Today was gorgeous and warm again so we went for a hike at the end of the day with our friend Andrew. The views of the Channel Islands were clear and beautiful. After the hike we grilled teriyaki chicken & vegetable kebabs and roasted some potatoes. Naturally our conversation turned to wine. Andrew made a comment about Syrah being “okay” and went on to say that he’d never had one that really ‘zinged’ him. I took this as a personal challenge; the gauntlet was thrown! I opened two different Syrahs. The first one the 2004 Skyhawk Lane Syrah (San Luis Obispo County, Alamo Creek Vineyards) is a big, intense Syrah with jammy fruit flavors with a nice long finish. Next, we opened a 2003 Ethan Syrah (Santa Ynez Valley, Purisima Mountain Vineyard). This wine is like a velvet hammer – beautifully smooth on the palate, heavy with condensed blackberry, cassis and white pepper flavors with a satisfying, long finish. We had bottle number 1357 of 3575…it was the second to the last bottle we have left. I will be sad to see the last one go, because it is drinking so well right now. Maybe I can talk Ethan into finding a few more bottles for me in his cellar? I hope so. Ethan’s father is award winning winemaker Robert Lindquist, of Qupé. I can assure you, the apple doesn’t fall far from the proverbial tree in that family. As far as our little Syrah Challenge, the wines definitely ‘zinged’ Andrew. He said, “Wow, I didn’t know Syrah could taste so good.” I love a good challenge.