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2004 Steele Lake County Syrah


Comingoff of a wine trip, pulling the cork on your next bottle at home isn’tsomething to take lightly. I didn’twant to pull the cork on a clunker as I eased back into normal quaffing thatmixes in the inexpensive everyday stuff.  It is a departure from a couple of the $40+ bottles that found their way inside my heart and my wallet while in PasoRobles.

Ichose the 2004 Steele Lake County Syrah. Steele has a reputation for doing quality at affordable pricepoints. I picked this one up at a localwine shop when I was trying to coordinate the Stormhoek wine tasting. I think I paid around $22.

Itended up being an inspiring choice. Iended up reading in bed for 20 minutes longer just to finish the glass.  And, I crept  downstairs to make sure  I gave it an extra pump or two on the Vacu-Vin to make sure it stayed with me til I could reach the end of the bottle.

And,you gotta love a winery that has the following quote on their web site:

“Twothings that most readily fire the imagination: making love and drinking wine.”

Thisis an excellent, well-crafted wine. Thecolor is a deep ruby shading to purple and concentrated. The finish is longer then the finale of the1812 Overture and, to my palate, had notes of cotton candy—in a pleasurable wayand none of the white pepper that is characteristic of the varietal. And thenose was pure fruit—blueberries, black raspberries and caramel. Well balanced, this is a wine that I willbuy again (and again).

 I read the S.F. Chronicle’ Thursday wine articles andcoincidentally, they had a feature on Lake County, the source of the grapes forthe Syrah and the location of the Steele Winery.  Mountainous with rugged terrain, the Lake County region is noted for offering a geographical challenge to winemakers.

Thearticle noted:

Despitea long history of growing grapes, Lake County’s modern wine industry is stillin its infancy, with only 14 wineries—11 with tasting rooms. A mere fiveyears ago, there were only four wineries. Industry giant Kendall-Jacksonstarted its business here in 1982 with the persevering talent of Jed Steele,the winemaker who helped create Kendall-Jackson’s successful style of Chardonnay.Steele left Kendall-Jackson to make his own wine in 1991 and opened hisKelseyville winery in 1996. Now, the iconoclastic Steele’s winery is theunofficial first stop for new arrivals looking to make stellar wine in thecounty.

Youcan find another article from Touring & Tasting magazine here.

Idid a spot check at a couple of stores in the Indianapolis market and the Syrahis not carried, and information is scant on the information as well. Jed Steele prides himself on being boutique,so you may have to hunt for this one, but if you find it, I think it’s wellworth the money!


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On 07/24, John Ferringer wrote:

My wife and I discovered Steele for the first time at St. Elmo’s in Indianapolis; we had an excellent Zinfandel.  We’ve travelled to Mendocino several times and were a little surprised to find a wine from the area that was new to us.  Since then we’ve also tried Steele’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.  They’ve all been excellent, and we hope to visit the winery the next time we travel to the area.


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