This wine floored us from the very first sip! Ancient Peaks sits in the Paso Robles appellation, 22 miles south of the city itself, and just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Here, the surrounding peaks of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range act as a gateway between one region to the south that is exceedingly ocean-cooled, and another to the north that is much, much warmer (sometimes downright hot!). When the days heat up in the areas north and east of Margarita Vineyard, the air rises to create a vacuum that pulls marine breezes and fog inland over the peaks, and right through the vineyard. This means the fruit gets ripe, without any "off" flavors, yet the cooling afternoon breezes help the resulting wine to retain freshness and acidity.
The Renegade is a blend of 32% Syrah, 25% Zinfandel, 20% Malbec, 19% Petit Verdot, and 4% Petite Sirah, the wine is loaded with deep berry aromas that reveal accents of toasty oak, baking spice, cedar and tobacco. The texture is broad and velvety, offering concentrated flavors of boysenberry, blueberry, black cherry and cocoa that are powerfully framed by savory notes of bacon fat and pepper. Plush tannins and lengthy fruit converge into a smooth, seamless finish.
JEB DUNNUCK 90 POINTS - "The entry-level Syrah, the 2017 Syrah Tous Les Jours was brought up all in neutral barrels. Coming entirely from sites in the Santa Ynez Valley, it offers a deep ruby/plum color as well as a juicy bouquet of smoked black fruits, olives, sappy herbs, pepper, and scorched earth. Medium-bodied, juicy, balanced, and about as quaffable as they come, it's a no-brainer effort to enjoy over the coming 4-5 years."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "Medium to deep ruby-purple, the 2017 Syrah Tous les Jours opens with notes of tar and smoke, giving way to peppered meat, black olive and dense black and blue fruits with floral notions. Medium to full-bodied, it fills the mouth with dark fruits firmly framed by ripe tannins and lifted by juicy acidity, finishing long."
The focus of this two person operation is on small lot, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, as well as several other varieties uncommon in Northern Californian vineyards. Sites are carefully chosen and are generally on the cooler end of the spectrum for the planted varieties. Collaboration with dedicated and passionate growers is paramount in the farming of these sites.
Duncan and Nathan grew up around winemaking in the Napa Valley. Nathan is a second generation cooper and personally builds all of the French oak barrels that are utilized in the ageing of all Arnot-Roberts wines. Over the years Duncan has worked making wine in the Napa Valley in wineries like, Caymus, Groth, Acacia, Kongsgaard. Total production of Arnot-Roberts is around 2,000 cases per year with thirteen individual wines.
Winemaker's Tasting Notes: "As usual our value offering of Syrah is primarily made up of declassified lots of our vineyard designated wines. In 2018 this means Hudson, Griffin's Lair, Alder Springs, Weill, Shake Ridge and others make the majority of the blends, combined with small amounts of Bedrock Vineyard Syrah, Walker Vine Hill and others. All lots saw some use of whole-cluster (ranging from 20-100%) and there is a small amount of Viognier also cofermented in a few of the lots. Elevage was done in a variety of barrel sizes, a small fraction of which were new. Perfumed, peppery and meaty, this wine should slay it for the price. Back up the truck! "
Born in Michoacan, Mexico, winemaker Edgar Torres has lived in the coastal town of Cambria, California since the age of 8. As it seems to happen to many people who live close to Paso Robles, he fell in love with wine and decided to make his livelihood in the wine business. Hey...can you blame him?!? He has worked with many of the superstars of the Central Coast, including Matt Garretson, Augie Hug and Alta Maria Vineyards. More recently, he has worked alongside one of our best friends, McPrice Myers over at Barrel 27 (what a mentor!), when Edgar isn't tinkering on his own wines.
Edgar makes wines that knock our socks off! The intensity of these wines are rivaled by few here in the United States and we suggest you check out what Edgar can do! El CabRhone is a play on words, as this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Rhone varietals (30% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre). The wine offers a lovely blackberry and plum core which is surrounded by cinnamon and sweet applewood smoke notes, with orange-peel-candied-in-chocolate elements. Fine tannins and elegant acidity combine with the pure fruit and spices for a long, seamless finish. Only 145 cases were produced!
JEB DUNNUCK 96-98 POINTS - "Lastly, the 2017 Vertigo checks in as 63% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, 4% Grenache, and the balance Petite Sirah that's still aging in 65% new French oak. One of the more voluptuous, sexy 2017s from Jenson, it boasts loads of black and blue fruits, ground pepper, and spring flower aromas and flavors. Deep, full-bodied, ultra-pure, and with a big finish, it's killer wine in the making."
