Thus far I’ve reviewed every wine The Withers has to offer, but saved Mr. Burgess for last. Why? Syrah heavy, it was probably the most intimidating of the Rhone style red blends the friendly winery produces. And a tasting back in January at trade and media event seemed to prove my perceptions correct. So I was hesitant to finally pop Mr. Burgess open for myself — but when a meal is just aching for the intensity of this style, one must cast fears aside…

About the Wine: The The Withers 2014 Mr. Burgess Rhone Red Blend is made from 85% Syrah 12% Mourvedre 3% Grenache all sourced from California’s El Dorado County.

13.6% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the The Withers 2014 Mr. Burgess Rhone Red Blend and breathe in strong aromas of black cherry compote, medium-rare meat juices, chocolate, mud, and herbs. On the pour, this Rhone blend is the shade of a purple rust — light and see through, but definitely purple and definitely rusty. In the glass the wine emits a hint more red for more of a maroon color. Though the center “wants” to be dark, it isn’t opaque; the outer-most edge of the wine shifts to a pink-maroon color.

Initial aromas are of black cherries hanging on brambly branches, dark tree bark, a hint of cocoa dust, and a bit of meatiness. Swirl and find more fruits, like blackberries — they, too, are hanging rustically on their bush. Deep breath in and find some floral aromas as well as more of that bitter cacao scent.

The palate is a solid medium with a good dose of acidity that hits immediately and hangs tight throughout. The tannins are there but simply provide the outline and the backbone of the tasting. That is, until the very end, when they just gently coat the teeth. Dominant flavors are of fresh cedar wood, licorice, dark chocolate, macerated black cherry, damp fertile soil, saw dust, and reduced balsamic. The finish is a soft dryness with lingering flavors of cherry cordial and dark chocolate.

Food Pairing: I paired the The Withers 2014 Mr. Burgess Rhone Red Blend with an herb crusted lamb rack alongside a roasted red beet root salad garnished with goats cheese, pistachios, dried cranberries, and dressed in a balsamic glaze.

A classic dish to pair with a Syrah-dominant wine. The herb crust highlighted the brighter notes in the wine, while the medium-rare meat provided a rounder, fuller, more voluptuous mouthfeel that gave the texture more continuity than when sipping on its own. Meanwhile the “sweetness” of the beetroot and balsamic brought out a bit of earthy-sweet notes to the wine. And a bit of everything together with a sip of wine — perfection.

More Info: I received the The Withers 2014 Mr. Burgess Rhone Red Blend as a sample for review. (Cheers Andrew!) Retail: $43.95. For more information about The Withers, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit The Withers Winery website.

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