A wine with a name that evolves as great sites come our way, this is what used to be the North Coast Syrah. In 2017 we started working with the beautiful Shake Ridge Ranch in the Sierra footkhills, which expanded the parameters of this wine beyond the “North Coast” AVA classification. We figured including fruit from this great site was worth changing the name-plus “North Coast” was just so boring. As always, this Syrah is composed of wines that were declassified from vineyard designate lots. Basically, we don’t want to make more than a certain amount of Hudson, Griffin’s Lair, Alder Springs, Weill, etc….so we put whatever is left into this wine-making a bangin’, crazy, flipping, margin-killing bargain given what goes into it. All of the lots saw between 20-80% whole-cluster and there is some co-fermented Viognier present as well. As always, we hope to capture the power and elegance that Syrah can straddle in California, showing here in a wine full of cracked green pepper, smoked meats and violet perfume - Morgan Twain-Peterson, Bedrock
94 Points! The 2015 Syrah Alturas is also a beauty that has a passing resemblance to a good vintage of Guigal’s Côte Rôtie la Mouline (just with less oak). Violets, incense, spring flowers, blackberries and blueberry notes all flow to a full-bodied, elegant, seamlessly textured Syrah that has plenty of classic pepper and spice, solid mid-palate depth and ripe tannin on the finish. It needs an hour in the decanter if drinking over the coming 2-3 years, and will have 15+ years of overall longevity. - Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com
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97 Points! Deeper colored than the 2016 Syrah Santa Barbara County, the 2015 Syrah Bien Nacido is getting up there in rarified air and is possibly the finest Syrah I’ve tasted from the estate. Thrilling notes of crème de cassis, blackberries, spring flowers, and bacon fat all soar from the glass. With full body, building yet ultra-fine tannins, a stacked mid-palate, and truly awesome purity, it certainly makes the best of this vintage and is a tour de force in Syrah that readers owe it to themselves to taste! It’s going to cruise in the cellar for upward of two decades. - Jeb Dunnuck
There's a bit of history here that can be confusing. Briefly, Pax was a hot label a few years back and the recipient of numerous impressive kudos, followed by a period where there were some internal issues and Pax, the label, was 'Pax free', whereby winemaker Pax Mahle founded the Wind Gap label. Long story short, Pax is back at Pax, and doing some fine work.
The Pax Cellars Syrah Sonoma Hillsides 2017 to us marks a new level of sophistication in the house style. We recall a lot of those early Pax Syrah hits to be firmly planted in the power camp which was definitely the style of the moment. But while the 'Hillsides' doesn't lack punch, it stops short of being over done, shows a more focused and controlled rein on the fruit, and teases with whiffs of meat, smoke, and maybe even a little bacon.
By the winery's own admission, this wine is the assemblage of juice from various higher, cooler sites made with a direct eye to the northern Rhone. This is something that most of the acknowledged Rhone Ranger superstars have yet to do. Syrah is still something of a work in progress in California, but this reaches a high level with a clear stylistic objective. Bravo.
96 Points! A step up, the 2014 Syrah Rodgers Creek Vineyard is a blockbuster effort that reminds me of a good vintage of the Côte Rôtie La Mouline from Guigal. Awesome notes of incense, lavender, bacon fat, and spring flowers gives way to a full-bodied, voluptuous Syrah that has a sexy, seamless texture, sweet tannin, and a big finish. This cuvée saw 10% Viognier and is an exotic, intense, superstar of a Syrah readers should snatch up. 587 cases. - Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com
96 Points! A step up and a classic Syrah that will have 15-20 years of ultimate longevity, the 2009 Syrah John Lewis is 100% Syrah, all from the Les Collines vineyard, that was fermented with 95% whole clusters. Exhibiting plenty of black currant, ground pepper, smoked bacon and lavender, it has superb precision and purity on the palate, with a seamless texture, full-bodied richness and brilliant length. Count me a fan and while a fun drink now, it will be better in another 2-3 years. Drink 2015-2024. - Jeb Dunnuck, robertparker.com
97 Points! The 2014 Syrah Bien Nacido (100% Syrah) spent just under three years in 100% new French oak. Like all of Russell's wines, it doesn't pull any punches with is huge nose of blackberries, pepper, smoked duck and lavender. Full-bodied, beautifully concentrated and layered, it stays graceful and lively on the palate, has terrific freshness (although I suspect the acidity is quite low), and a blockbuster finish. It's a seriously good, hedonistic, unabashed California Syrah to drink over the coming 5-7 years. Jeb Dunnuck, August 10, 2017
95-97 Points! The 2004 Syrah Cuvee Keltie (100% Syrah) displays classic licorice, asphalt, new saddle leather, blackberry liqueur, white chocolate, and pepper characteristics. This dense, full-bodied, superb Syrah possesses considerable structure and tannin. Give it 1-3 years of bottle age and consume it over the following 10-12. - Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #162, December 2005
94 Points! Possessing slightly more minerality than the Red Wine cuvee, the 2012 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard gives up lots of classic cool-climate Syrah notes of smoked meats, crushed rocks, liquid smoke and graphite on the nose. This carries to a full-bodied, fresh and focused Syrah that has noteworthy purity, building richness and a great finish. Fermented with 10% stems and aged 18 months in 80% new French oak, it's another serious red that will have 10-12 years of overall longevity. Jeb Dunnuck, eRobertParker.com #220, August 2015
