapes in 1994, and is today the 25-acre home vineyard site for Desert Hills. 

About the Wine: The Desert Hills 2012 Syrah is made of 100% Syrah grapes harvested from the Desert Hills estate vineyard, Three Boys Vineyard, located along the Black Sage Bench of BC’s Okanagan Valley. The grapes were hand harvested, hand sorted, the whole berries — with stem inclusion — were cold soaked for five days prior to undergoing fermentation in tank.

14.3%

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork of the Desert Hills 2012 Syrah and breathe in dark, jammy berries; cedar wood; and damp soil. On the pour this Syrah is just as royal red-velvet as you’d like, with the light just shimmering right off of its thick coat. In the glass, the wine is dark, brooding, mysterious. It’s impenetrable at its very center with a red-meets-black hue, softening to a slightly pinker perimeter — though no less mysterious.

Initial aromas are absolutely cologne-like — as if fragrant flowers collided fresh cut tree bark. Take a deeper breath in, close your eyes, and you’ll find there’s a hint of greenery in there somewhere. So swirl, and bring to life some fruits: black plums, black cherries, blackberries — all attached to a thorny, brambly, branchy bush. And, yes, there are hints of green herbs (perhaps mint) and a solid line of acidity riding right through the center.

On the palate: smoke — like the ash from a smoldering campfire lies in the forefront of this hearty Syrah. Indeed, this is a medium-full to full red wine whose textural tannins speak of ash. There is, however, a solid line of acidity that keeps the fruits in play — black plums, figs, though the berries sensed on the nose seem to have disappeared. The finish is solid, textural, with an after breath of singed green leaves.

Food Pairing: I paired the Desert Hills 2012 Syrah with grilled filet mignon, slow roasted heirloom potatoes, and a side salad of arugula, blueberries, and blue cheese. Perfect pairing full stop.

Of course the smokey char on the filet mignon paired with the smokey elements in the wine, but the juices from the medium-rare cook is what truly enhanced the somewhat animalistic nature that’s so innate in Syrah. Savory, succulent, savage. The potatoes were cooked to pillowy perfection, providing relief from the tannins, smoothing out the texture of the wine, providing a round mouthfeel. The salad worked with the fruit notes and acidity level in the wine — and who doesn’t love a stinky cheese with a rustic red?

More Info: I received the Desert Hills 2012 Syrah as a sample for review. (Cheers Kristof!) For more information about Desert Hills, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Desert Hills Estate Winery website.


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