San Diego Wines: Orfila Syrah Estate Ambassador’s Reserve 2008

Right out of the bottle, the nose shows black plum melding sinuously with high-toast oak and hints of tobacco—a lovely first impression. With some aeration, the fruit becomes more dominant with subtle chocolate and vanilla undertones. Powerful, yet polished, the well conceived use of oak to set off the fruit is the highlight of this wine. The mildly peppery palate with clean crisp berry flavors is satisfying, but the finish comes on quickly with substantial tannins subtracting some interest and length from the mid-palate. The tannins are fine-grained and not at all grippy but they are a bit too assertive at this point muting the fruit on the finish. A couple years in the cellar (or a well-marbled steak) will resolve this. (This bottle was opened in February 2012) Despite the 15.3% alcohol, there is no trace of bitterness or excessive heat. Well-balanced with plenty of structure, this is an exceedingly well-made wine and a great value at $32.

Orfila continues to impress with their Syrahs

Good: Aromas and structure

Bad: Mid-palate length is interrupted by assertive tannins

Distinctive: Seamless synthesis of fruit and oak

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