2014 Sonoma Coast Syrah
Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, CA
2014 Vintage: The year began with continued drought conditions, unusually warm winter temperatures, and very little frost. These conditions combined motivated the vines to wake up and begin their growing season 4-6 weeks ahead of normal. These same warm temperatures allowed for an even fruit set, and, happily, a great deal of concentration from tiny berries in both Pinot and other varietals. The ripening season itself was dry and consistently warm, queueing the grapes up for one of our earliest harvests on record -- we started bringing in fruit in mid-August.
Vineyard: We love Syrah, and we have a particular soft spot for Syrah from the Sonoma Coast. While many consider the area to be marginal for proper ripening of the varietal (and, indeed, we are often picking well into November), the cool days and downright cold nights of the far coast create wines of tight focus and tense balance. We feel that the distinct aromatics and classic characteristics of these Syrahs are more than worth a bit of late picking. This wine contains fruit syrah from both Peters and Campbell Ranch.
Winery: We harvest the syrah towards the end of the season - around November 1 or after. We vinify 60% whole cluster. We don't inoculate or add enzymes at primary stage and let uncultivated yeasts perform the fermentation while punching down a few times a day. The wine is gently pressed when it has been dry for a few days in the fermenter. At this point, some of the whole berries do release a touch of fresh, carbonically macerated juice - the fermentation is officially completed in barrel. The wine sees only neutral oak. We do not initiate malolactic fermentation, which often will last uninfluenced until the following Spring. We employed a bit of lees stirring at the beginning of elevage but then allowed the wine to uncoil in barrel with periodic topping. For the Sonoma Coast Syrah we select barrels of more readily drinking wine for the blend. Syrahs are bottled close to 18 months post-harvest.
Tasting: This wine consistently shows many of the best aspects of cool-climate Syrah: fresh-ground mixed peppercorn, damson plum, and a hint of leathery funk dominate the nose. The palate builds further savory notes to the crackly fruit of the nose, and agile tannins create a mouthfeel of breadth and balance without a hint of fat. Breezy, coastal acids delineate the elegant, lively finish. This wine drinks well on release but will benefit from several years of aging.