Although production is tiny (300 cases), Araujo’s Eisele Vineyard Syrah is an ageworthy effort that is generally co-fermented with a small amount of Viognier (around 4%), and aged in French oak (50% new). The 2003 Syrah Eisele Vineyard reveals a wonderful blackberry, chocolate, and peppery-scented nose along with good subtlety as well as authoritative richness, power, and purity. It is a stunning Syrah that should last a decade even though it will provide immediate gratification. - Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #168
96-99 Points! A not yet bottled blend of 81% Syrah, 7% Mourvèdre, 5% Petite Sirah, and the rest Viognier and Grenache, fermented with 47% whole clusters, the 2016 Syrah Rätsel 16 is an inky colored beauty that has another level of depth and richness over the 2015. Black raspberries, cassis, white pepper, white chocolate, and hints of bacon fat give way to a full-bodied, seamless, elegant wine that has terrific freshness and purity, ultra-fine tannin, and a huge finish. Not too dissimilar from the 2014s, which have the same supple, sexy, and approachable style, it should drink reasonably well right out of the gate and cruise for 15-20 years in cool cellars. - Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com Learn More
96 Points! The 2016 Syrah comes from a site in the Yakima Valley that was planted by Leighton. Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by classic Syrah notes of dark berry fruits, smoke tobacco, olive tapenade, and ground pepper. Medium to full-bodied, with both freshness and richness, it’s impeccably balanced, with beautiful fruit and a great finish. It’s another seriously good wine from Brennon that delivers the goods. Drink it over the coming 7-8 years. - Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com
95 Points! The 2013 Syrah Griffins Lair Vineyard is another utterly compelling, vivid wine. Dark red plum, pomegranate, blood orange exotic spices infuse the mid palate, followed by wilder, gamier notes that develop over time. A blast of ripe red cherry, smoke, game and cured meats puts an exclamation point on this striking Syrah from Pax Wine Cellars. Precise and nuanced, but with tons of intensity, the Griffin's Lair is a total knock-out. Don't miss it. - Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
96 Points! This is an awesome expression of cool climate Syrah, with rosemary-crusted lamb chops, peppercorns, asphalt and elderberry-jam aromas starting the show. The palate is intense with cracked pepper, bay leaf, rosemary oil and sage, which play against riper black-fruit tones and elegant lavender flavors. - Wine Enthusiast
94 Points! The 2015 Syrah is fabulous, wafting from the glass with a complex bouquet of dark wild berries, cracked black pepper, dried flowers and plums. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, with a generous core of crunchy fruit that's framed by youthfully chewy tannins. Its acids are mouthwatering, and its finish is savory and long. This is a terrific Syrah from Tyler Russell. - William Kelley, Wine Advocate
94 Points! Another age-worthy wine is the 2015 Syrah Roll Ranch, which comes from a site just outside of Ojai. Beautiful notes of lavender, blueberries, ground pepper, and assorted leafy herbs all give way to a medium to full-bodied, silky, impeccably balanced Syrah that shows ample underlying structure and tannic grip. Nevertheless, it has a beautiful layer of fruit and offers pleasure even today. - Jeb Dunnuck
94 Points! The 2016 Syrah Grenache John Sebastiano (No SO2) is a rockstar wine from Ojai. The combination of Syrah and Grenache works wonders. Pliant, deep and resonant, the 2016 is full of character. The 2016 offers terrific persistence and impeccable overall balance. It is a wine of unusual class. I loved it. - Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
92-95 Points! The 2017 Syrah Para Maria is another attractive wine from Stolpman. Here, too, the fruit is bright, precise and articulate, which is to say quite a departure from the style of the 2016. Generous and pliant on the palate, with no hard edges and striking aromatics, the 2017 is shaping up to be a real beauty. The 2017 is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Petite Verdot (all purchased fruit) done with about 40% carbonic maceration. Don't miss it. - Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
Winery notes: This is Sandler's 8th Connell Vineyard Syrah, the most wines from any single vineyard Sandler has produced. 2015 was the earliest harvest on record for all of the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Grenache that we produce. However, for the very cool Connell Vineyard in the Bennett Valley, the 2015 came in during its typical time in late October. It was a smaller than normal crop, mostly due to the fourth year of drought conditions.
With its intriguing nose of black pepper, amaro and evergreen leaves, the 2015 Connell Syrah is one of the most unique Syrahs you'll ever try. The palate is tight and youthful, and should age exceptionally well. The anticipated maturity is between 2019 and 2030.
91 Points! The 2014 Syrah (Sonoma Coast) is striking in its beauty. Aromatically expressive and dense on the palate, the 2014 is a classic David Ramey Syrah built on intense fruit and structure. In this vintage, the fruit is decidedly red-toned in character. Drink the 2014 over the next handful of years. - Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media