The 2001 vintage was a climatic roller coaster ride. A warm March led to early bud break, followed by April frosts that reduced the crop in some north coasts regions. May and June were warm, but the weather turned cool again in July and August, slowing the ripening process, which was reignited by an early September heat wave. These conditions enabled us to produce a small quantity of superb Napa Valley Syrah.
The grapes for this wine came primarily from the renowned cool-climate region of Carneros in southern Napa Valley, which is heavily influenced by breezes and fog emanating from nearby San Pablo Bay. One of the vineyards is planted with four French clones of the Syrah grape, each producing small-berried clusters with intense fruit characteristics. The grapes were hand-harvested between September 18th and October 2nd with an ideal balance of sugars and acid.
Eighty percent of the grapes were crushed while 20% were retained as whole clusters. The juice and whole berries, inoculated with a variety of yeast strains, fermented together in small, open-top fermenters with daily punch-downs to ensure complete maceration of skins and juice. After fermentation and an extended maceration, the wine was transferred to French oak barrels, 75% new, where it aged 14 months before bottling in January 2003.
Our 2001 Carneros Syrah, produced in very limited quantities,
displays a dark, almost opaque color, with intriguing aromas of black
fruits, figs, chocolate and mixed spices. On the palate, the wine boasts
a smooth, silky texture, rich, spicy, black fruit flavors, and a firm,
compact structure. Delicious now, it will gain further complexity with
several years' additional bottle age.