The recent demise of Wine Rack deprived me of this wine for months. Originally bought on the basis of a personal recommendation from an employee of my ex-local Wine Rack, it has since become one of my favourites. I struggled to find any stockists of it for the better part of a year and just as I was getting down to my last few bottles I stumbled across it purely by chance in the most unlikliest of places – the Co-Op. Yes, I can feel you wine snobs out there turning your noses up but the simple fact of the matter is sometimes little diamonds can be found in amongst lumps of coal…feel free to draw what you want from that analogy!
Every person to a man (and woman) that I have introduced to this wine has been blown away by it. At a recent family gathering – my family are above average consumers of red wine who know the difference between class and dross generally – I opened a bottle of this and a bottle of £20 Otago Pinot Noir. The Pinot remained untouched apart from a glass or two while the bottles of Eos just kept getting opened and consumed liberally. Hence the need to find some more…!
So what makes this wine so good? Well, the grape variety, Petite Sirah, is not well-known and is a pretty unusual variety in itself. Also known as Durif, the grape originates from Montpellier in France and is named after Francois Durif, a botanist at the University of Montpellier. Actually a cross between the Syrah grape and little-known Peloursin, it is almost non-existent now in France and has found a new home in California, Australia (who are the world’s leading producers) and Israel. It tends to produce tannic wines with a spicy, plummy flavour and is often used in the blending process to strengthen wine from other varietals, particularly in years with high rainfall.
Eos Estate Winery opened in 1985 and was originally owned by the Arciero family who originate from Italy. In fact the winery is modelled on the Monastery of Monte Cassino, the Arciero’s hometown. Situated in Paso Robles, the winery changed hands in 2010 but is still privately owned and run. Paso Robles is famous for its thermal hot springs but is now claiming a reputation for the number of high quality wines coming out of the area. Grapes were first introduced in the late 1700’s by Spanish Conquistadors and Franciscan missionaries but commercial wine making only really got off the ground in the late 1800’s.
The wine is an unusual dark-purple colour in the glass, unlike any other wine. After swirling, the glass actually looks like it has been stained by the wine and this accentuates the uniqueness and depth of the colour. On the nose it is full of jammy blueberry fruit with hints of liquorice, smoke and leather. On the palate the wine is super-rich and velvety in texture and bursting with fruit – initially raspberry followed by jammy, stewed blueberry almost to the point of being cassis. The finish is long and full with a slightly bitter dark chocolate and tar edge to it.
This wine has the balls to stand up to just about any food pairing but it goes well with red meat and game cooked in rich, thick sauces. It is also a good match for duck and roasted lamb and strongly flavoured cheeses.
I give this wine 95 out of 100 and it is seriously one of the best I’ve ever tasted, not just because it is so pleasing to drink but also because it is very unique in colour, smell and flavour.
I bought this from my local Co-Op at £9.99 a bottle (good value for Californian wine) but I am not sure if they still stock it and if they do, in what branches.