Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2007 McManis Family Vineyards Syrah

Straightforward California Syrah.

McManis Family Vineyards sits comfortably among the ranks of a small handful of wineries consistently making quality wine with mass appeal and selling it at a reasonable price.  Scratch that - at a bargain. 

In fact, McManis has held almost all their prices steady for the last eight vintages.

Since coming to the market in the late nineties, McManis has been delivering value hit after hit.  Whether Chardonnays, Viogniers, Pinots, or others, this family-run winery eighty miles east of San Francisco can't seem to make a bad wine.

And so it is this track record of values that brought us to revisit their current line up, starting with the 2007 Syrah.

While it doesn't ooze varietal characteristics, this wine isn't flabby the way many less expensive Syrahs can be.  Oak and tannins give it structure without being obtrusive.  Very drinkable, it's got enough body to hold up grilled meat.  And at $10, it's a deal

Yet another in McManis' long line of solid values.

According to Tary Salinger, head of Sales and Marketing, the winery does a fair bit of their own farming, but also purchases additional fruit from select growers in nearby, as well in the Lodi area.  For the last three vintages they have produced around 12,000 cases of the Syrah.  Despite their rapid growth, they still make all their wine under one roof - their own.

The only unfortunate thing is that McManis doesn't reach a little higher.  Bogle and Gallo, both of which have similar mainstay lines of similarly reliable wines, also offer wines at a notch higher

What might loftier aspirations yield at McManis?  We'd love to find out.

When we made this point to Tary, he replied, "We have considered producing another quality level of wine. We first attempted to produce a high end Petit Verdot a few years ago (the same year we produced our first Petite Sirah), but found that, although the wine was exceptional, it did not stand out that much when compared with our other wines.  In fact, the Petite Sirah ended up edging our "high end" wine in a blind tasting."

In that case, you can expect to see a review of the Petite Sirah in the near future.  We paid $9.99 for this bottle of Syrah and have seen it priced from $8.49 to $12.99 elsewhere.

Afterthought: Two days after opening (and being left at room temp) we revisited this wine.  Hello! Much of the boldness was still there, but the stronger oak and tannic components had softened, exposing balance and smoothness not previously there.  This type of evolution suggest age-worthiness, not something we'd expect from a wine of this pedigree or price point.  Upgraded to four stars.

Rating: Food friendly and conversation friendly.  Nothing complex, but well ahead of the pack at this price point.  Good to have on hand for the holidays - and worth stashing some bottles to try in a few years.



In response to this review, Tary replied:
Thanks so much for the great write up. You hit our nail on the head with respect to our goals...

Tary

We call it like we see it, Tary.  No bullshit.