Twisted Oak Tanner Vineyard Syrah 2002

twisted_tanner_syrahLast night we opened a bottle of what turned out to be a very special wine. Pulling the cork of the 2002 Twisted Oak Tanner Syrah released a genie comprised of fresh raspberries and gobs of blackberry jam. In fact, the cork was not even completely out of the bottle before the air became filled with mouth watering fruit.

Twisted Oak Winery is located in Calaveras County, California, and as is fitting for a location made famous by one of America’s greatest humorists combines a lot of fun with their seriously tasty wine. The back of the Tanner Syrah has the following description:

You’re about to meet the Tanner Syrah. It is, as you will perceive, a big wine. A wine that attacks your senses with blackberries and then torpedos your mouth with plums and clove spices. But very soon, this wold-be Admiral of the fleet will embark on another kind of voyage. A strangely uncharted and Twisting course that is plotted for a distant port known only as…

Um, yeah, right. It is certainly a big wine, and a wonderful example of what a California Syrah can be. This wine is made with 100% Syrah grapes grown by the Tanner family. It spends 20 months in a variety of oak barrels before being bottled. It is unfiltered and unfined. This wine has the alcohol (14.5%) and tannic structure to allow it to age nicely, but good luck not drinking it all right now.

El Jefe, owner and wine maker, with his rubber chicken friend.
El Jefe, owner and wine maker, with his rubber chicken friend.

We first tasted Twisted Oak wines at the Wine Blogger Conference last October. We really loved it and Amy asked one of the Twisted wine makers, known as El Jefe, where in Houston their wines could be found. Austin seemed to be the best answer available, and as we were all having a few sips at the time, pointing out that Austin is not in Houston seemed irrelevant. However, once we were back in Texas and wanted to get some it definitely increased in importance. Amy searched high and low, but eventually broke our vow to not join any more wine clubs so that we could get our hands on some of their wonderfully twisted wines (and a rubber chicken).

In the glass the Tanner Vineyard Syrah is an inky, deep purple color that barely lightens around the edges. A swirl sparkled in the light and let the impenetrable purple become a rich garnet as it rode the edges of the glass. The aroma of jammy blackberries, plums, toasty oak and hint of cedar came out of the glass in waves. It was not even neccesary to get my nose into the glass as the whole room was being perfumed, but I did anyway. I was rewarded with even more intense versions of those aromas. This is one of those wines where the nose is intriguing enough that the first taste gets delayed because you just want one more sniff first.

Eventually you will get around to tasting it, and what a taste it is. Ripe, tangy, slightly sweet blackberry and raspberry fruit explode in your mouth with a little bit of blueberry and juicy plum. The huge fruit is then joined by some toasty, mocha and vanilla notes. All of these delicious flavors travel on into the finish, and what a finish it is. I am writing this the next morning and, maybe I’m just imagining things, but I think that it may still be going on. I am afraid to eat breakfast because it might interrupt it.

In addition to making fantastic wines, Twisted Oak is very good at harnessing the power of social networking and the new media. They make great use of online tools such as Twitter, not to mention operating an excellent blog. Twisted Oak Winery truly gets it on so many levels. When I receive a box from our newest wine club, I will be truly glad to get it myself.

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