Bob Tillman searched for several years for the site where he could plant a truly world-class vineyard. After the family moved to the Central Coast of California and tasted the wines coming out of Paso Robles, they knew they found the right region! In 2003, Bob found this beautiful hilltop property on Adelaida Road that would become Alta Colina. All the grapes on this property are organically farmed, and the fruit is so amazing that other Central Coast producers such as McPrice Myers, Sans Liege, and Paydirt get fruit from Alta Colina.
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.
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "The 2016 Syrah Tous les Jours sports a medium to deep garnet-purple color and leaps from the glass with vibrant raspberry coulis, black cherry and red currant notes with touches of baking spices and roses. The medium to full-bodied palate fills the mouth with spices and red and black fruits, framed by plush, rounded tannins and finishing on a peppery note. This is so different from the previous vintage of this wine and nicely done too!"
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.
ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "Duncan Arnot describes 2017 as a year with a longer growing season than 2016, which goes to show how different the growing season was in Sonoma relative to Napa Valley, which so often tends to dominate the discussion of California wines. In tasting, the 2017s here all show terrific energy and complexity. Moreover, the combination of intense summer heat and the cooler sites Arnot and Nathan Roberts favor, yielded a set of positively stunning wines. The 2017 Syrahs in particular are off the charts."
"The 2017 Syrah (Sonoma Coast) is a gorgeous wine and a huge overachiever in its peer group. Bright red cherry and plum fruit, rose petal, lavender and spice abound in this super-expressive, pliant Syrah. The purity of the flavors is simply remarkable. Medium in body, gracious and beautifully perfumed, the 2017 is a rock-star wine."
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."
JEB DUNNUCK 95-97 POINTS - "The purple-hued 2017 Fracture (100% Syrah aging in 65% new barrels) is another wine that shows a more fresh, elegant style, all while still packing rock star levels of fruit and texture. Cassis, vanilla bean, spice, and background oak notes all emerge from this full-bodied Syrah that has a clean, balanced texture, terrific mid-palate depth, and fabulous tannin quality. It's going to benefit from just short-term cellaring and cruise for a decade."
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 53% Malbec, 16% Syrah, 15% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah, and 7% Mourvedre, .Syrah, Malbec, Mourvedre, and Petite Sirah, this wine is brimming with rich blackberry, raspberry, and plum notes. Ripe fruit reminiscent of blueberry pie is balanced by an underpinning of baking spices. The thick composition of this blend is complemented by a core of volcanic tannins and is drawn out to a lengthy finish by subtle minerality. Currently accessible, but age worthy for at least a decade.
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 92 POINTS - "The 2014 Syrah Tepusquet Vineyard is one of the most compelling wines in this range. Rich and explosive, with layers of dark fruit that build effortlessly, it possesses superb intensity and volume. It also appears to have more than enough depth to handle the 100% new French oak. The 2014 was done with fully destemmed fruit."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "From humble beginnings in 1998, Carlisle continues to go from strength to strength, growing from a solid philosophy of sourcing mainly Zinfandel and Rhône varieties from ancient vineyards in Sonoma and further afield. So, most of the vines used by Mike and Kendall Officer were planted from 1888 to 1934. From 2013, they have their own winery in which to create their magic—the old Robert Mueller winery in Russian River Valley."
"Made up of 100% Syrah, the deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Syrah Papa's Block comes bounding out of the glass with gregarious crushed blackcurrants and black plums with touches of dried herbs, black pepper, aniseed and tilled soil plus a waft of underbrush. Full-bodied with a firm backbone of grainy tannins and a lively line supporting the generous fruit, it has a very long, savory finish. 561 cases produced."
ANTONIO GALLONI 93-96 POINTS - "The Carlisle 2016s are quite possibly the most brilliant wines I have ever tasted from Mike Officer. A move towards picking on the earlier side than in the past along with the natural virtues of the vintage come together to yield a set of thrilling, captivating wines of the very highest level. According to Officer 2016 was shaping up to be similar to 2015, until cool weather arrived in August and slowed down ripening, which, in turn, extended hang time by a few weeks. The only problem with the 2016s is that readers may not be able to buy all the wines given the vast number of compelling bottlings in this range. I would be thrilled to drink any of these wines any day of the week. They are every bit that outstanding. Even better, pricing remains exceedingly fair by any standard or measure. Readers who can find these wines should not hesitate, as they are truly magnificent."
"The 2016 Syrah Papa's Block brings together so many of the best elements that make the Carlisle wines so compelling. Explosive and powerful, with real character, the 2016 is a superb. The 22% whole clusters add an expressive aromatic top notes that plays off the dark, inky fruit beautifully. All the elements are wonderfully fused together in a deep, plush wine endowed with pedigree and class."
While many 2017s were picked earlier than their 2016 counterparts, this was one of the few exceptions where Carlisle picked later, despite lower yields. Twenty percent of the fruit was not destemmed to add structure and aromatics. After a five-day cold soak, the wine was fermented with two yeast strains that emphasize varietal character and mouthfeel. Twenty-five days on the skin. Pressed to all French oak, 24% new, and bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Tasting Note: Dark purple-ruby. A floral top note provided by the whole cluster complements aromas of macerated blackberries and roasted meat. Medium-full to full-bodied. While whole cluster can often add additional tannin to a wine, here it seems to have made the wine smoother, more harmonious. With exceptional balance, this wine will have a wide window of enjoyment.
