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."
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."
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."
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.
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.
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."
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."
JEB DUNNUCK 91-93 POINTS - "Consistently thrilling wines come from l'Aventure, which is run with incredible talent and passion by St. Emilion native Stephan Asseo. His 2016s are incredible efforts, and the 2017 more Rhone blends are certainly in the same ballpark. Due to the heat spikes at harvest, Bordeaux varieties were much more difficult and hit or miss."
"Starting with the wines from barrel, the 2017 Optimus (55% Syrah, 41% Grenache, and the rest Petit Verdot) will certainly be a charming, sexy, outstanding bottle of wine. It gives up lots of cassis and jammy dark fruits in a primary, full-bodied, layered style."
Winery's Tasting Notes: "Graduating from college this year, Alec's life will soon take a more serious turn but there's still plenty of youthful delight in his 2017 Alec's Blend. 58% Syrah, 21% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon this year's blend is complex and fruit forward with opulent black cherry and a dash of sweet molasses. Sporting plush palate texture throughout, the wine finishes with delicious chocolatey tannins."
A blend of 70% Syrah, 9% Mourvedre, 8% Grenache, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petite Sirah, 3% Zinfandel, and 2% Clairette Blanche, Beautiful Earth is Mcprice Myers' flagship Paso Robles Blend, and it represents the best lots from their favorite westside vineyards. Ripe berries, violets, rose petals, sweet tobacco, peach-blackberry cobbler, dried sage, dark chocolate, and leather are all present on the nose. The palate is juicy and voluptuous with hints of cocoa powder, it is opulent and lush with a vibrant beam of energy ushering in a tantalizing finish.
Named for Ron Melville's wife, Donna's block is planted atop twenty feet of sand in the northeast section of Melville's vineyard and is composed of two-thirds clone 1 and one-third Estrella clone. Fermented as 100% whole clusters and aged in neutral barrel, this wine provides vividly enhanced aromatics and structure making it demonstrative of the extremely cool climate of the site on which it is grown.
ANTONIO GALLONI 95 POINTS - "Just bottled, the 2017 Syrah Donna's is simply fabulous. The 2017 is remarkable for many reasons, most notably its translucent sense of elegance and finesse. The 100% whole clusters are impeccably balanced. This sandy site yields a Syrah built on aromatic nuance and finesse. Hints of lavender, sage and mint open up in the glass, but the 2017 needs time to be at its very best. Even so, it is super-impressive today."
JEB DUNNUCK 95 POINTS - "Always from the same parcel of vines in the estate vineyard, the 2017 Syrah Estate Donna's was not destemmed and was brought up in neutral oak. It offers a wonderful bouquet of blackberries, plums, curing spices, olives, lavender, and violets. It's not the biggest, richest example of this cuvée, but it's still full-bodied and has a terrific sense of purity, a sexy texture, and a great finish. Enjoy this textbook Sta. Rita Hills Syrah over the coming decade or more."
Morgan G17 is a blend of 90% Syrah, 5% Grenache, and 5% Tempranillo from Northern and Central Monterey County. "G17" is one of Monterey County's best known highways, linking several of their grape growing appellations.
This Rhone-style blend has a rich ruby red color, highlighted with purple edges. Boysenberry, white pepper, and hints of sweet flowers jump out of the glass. The wine is medium-bodied with soft tannins; it offers a mouthful of black fruits and cured meat. Its weight and balance make it a perfect pairing with anything off the grill.
JEB DUNNUCK 99 POINTS - "I continue to be blown away by the wines of Paul Lato, and these are unquestionably some of the most profound and exciting wines coming from the Central Coast today. The lineup has grown substantially over the past decade, and Lato now releases upwards of five Chardonnays, six Pinot Noirs, two Grenaches, three Syrahs, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a Malvasia. Despite the number of wines, quality hasn't slipped an inch, and the wines show incredible site and varietal typicity always paired with sensational fruit and balance. In short, don't miss these wines!"
"Completely destemmed and aged 20 months in new French oak, it reveals a textbook bouquet of creme de cassis, blueberries, lavender, crushed rocks, pepper, iodine, and assorted meaty nuances. This gives way to an ultra-fine, full-bodied, concentrated Syrah that has no hard edges, heavenly purity of fruit, and a blockbuster finish, and despite being a big rich wine, it stays fresh, weightless, and elegant. It will probably merit a triple-digit score in 3-4 years and is undoubtedly one of the wines of this vintage. Bravo!"
The cooler climate grapes lend a savory, spicy character with refreshing acidity and balanced alcohol. The warmer climate grapes give the wine a more forward fruit character and add suppleness and earlier drinkability.
The Stolpman winery has one of the most prized vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley. Their warm days, cool nights and limestone-rich soils make this property similar to parts of France's Rhone Valley. Their dedication to high-quality fruit has been noticed and the fruit utilized by some of the best wineries in California, such as Sine Qua Non, Ojai, Jaffurs and Andrew Murray.