Brassfield's Volcano Ridge Vineyard is located on the steep slopes of an extinct cinder cone at 2,200 feet above sea level on the eastern end of High Valley. The pure volcanic soils are ideal for vine stress, restricting crop yields, and making wine that has both intensity and elegance.
A blend of 40% Petite Sirah, 21% Syrah, 12% Malbec, 11% Mourvedre, 11% Grenache, and 5% Zinfandel, this wine is packed with terroir driven fruit and structure. A spicy nose is balanced with intense flavors of plum, raspberry, blackberry, black currant, and anise. Dark raisins dusted with black pepper fill the core of this full-bodied and soft, lush wine. Amazing on its own or with grilled meats and soft cheeses.
After graduating from Cal Poly SLO, winemaker Denise Shurtleff worked at a local winery as a lab tech during harvest, and was quickly introduced to the intensity and passion associated with fine winemaking. She worked all aspects at the winery, learning how each and every part of the winemaking process affects the final wine. The sustainably-farmed Tempusquet Vineyard in Santa Maria produces grapes of intense quality, and Denise knows just the methods needed to get the vineyard's best into the bottle.
ANTONIO GALLONI 94 POINTS - "The 2015 Syrah Tepusquet Vineyard is the most impressive wine in the range today. Powerful, dense and explosive, the 2015 pulses with both energy. An exotic melange of inky dark fruit, creme de cassis, lavender, black pepper and spice builds as this striking wine shows off its pedigree."
JEB DUNNUCK 94+ POINTS - "Coming from a single vineyard in the cooler Bennett Valley (although the site is so unique they don't label this wine as from Bennett Valley), the 2017 The Integral checks in as 62% Syrah and 38% Mourvedre that had the Syrah mostly destemmed and the Mourvedre fermented with 100% whole clusters. Deep purple-hued with notes of smoke blue fruits, bloody minerality, charcoal, and graphite, it's medium to full-bodied, concentrated, backward, and structured. Hide bottles for 4-5 years and it's going to keep for over a decade."
WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - "A light-footed bruiser, opening with boldly expressive blackberry jam aromas before revealing a structured core wrapped in compelling currant, licorice and smoky beef flavors. Syrah and Mourvedre. Best from 2021 through 2028. 422 cases made."
ANTONIO GALLONI 94-97 POINTS - "This set of 2020 releases from proprietor Mike Officer and winemaker Jay Maddox is stellar. There are so many alluring wines in this range, that I don't really know where to start. But, if I had to pick a few, they would be the Sonoma County Syrah (a fabulous value), the Carlisle Zinfandel and the Sierra Mar Syrah. Most of the wines see a cold soak of around 5 days. New oak is in the 20-30% range, and whole clusters are used with restraint. More than anything else, I was blown away by the sheer finesse of the 2018s, and the extraordinary degree to which they convey the essence of place, which is such a fundamental concept in world-class wine."
"As good as the Rosella's Syrah is, the 2018 Sierra Mar has an added kick of everything. Inky dark fruit, chocolate, spice, leather, menthol and licorice all build in a deep, expansive Syrah loaded with character. The 20% whole clusters are evident, but not at all dominant. More than anything else, the Sierra Mar Syrah possesses tremendous vertical intensity as well as purity. What a wine!"
ANTONIO GALLONI 90-93 POINTS - "The 2018 Syrah (Sonoma County) is fabulous. If I were going to focus on only one wine in this range, it might very well be the Sonoma County Syrah, as it offers extraordinary value. Black cherry, plum, gravel, spice, chocolate and leather infuse the 2018 with remarkable intensity and power. The 2018 is built around a core of fruit from Radiant Ridge, in Bennett Valley, which will become a vineyard designate in this range at some point in the future. Quite frankly, the 2018 is a stunning wine."
With the summer sun making (heat) waves and the June gloom hopefully gone, it's time to focus on refreshing wines for the warm season. Of course, we're leading with this amazing Rose from Washington State, part of a collaboration between Charles Smith (K Vintners, Charles Smith Wines) and Charles Bieler (Three Thieves, BIEL-ER Pere et Fils & Gotham Project). Made from 71% Syrah, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Mourvedre, 4% Gre-nache, 2% Counoise and 1% Cinsault, the sum of these parts makes for a beautiful, thirst-quenching wine with great underlying acidity; in other words, the perfect wine to feature for July (and the stylized American flag label certainly is apropos!).
