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We had some friends up to our cottage for the weekend and I smoked a Santa Maria style tri tip for dinner on Saturday night with sides of grilled asparagus (which is in season) and a camembert gratin (which was awesome considering my wife made these off the cuff without a recipe). We decided to pair the tri tip with syrah which we thought would stand up to the rub on the meat. Thought the pairing worked very well. Here are my notes:

1999 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie (5/18/2013)
Opened by Mark. 2nd time I have had this wine with similar notes. 1999 was a classic vintage in the Northern Rhone. Smooth texture and well balanced. Currant, herbs and wet earth notes. Moderate tannins. Drinking well. I've had 4 different vintages of this wine (1985,1995 and 1998 were the others) and this has been my favorite. 92-93 points

2005 Domaine Vallet St. Joseph - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, St. Joseph (5/18/2013)
2nd time I have had this. Better than the last bottle. No funk this time around. Notes of bacon fat, dark fruit with pepper on the finish. Typical N. Rhone profile. 91-92 points

2007 Cayuse Syrah Armada Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley (5/18/2013)
The first wine I have had from this estate. Blackish red. Burnt favors. Thick texture. Full bodied. Cassis, tar and blackberry notes. A little too heavy and over the top for me but still very good. This might have overpowered lighter foods but the smoked Santa Maria style tri tip we paired it with stood up to the wine. Not sure how this will change with aging. Tried some on day 2 and it was still a bruiser. 90+ points.

2009 Stefania Syrah Split Rail Santa Cruz Mountains - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains (5/18/2013)
Dark purple color. Relatively smooth and integrated for being so young but still very fruity. This had a youthful exuberance. Notes of red berries and some smoke. A little tart on the finish. 89 points

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