Writer and wine columnist John Schreiner is Canada's most prolific author of books on wine.
Friday, March 12, 2021
Hurrah for Rust's Syrah
Photo: Rust Winery
When Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery two years ago rejuvenated the former Rustico winery as Rust Wine Co., the strategy of focussing on single vineyard wines was adopted to distinguish Rust’s wines from Mt. Boucherie’s portfolio.
These three Syrahs demonstrate that strategy superbly. Each is made with grapes from a different vineyard. Comparing them is an excellent illustration of terroir, and how much it changes from one site to another.
I rarely taste a Syrah that I find unappealing. It is one of British Columbia’s signature table wines. The grape produces delicious reds from vineyards in the South Okanagan, the Similkameen and the Naramata Bench. There are some surprising Syrah blocks elsewhere as well, such as the one Quails’ Gate has in its West Kelowna vineyard.
Rust’s winemaker, Ryan DeWitte, who came to the Okanagan from Ontario, has several great vineyards to work with.
The winery takes its name from the steel siding on its building. This is a special steel, designed to develop an attractive patina of rust. The wine labels also simulate rust. All this helps this south Okanagan winery’s brand to stand out.
Two of the Syrahs in the current release are made with grapes from the south Okanagan – but opposite sides of the valley and from different soils. Both vineyards are south of Oliver.
One Syrah is from the South Rock Vineyard, the estate vineyard, is on the Golden Mile Bench. This is the west side of the valley where the soil is an alluvial fan of gravelly soil and eroded mountain rock.
A second Syrah is made with grapes from the Ferreira Vineyard. This property is on the eastern side of the valley on a plateau at the northern end of Black Sage Road, overlooking Oliver. The soils are volcanic ash mixed with fine granitic sand.
The third Syrah is from the Lazy River Vineyard in the Similkameen Valley, south of Cawston. The soil is a sandy clay loam with limestone and granitic rock.
Rust Syrah 2018 South Rock Vineyard Golden Mile Bench ($44 for 362 cases). This wine was aged 16 months in American and French oak barrels (27% new). It begins with aromas of plum, cherry and spice mingled lightly with pepper. The palate echoes the aromas and delivers bold fruit flavours so intense as to seem almost sweet. The long ripe tannins give the wine a generous texture and long finish. 93.
Rust Syrah 2018 Ferreira Vineyard Okanagan Valley ($44 for 337 cases). This wine was aged 16 months in American and French oak (27% new). It begins with aromas of black pepper and dark fruits. The palate also delivers notes of black pepper mingled with figs, black olives and cherries. The tannins are firm. 92.
Rust Syrah 2018 Lazy River Vineyard Similkameen Valley ($44 for 430 cases). This wine was aged 16 months in American and French oak (27% new). It begins with aromas of cherry, raspberry and sage. On the palate, there is bright red fruit with notes of spice and white pepper. The ripe tannins give the wine an elegantly polished texture. 93.