To ensure minimal color or tannin pick up from the moment the fruit is harvested until it arrives at the winery, they pick almost exclusively at night. Once in the winery, each tank is treated a little differently to ensure each has its own unique perspective so that when it's blended together they have the most complex and multi layered Rose they can. While utilizing a mix of different yeasts, they have been loving the depth and character that native fermentations are giving so over half are now native. The resulting wine has both cut and generosity, lift and energy, and we are loving it! As always, the balance between the acidity at the finish and the savory, citrus and tangy cherry are the dominant features.
The nose leads with lush fruits, watermelon, peach and mixed orchard fruit punch finishing with a touch of salinity, hints of apple and rose petal. The mouthfeel is lush and rich with beautiful sweet fruits dancing across the tongue. Watermelon, strawberry cream and white peach lead to plum punch and a touch of créme fraîche. Excellent acidity keeps the wine lively and uplifted on the palate. The finish is clean, rounded and refreshing-- reiterating sweet spring fruits that last and last. Stock up on this one for summer! Perfect for Independence Day par-ties and beyond.
A blend of 52% Syrah, 21% Grenache, 12% Petite Sirah, 8% Tannat, and 7% Mourvedre, the life of the party has just arrived and is setting up shop in your mouth. It's approachable, as all good party guests should be, with lively flavors of blackberries, cherries and strawberries to get things started. And this Paso red blend knows how to mingle, introducing milk chocolate, caramel and leather to all those beautiful fruits. It's going to be an interesting night.
The Delmore 2018 Syrah is from the dry-farmed Stolo Vineyard and CCOF-certified Boulder Ridge vineyard: both wildly cool climate sites in California. I co-fermented 5% Viognier into both lots and aged the finished wine in three neutral French Oak barrels. Easily my finest effort to date.
"This is possibly the most savory rendition of Syrah made on the Central Coast, each vintage as feral as the last,” noted Matt Kettmann, contributing editor to Wine Enthusias"
Planted in 1999, Denner Vineyards is a winegrowing estate on the far western border of the Paso Robles AVA. Their 156 acres press up against the Santa Lucia Range, giving the site great diversity of elevation, aspect and soil. Previously dry farmed barley, the estate is nestled into the Templeton Gap, an East/West corridor where the marine layer can reach the inland valleys. As a result they receive large diurnal temperature swings without high moisture pressure, giving us a near perfect growing climate.
The 108 acres under vine are comprised of 19 different varieties in 26 unique blocks. Each block is farmed with painstaking attention to detail, allowing only for the best possible grapes to reach the winery. Aron Nevarez, their vineyard manager, is committed to environmentally friendly farming practices, using only sustainable inputs and minimal irrigation.
The "Dirt Worshipper" is a blend of 97% Syrah, 2% Roussanne, and 1% Viognier. An explosion of violets, black olives, plums, white pepper, and forest floor are a stunning introduction to this hedonistic beast. Flavors of seared ribeye, menthol, rolling tobacco, and blueberry dance around on the visceral palate. The mid-palate offers profound depth and power, but brightens as it evolves into a graceful and extraordinarily long finish.
Dragonette's signature Syrah, named in honor of their wives Mitchi, Jen, and Michelle, this wine is a selection of their favorite barrels of Syrah, blended with small amounts of Grenache and Viognier, and then given extended barrel aging as dictated by the vintage character of the wine.
Seven is Dragonette's Syrah-based blend, originally named for the seven exceptional cool climate vineyard sites from which it was comprised. They have refined their vineyard sources for this wine over the years, selecting precise blocks and clones to increase aromatic and flavor complexity, rather than sheer fruit power. The 2016 Seven is comprised of 89% Syrah, 10% Grenache and 1% Viognier. The wine is sourced from John Sebastiano Vineyard, Stolpman Vineyard, Larner Vineyard, Kimsey, and Spear. The wine was aged in French oak barrels and puncheons (10% new) for 18 months before blending and bottling.
We are thrilled with the performance of this wine, as it is already beginning to show off explosive, complex aromatics (red, blue and black fruits, spices and meats), a rich, yet lifted palate, smooth texture and a scintillatingly long finish for such a young wine. We expect this wine to continue to develop over the coming years and to last for well over a decade.
ANTONIO GALLONI 90 POINTS - "Fess Parker's 2017 Syrah (Santa Barbara County) is powerful and bold, with expressive savory and peppery notes that add striking shades of complexity. This is an especially rich, racy style. A touch of sweetness from American oak is a lovely accent to ripe dark cherry, plum, chocolate, licorice and grilled herb flavors."
