I was able to taste three separate samples destined for the 2010 Donelan Syrah Cuvée Christine and all rated between 92 and 94 points. Fermented with 30% whole cluster, the samples were slightly reticent and closed on the nose, with deep black and blue fruits, lavender, meat, and spice characteristics, a medium to full-bodied, textured mouth feel, and solid concentration and depth. Give bottles 2-3 years in the cellar and then enjoy over the following decade.
Plum, licorice and violet notes flesh out in the 2010 Syrah Cuvée Christine. Wonderfully dark and mysterious, the 2010 possesses remarkable depth and intensity, all in a virile, masculine style that stands in stark contrast to the far more approachable 2011. With air the 2010 can be enjoyed today, but it has more than enough density and power to drink well for a number of years. Next to the 2010 Walker Vine Hill, the Cuvée Christine is a bit more silky in its mouthfeel. The 2010 has blossomed beautifully over the last few years. In this vintage, the Cuvée Christine spent 18 months in barrel, 30% new. (AG)
The 2010 Syrah Cuvée Christine could easily pass for a California version of a Northern Rhône Hermitage. Its black/purple color is accompanied by notes of camphor, graphite, creme de cassis and acacia flowers. The wine is super-rich, intense and full-bodied with good underlying minerality as well as loads of fruit and glycerin as well as a powerful, long finish with sweet tannin. It should drink well for a decade or more. This is one of the most impressive Rhône Ranger winemaking estates in California. They have also expanded their portfolio to make small quantities of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. For me, the real glories of Donelan Family Wines are their Syrahs. As the tasting notes suggest, 2011 turned out well here despite the challenges. However, if you can still track down a bottle or two of the 2009s and 2010s, you are in for something very special. (RP)
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