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A Synaptic Journey

26 October 2011

After visiting some wineries in California’s Amador County, we headed to the town of Placerville to dine at Z-Pie, dedicated to serving creative pot pies. But before we dug into our pots of golden, flaky goodness, I spied a wine bar/shop which offered inexpensive tastings. It turned out to belong to a local winery called Synapse.

In their chic tasting room, samples aren’t complimentary as they are in the other wineries we visited, but the fee is waived if you purchase a bottle or two. I liked the look of the place, and I had yet to try a local Syrah, a varietal appearing several times on the menu.

I picked the oldest of the lot, a 2005 Synapse Syrah ($18). This wine, unlike many I had tasted earlier in the day, actually took me on a journey. A cherry, almost Robitussin-like aroma gave way to flavors of black pepper, some tangy fruit and pleasant finish of vanilla. I made my first purchase of the day.

On a whim, I tried the 2010 Synapse Rosé Noir ($17), a rosé made from local Syrah. Surprised by the wine’s very deep pinkish purple hue, I exclaimed, “Wow, that’s really dark for a rosé.”

“Oh yes,” the Synapse representative replied. “You know, last year’s was actually even darker, because we were all watching a football game. We got really into it and forgot about the rosé, and left it on the [grape] skins longer than planned.”

I had a feeling this would be my kind of rosé.

It tasted lush, fun and fruity, but the journey continued with some spice, expanding at the back of the palate for a memorable finish. I made my second purchase of the day.

We walked over to Z-Pie for dinner, where I was delighted to see a Synapse wine on the by-the-glass menu: a 2010 Synapse Symphony. Since this variety is a cross between Grenache Gris and Muscat, I suspected it would pair well with my Thai-style pot pie. With aromas of tropical fruit and flavors of pear, pineapple and honeysuckle, this wine was a perfect match. It started sweet, but the finish was spicy and dry — a delight ($20 per bottle).

To top it off, Synapse has fantastic art on its labels. These are wines worth seeking out — Illinois residents can order from the Synapse website.

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