Andrew Murray is a fascinating man. Once the Doogie Howser of wine, he made his first wine as a teenager and was given the reins to his parents’ winery when barely out of his teens. After massive critical acclaim before he turned 25, Andrew then received an out-of-left-field, fictional bad review (possibly the only “bad review” in his career) in the movie Sideways when he was 33. We hope we were convincing when we previously defended Merlot by pointing out the silliness of taking drinking advice from a fictional character who drinks from a spit bucket, but the Sideways character we must joust with this time is Maya, who says of a bottle of Andrew Murray Roasted Slope Syrah, “I think they overdid it. Too much alcohol masks the fruit.” According to Andrew Murray, the production company shot many scenes at the winery, became friends with Andrew and the winery staff and slipped the Andrew Murray wine into the movie, despite a different wine being in the scene in the book, in order to give the winery exposure, albeit backhanded. Ironically, Andrew was a spokesperson for the movement to rein in the ever higher alcohol levels that were garnering big scores–and therefore sales–in the early 2000s and this 2021 version of the wine, while not as lean as an actual Côte-Rôtie (which translates to ‘roasted slope’ in english and is a vaunted appellation in the northern Rhône Valley), the alcohol level is balanced with the acidity and tannins and the Syrah character of the fruit is on full display. Andrew also worked in Australia (his first wine) and therefore knows more than a thing or two about bigger, new world-style Syrah. Indeed, the grape is Andrew’s lifelong passion and he truly loves all of its expressions, so he doesn’t try to shoehorn the produce of a vineyard into a predetermined stylistic box. This wine, more than 10 degrees of latitude further south than Cote Rotie, therefore, tastes like a new-world Syrah, with more ripeness and alcohol, because one loses varietal character both by picking too late or picking too early. So why use a reference to an old world appellation to name this new world style wine? Because a nursery mistake when planting an early vineyard resulted in an accidental co-planting of Viognier and Syrah, coincidentally the blend used in Côte-Rôtie, so Andrew has been using the Roasted Slope name when making a wine of co-fermented Syrah and Viognier ever since. Blackberry and blueberry fruit abounds with hints of pepper, blood orange, violets, star anise and caramelized meat. Subtle use of oak imparts an unobtrusive touch of vanilla and cacao as well, but the certified sustainably farmed fruit is the star and would pair well with any grilled meats. This is a young wine, so give in an hour or two of decanting to let the nuances come out.