JEB DUNNUCK 97 POINTS - "The 2016 Syrah Estate checks in as 100% Syrah that saw a small amount of stems. It spent 18 months in 25% new French oak. Deeply colored, it displays a thrilling bouquet of smoked black fruits, violets, smoked meats, charcoal, and graphite. Deep, rich, incredibly fleshy and flamboyant, with perfect balance, it's a serious, world-class Syrah that will keep for 10-15 years."
This is an insane value from Curt Schalchlin; the owner and winemaker of SANS LIEGE. After several years learning from and working for some of the Central Coast's most sought-after producers, Curt decided to go his own way. The wines he puts under the Sans Liege label have received lofty praise from other winemakers and consumers, and his Groundwork label is on the way to becoming one of the better values in California's Central Coast!
For his Groundwork Syrah, Curt gets fruit from three phenomenal vineyards: White Hawk, Larner, Watch Hill, and Old Potrero. More often when you see single-vineyard wines from these properties, they will cost you $30-$45 per bottle. So you can already see what a value this wine is! Couple that with the fact that he ages the wine for 18 months in a mix of new and neutral French oak (again, something that you typically fine in pricier bottlings), and you will know why this is a knockout bargain!
The wine is redolent with grilled cherries, Swiss Tobacco, raspberry brambles, rare steak, grilled peaches, pumice, evergreen forest, strawberry hard candies, mocha, cherry cola, and hints of creosote (which Todd Johnston loves!).
Syrah is a perennial favorite at Halter Ranch, and their unique soil expresses a beautiful side of the grape varietal. This wine opens with aromas of blueberries and baking spices. The bright entry provides complex flavors of dried flowers, berry compote and a hint of earthiness, that leads to a long layered finish. This full-bodied wine will pair well with charcuterie and braised and grilled meats.
Russell From is the owner, winemaker, and sole employee of Herman Story wines. Russell is talented in the cellar, and has a keen eye for what a vineyard can and cannot do. What does this mean?...It means you have one of the more talented winemakers from Paso Robles and Santa Barbara bringing some of the most exciting wines!
Russell's Nuts and Bolts is 100% Syrah from some of the more pretigious vineyards in California's Central Coast, including Bien Nacido, White Hawk, and Luna Matta. His tasting notes read: "You've finally done it and curated the man cave of your dreams. The hand-carved cherry wood bar is fully stocked with everything from espresso tequila to berry-infused absinthe to Jolt Cola. The 1915 Brunswick pool table compliments the Elle Bleu Gargoyle humidor with names like Behike, Opus X and Black Dragon. The hint of gun-metal oil permeates the air from the well-kept Glock 17 kept on display, and the built-in Excelsior houses the 88" that just so happens to be tuned to a Jai Alai match. There's mesquite grilled Chateaubriand at the carving station and Tito Puente on the jukebox. Most of all, there is a level of comfort and intimacy that you swirl around your glass before drinking it all in."
Hug Cellar’s wines are wines that are truly “made in the vineyard”. Handcrafted cultivation by these dedicated growers, and gentle winemaking in the cellar, produce wines that are rich and intense in their aromas, textures and flavors. There is very little manipulation in the small lot winemaking at Hug Cellars. We utilize whole cluster and indigenous yeasts in our fermentations. This fosters wines that reflect the pure expression of these unique vineyards.
Charles Smith's K Vintners lineup of wines are among the more highly sought-after wines from Washington State. Charles isn't just a one trick pony, as he receives high scores and praise on his Viogniers, Merlots, Cabernets, and even his Chardonnays.
That being said, Syrah is truly his strong suit. Charles gets his grapes from some of the best vineyards in Washington State, but these are not necessarily well-known vineyards. Some of these vineyards are "out of sight" for other wineries, yet they produce some of the best Syrah in the state. So Charles gets the grapes for a very favorable price, and he keeps his prices favorable to you...the consumer! And when you couple these prices with the scores he receives from the critics, these are some of the best values you will find...anywhere!!! Supply is never high on these wines, so we do expect these to GO FAST!!!
JRB DUNNUCK 95 POINTS - "The 2015 Syrah River Rock is another rock star Syrah from this estate and it's just about overflowing with Rocks character. Currants, smoked herbs, olive brine and some peaty notes all give way to a ripe, concentrated, seamless beauty that has loads of charm and character. With fine tannin and a layered style, it will keep for 10-15 years."