While the first wine I looked at from Renard was Grenache, their calling card is Syrah. They make some other Rhone varietals as well. They source their Syrah from several sources. The two wines I'm going to look at today are consecutive vintages they source at Unti Vineyard. In addition to being a grower, Unti is also a producer of fine Dry Creek Valley wines. The 2003 Renard, Unti Vineyard Syrah is their current release of this offering. 157 cases of this wine were produced in addition to 100 cases of ½ size bottles. The respective retail prices are $25 and $14.
I found that an hour in the decanter was the right amount of time for the 2003 Syrah to really open up and express itself. Once it was open aromas of blueberry, leather, tobacco and light anise filled the nose. A solid core of rich berry fruit is persistent throughout the palate along with nutmeg and white pepper spice notes. Sour black cherry, notes lead the finish followed by earth, bramble, black pepper and classic elements of Dry Creek dust.
The 2002 Renard Syrah I tasted was from half bottles. Just something to note as wine tends to age a bit differently depending on the bottle size. I found the 2002 was pretty much ready to go out of the bottle. It opened up a bit more over time but not as dramatically as the 2003. Candied plum, cedar, violets and anise were present in the nose. The palate was loaded with crushed cherry and to a lesser degree leather characteristics. The nose of the 2002 speaks a bit more of new world Syrah than the 2003, however the palate is definitely old world. Blueberries and licorice notes are present in the mid-palate leading to a finish of prominent earth, mineral and black pepper. The 2002 is perfectly ready to drink now.
What I like best about the Renard Syrahs is that they are both well balanced offering featuring fine acidity and a solid core of rich fruit. As with the Grenache they're perfectly suited for a wide array of foods. While Renard is a smaller producer you won't necessarily find on your local shelf, they are well worth seeking out if you like well crafted Rhone varietals. These 2 consecutive vintages are a good example of the consistency of their offerings.
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