ANTONIO GALLONI 92-95 POINTS - "The 2017 Syrah Papa's Block is dense, powerful and explosive. Blackberry jam, lavender, spice, menthol and game infuse the 2017 with tremendous character. The 20% whole stems add aromatic nuance, but are not especially apparent. Inky and deep, yet also quite nuanced, the Papa's is wonderfully complete, not to mention one of the highlights in this vast range of 2017s from Carlisle and Mike Officer."
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.
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "These latest releases from Charles Smith check in at the top of the pyramid and are flat out incredible wines that I wish every reader could taste."
"A candidate for the wine of the vintage, the 2013 Syrah Royal City is as expansive, sexy and voluptuous as they get in the vintage, hands down. It's deep ruby/purple color is followed by incredible notes of wild herbs, lavender, gamey meats, olive paste and sweet dark berry fruits. Full-bodied, relatively forward and charming, it still packs a wealth of material and has building tannin, all suggesting it will drink nicely for 10-15 years."
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.
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. In 2013, the MJM was painstakingly selected from the top lots of John Sebastiano Vineyard (55%), Stolpman (25%), Thompson (15%) and Harrison Clarke (5%) and was aged for 27 months in oak barrels (30% new) before bottling without filtration. We are thrilled with the 2014 MJM which is ripe, juicy and penetrating, with great big dark fruit flavors, tons of spice and meat notes and a big tannic spine completely buried in fresh fruit goodness. Already approachable now, this wine will easily age for 15 years. You'll also love the impressive new label and bottle, befitting this special wine.
JEB DUNNUCK 97 POINTS - "Epoch's Jordan Fiorentini has knocked it out of the park with these latest 2014s and 2015s, and I suspect these are the most complete, balanced wines from her to date. While the estate is located on York Mountain, all these wines come from their estate Paderewski Vineyard located off of Peachy Canyon road, on the westside of Paso Robles. As I hope the reviews and scores show, these are terrific wines."
"Seeing the largest percentage of whole clusters of all the cuvees, the 2014 Authenticity is a blend of 89% Syrah and 11% Mourvedre that was fermented with close to 40% stems and brought up in 66% new French oak. Its inky color is followed by a huge, unctuous, seriously decadent red that offers notes of blackberries, creme de cassis, barbecue smoke, white chocolate and spring flowers. With a stacked mid-palate and impressive concentration, as well as sensational purity and notable structure, it's a killer wine. I like it today, but I suspect it will be even better in another year or two. "
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "Made from 89% Syrah and 11% Mourvedre, the 2014 Authenticity Proprietary Red sports a deep garnet-purple color and nose of crushed blackberries, warm black plums and black cherries with hints of black pepper, dried bay leaves, lavender and olive oil-drizzled toast. Full-bodied, with tons of taut, muscular fruit, the palate is firmly structured with rounded tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long on a lingering earthy note. 517 cases were produced."
The Eric Kent Russian River Valley Syrah of the past few years has proudly grown into their newest vineyard-designated wine! Atoosa's Vineyard now brings its own distinctive expression of Syrah to the EK line-up. Located on the cool southern edge of the Russian River Valley, the superb fruit from this the late-ripening spot has been adding a vital element to their Kalen's and formed the core of their Russian River Valley Syrah since 2012. With the nexus of experience, true partnership with a great grower, and the excellent 2015 vintage, it's time to let Atoosa's shine all on its own.
Atoosa's is a pure expression of the mysterious, animal side of the grape. Loads of black fruit, with hints of pepper, flowers, tar and a touch of bramble from the whole-cluster fermentation. We hope you can cellar some to watch it evolve over the years and perhaps even the decades. If you must drink some sooner rather than later, give it a healthy decanting and pair it with some hearty fare, or enjoy an open bottle over several days to watch it unfold.
A blend of 53% Syrah, 32% Grenache, and 15% Petite Sirah, this opaque purple-colored wine entices with aromas of blackberry, black cherry, plum, boysenberry, vanilla, baking spices, smoked chocolate, and anise. Flavors of blueberry, blackberry, dark chocolate, plum, smoked meat, and vanilla lead to a lenghty finish.
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."
Hitching Post Wines are made by Frank Ostini, chef/owner of the Hitching Post II, and Gray Hartley, a former commercial fisherman. Starting in 1979 with one barrel in their garage, over the years they have made Hitching Post Wine at Au Bon Climat/Qupe, Central Coast Wine Services in Santa Maria, and now at the ultra-modern Terravant in Buellton. From humble beginnings to high tech, they continue to make traditional wines of balance and finesse that emphasis deep fruit, spice, and earthiness. Always focused on a wide selection of Pinot Noirs, Hartley and Ostini also make dry rose, Chardonnay, and other reds from Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Sangiovese.
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "The 2015 Syrah Sur Echalas Vineyard is just as striking as its Grenache sibling, unfurling with an equally complex nose of sweet cassis, beef blood, bitter cocoa, peony and violets, with notions of grilled meat and truffle emerging with time. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and amazingly intense, with a deep and multidimensional core framed by remarkably satiny, layered tannins, concluding with a long, saline finish."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "Of these three offerings from Horsepower, the 2015 Syrah The Tribe Vineyard will require the most time, as it's the most tight-knit at this early stage, slowly unwinding in the glass with savory aromas of raw cocoa, tapenade, nori and ripe blackberries. On the palate, it's full-bodied, deep and concentrated, with a rich chassis of satiny structuring tannins and a layered, umami-laden core of fruit. At 13.6% alcohol, it's also beautifully balanced."