With 18 acres of Roussanne, Stolpman Vineyards accounts for over 5% of planted acreage of the grape in California. The notoriously late-ripening, sluggish varietal is perfectly suited to Stolpman's Ballard Canyon site. Low humidity and high afternoon winds blowing off the Pacific combine to prevent fungal issues that plague the grape in Europe and other wetter regions. Intense, late season, Southern Latitude Sun; the Roussanne tans to its beautiful namesake "Rousse" - or rust color. Stolpman's experienced crew, La Cuadrilla, hand plucks every leaf away from the fruit through the early summer and then rotates each cluster once one side turns golden – usually in early September. Only evenly tanned fruit is then visually selected during multiple hand-harvesting passes.
ANTONIO GALLONI 90 POINTS - "The 2017 Roussanne Estate is quite delicate in this vintage. In 2017, the Estate has 12% Chardonnay, which adds complexity and nuance, while also pushing some of the Roussanne character into the background. Even so, it is a very pretty wine. Drink it over the next few years."
Representing a portion of every Syrah block on the vineyard, Estate Syrah best represents Stolpman Vineyard’s soil, methodology, and the Ballard Canyon weather conditions in any given year.
ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "The 2017 Syrah Estate Grown is absolutely gorgeous. Fresh, floral and wonderfully perfumed, the Estate expresses all the best vintage had to offer. Sweet floral, spice and dried herbs are beautifully laced into a core of dark Syrah. Not only is the Estate a terrific example of the year, it also captures the interplay of rich fruit and more savory notes that is so typical of the best Ballard Canyon Syrahs. The 2017 is simply compelling. That's all there is to it. "
Every so often, you'll peruse our newsletter and see that we ask why more people are doing things like Winery "A". Well…this is one of those times! While the noteworthy wines from Tablas Creek are nothing new (but they are still exciting), their Patelin bottlings are new. This blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Counoise comes from their Westside Paso neighbors who have planted vineyards using Tablas clones.
In theory, this Patelin red should be tight, young, and tart…but on the contrary, this wine is rich, concentrated and immensely delicious. In fact, our buyer wouldn't spit this wine out! Deep ruby/garnet in color, the nose is loaded with Asian spices, raspberry, black cherry, and orange marmalade while the palate follows suit and adds hints of grilled meats, graphite, and cocoa. Rich, flavorful, and with silky tannins, this is a great value in wine, and one that just may make you ask yourself why you haven't tried these wines before!
ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 90-92 POINTS - "Glass-staining ruby. Perfumed aromas of ripe, spice-tinged dark berries and candied flowers pick up an exotic suggestion of apricot as the wine opens up. Silky and energetic in style, offering sappy black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors and a suave touch of Asian spices. Takes a sweet turn on the gently tannic, persistent finish and leaves a note of candied flowers behind."
JEB DUNNUCK 97 POINTS - "There are few estates in California today that are more exciting than Don Burns' Turtle Rock. Pulling from some of the top vineyards on the westside of Paso Robles and making the wines as Justin Smith’s Saxum estate, Burns has consistently produced some of the wines of the vintage since his first releases in 2014. As I wrote in the past, readers interested in finding the next up and coming superstar in Paso Robles need to put Don and Claudia Burns' Turtle Rock estate at the top of their list."
"The 2017 Claude's Cuvee is an interesting blend of 52% Syrah, 22% Grenache, 10% Mataro, 8% Tempranillo, and 8% Carignan that was raised mostly in French oak. It offers a more earthy, meaty bouquet of spiced black fruits, cedarwood, leafy herbs, and herbed meat. Beautifully textured and full-bodied, it offers ripe, polished tannins and a great, great finish. It ranks with the best of the best and will cruise for a decade in cool cellars."
ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 95 POINTS - "Dark bright-rimmed ruby. High-pitched, spice-accented aromas of blackberry and cherry liqueur, potpourri and incense pick up a mineral quality with air. Seamless and expansive on the palate, offering concentrated red and blue fruit, licorice pastille and spicecake flavors that show sharp definition and back-end thrust, turning sweeter as the wine opens up. Finishes extremely long, with smoothly interwoven tannins and lingering spice and floral notes."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 94+ POINTS - "The medium to deep ruby colored 2017 Claude's Cuvee is mainly Syrah, blended with smaller amounts of Grenache, Mataro and Carignan. It was made with 41% whole cluster and aged 22 months in 70% new oak. It has an appealingly "cool climate" perfume of white pepper, mint chocolate, blackcurrants, fresh violets and a core of blackberries and blueberries. The medium to full-bodied palate is elegant, super fresh and restrained, with a grainy frame and still tightly wound finish. This is lovely! Give it another year or two in bottle. 220 cases were made."