A couple of weekends ago, the hubby and I finally had the pleasure of tasting some of the much lauded Walter Dacon Wines. Part of the fun of tasting these Washington wines was that we sampled two of the Walter Dacon Syrahs side by side – the 2007 C’est Syrah Beaux, and the 2007 C’est Syrah Magnifique. The challenge? To ascertain which had been aged in American oak, and which had been aged in French oak.

Both wines are 100% Syrah, yet there was clearly a difference between them. On its own, the Magnifique is a lovely, fruit forward wine with red berries and cherries on the palate, and a long finish. Since American oak is known to impart a coconut flavor, I thought I would be able to distinguish which wine was which based on detecting that flavor in one of the wines. However, it didn’t come across. In fact, I thought each of the wines gave off a hint of vanilla and spice, as French oak is known to do. Leave it to Bean to correctly solve the puzzle based on characteristics in the wine she felt had been imparted based on the degree of toast that had been given to the oak. She then deduced which type of oak would be most likely to receive that level of toast. The answer:  The C’est Syrah Magnifique was aged in French oak. Guess I better stay in wine school.

Here’s where it got even more interesting! Bean prepared an amazingly smokey barbequed salmon to pair with the Syrahs. While the salmon was certainly tasty in its own right, it imparted a smooth silky essence that totally played off and heightened the Magnifique. In exchange, the Magnifique seemed to lure out even more smokey essence from the salmon. This is a pairing that I won’t soon forget! If you’re not inclined to barbeque yet this year, try this Syrah with Tarragon Chicken.