The Wine Guy: An ultra-boutique Syrah | May 9, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - May 9, 2008

The Wine Guy: An ultra-boutique Syrah

by Gregory Peebles

2005 Marilyn Remark Syrah

Arroyo Loma Vineyard, Monterey

Marilyn Remark Winery, $35

For nearly 12 months I've had the fun and privilege of reviewing wines for residents of the greater Danville community via Danville Weekly. As you may have determined by now, my column's premise is to focus solely on wines found in local wine shops. However, for this one review I am making an exception since this outstanding, ultra-boutique Syrah is not found anywhere in the Tri-Valley area, according to It's a single vineyard beauty surely deserving your attention.

On a recent business and family excursion to the Monterey Peninsula, I had the good fortune to visit Marilyn Remark Winery in Salinas. With a small metal barn and adjacent crush pad accounting for the entire operation (including a humble tasting "room"), it's a little winemaking oasis on River Road surrounded by lettuce fields, cow pastures and horse ranches. This is where Joel Burnstein is working diligently to transform a couple's dream into reality.

The Pacific Stock Exchange trader-turned-winemaker along with life and business partner, Marilyn Remark, specializes in varietals native to France's Rhône Valley. A "magical" trip to the Rhône in 2001 provided an epiphany and the inspiration for both Joel and Marilyn to return home and pursue their passion. Fulfilling a dream, especially in luxury-tier winemaking, requires long hours and single-minded dedication.

Joel contracts long-term for the best possible grapes, ferments and ages in small lots that permit the unique varietal character and Monterey terrior to show themselves. In addition to her partnership in the winery, Marilyn also has a very gratifying, full-time career as a Social Work Supervisor.

Here are my tasting notes:

* Color: Pure red, ruby and crimson. Medium-to-deep intensity.

* Nose: Assertive, extremely ripe. Thick, multi-layered perfume of smoked meat, white pepper, wildflower, sweet oak and cranberry.

* Palate: Weighty, yet nimble. Moves across the palate adeptly with bright, lively notes of red raspberry, loganberry, tart strawberry, red cassis and plum. Cured meatiness in the background. Lands heavily, then fleshy lushness takes over.

* Finish: Candied cherry and plum. Invigorating and very fresh. Long, round and tannic.

Production of the '05 Arroyo Loma Vineyard Syrah is microscopic: 177 cases. Should you wish to give this wine a swirl, shop online at or call (831) 455-9310.

Joel's food pairing suggestion is quite simple: lamb, prepared any way you wish. Who would know better than the winemaker?

Thank you and let your palate be the judge ...

Have comments or questions about wine? Gregory Peebles, wine industry professional and East Bay resident, can be contacted at


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