Posted on 13 March 2008.
Ray Sandidge is one of the most under-rated winemakers in the state of Washington. He has a pedigree most of his peers would love to have, including training in the old-world. His passion and knowledge of winemaking is very thorough.
He was the former winemaker for Kestrel and Apex Cellars where he had no problems helping each of those wineries wine a plethora of awards.
A number of years ago, Ray ventured out to start his own label called C.R. Sandidge Wines (Charles Ray Sandidge) in Chelan Washington and hasn’t looked back. His wines at Kestrel were among the first “big guns” that got myself and some friends really hooked into wine and we adopted our own little “Cult-like” following of his work.
Not too long ago, I met up with him at a wine pouring at Des Moines Corkscrew Cellars (home of one of the first “ghetto glasses” I ran across) and had him sign one of the bottles. In case you’re wondering why he signed it the way he did was because when I first met his wife, Kristina, I told him to tell Ray that me and my buddy were “not worthy” (think of the movie Wayne’s World when they met Alice Cooper).
I bought this bottle back in 2004 and have been laying it down for awhile now – after talking to the winery about their early use of synthetic corks, I decided it was time to give it a go-around.
Winemaker: Ray Sandidge (yoda)
Production: 465 Cases
APPEARANCE: Very typical of a well-made Syrah with extremely deep purples which look very cool when being swirled around in the glass. One thing you’ll notice is that Ray is not at all a believer in filtering his wines so there’s always a ton of sediment (goodness) in the bottle and sometimes in your glass.
SMELL: Here are a few of the smells I got: Smokey bacon fat, plums, black dirt, Rose pedals, gooseberry, blackberry, bitter chocolate and licorice.
TASTE: A good balance of old-world vegetal action like green asparagus, bell pepper, dirt and earthiness. Top on the huge dark plums, dried cranberries, licorice and a slight taste of home-made apple pie (I know, it’s weird – don’t ask).
MOUTH FEEL: My main complaint with this wine is that the finish is very weak – it’s crackin’ very nicely through the front and mid palate region but the finish peter’s out faster than Michael Moore running for a Big Mac.
FOOD: Would go good with the following:
– Any kind of good cut of grilled or bbq’d Steak
– BBQ Ribs
– Marinated, grilled Shish Ka Bobs
OVERALL: I can really appreciate the old-world effort Ray put into this bottle and to be honest, it was a bit better with food; however, it still wouldn’t be my first choice if I were to go buy a Syrah right now.
I have yet to try some of Ray’s newer vintages of the Minick Syrah and look forward to doing so; if I can find any. Old-world fans should really try this wine out if you can find it (only 465 cases made) because it’s a good example of what Washington Syrah’s can taste like when they’re not fashioned to be new-world fruit/pepper bombs.
W.E.P. Scale Rating: 70%