When I talk about this wine, I am supposed to put the winery name in all caps. SYZYGY. So there. It looks extra emphatic in bold.
It is harder to find a science-y wine in Fred Meyer than in Fremont, and harder in Fremont than it is in Kirkland, which shouldn't surprise me as much as it did. Of all the bottles I investigated, this was the only properly scientific-looking one, a dashing blue and orange label (here hot off the press) with a properly space-age sans serif font. The term 'syzygy' refers to the moment when three celestial bodies in the same gravitational system -- say, Earth, the moon, and the sun -- are in perfect alignment. (Among other things.) Supposedly this is when the winery harvests their cabernet sauvignon grapes, at a moment of eclipse in 2005. I mentioned this to friend Ray, who was properly (scientifically) sceptical: "It takes longer than the length of an eclipse to bring in a harvest." Nevertheless, the label pleases me, although it is less friendly than Educated Guess.
The new Cab Sauv is due out at the start of may -- the bottle I take home is a full, unblended Syrah from the -- say it with me now -- SYZYGY winery in Walla Walla. I spent my four undergraduate years in Walla Walla, and Syrah was one of the first reds I was exposed to, so I was hoping for something particularly special from this bottle of wine. It was pretty good -- rich, and full, and warming -- but it wasn't anything particularly stunning. Maybe I'll keep an eye out for the cabernet sauvignon in a month.
Syrah's history in the United States, interestingly, involves a group called the Rhone Rangers. They were initially formed in the 1980s, disbanded in the early 1990s, and revived before the end of the prior millennium. The entire purpose of this group appears to be the promotion of and education about the Rhone varietals in America, which includes links to various articles on same from around the country -- including this Australian article detailing how the source of Shiraz' peppery tone had been located by a group of Australian scientists. Considering this and the recent efforts to lock down varietal relationships with DNA tests in oenology labs around the world, a clear tension between Old World terroir-centered methods and New World science-tested methods begins to emerge.