By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

Damiani_08syrahThe differences between this Finger Lakes syrah and the one I reviewed a couple weeks ago might be the simple result of vintage variation — 2007 was far hotter than 2008. Not that this wine is completely underripe, mind you. It's just not as ripe as the 2007.

It has some nice qualities, but it isn't going to convince anyone that syrah is anything more than a bit player in the region.

Black pepper dominates the nose, with spicy, earthy notes over top of restrained black cherry and blueberry fruit. After being open for a day, there were some lightly floral aromas as well.

Medium bodied, the palate shows more black pepper over dark fruit with subtle vanilla and oak on the mid-palate before finishing dry with an earthy, slightly stemmy bitterness on the finish.

The tannins are medium-light, but good acidity brings structure and balance.

At $40 this isn't cheap, but only 21 cases were made, the winery's first trial with syrah. They plan to expand production in 2009 and plant more syrah as well.

Producer: Damiani Wine Cellars
AVA: Finger Lakes
ABV: 13.1%

Production: 21 cases

Price: $40*
Rating:    25 (2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)

(*Ratings Guide)