The 2002 vintage was remarkably even and consistent. Flowering occurred normally in mid-May, and mild temperatures prevailed throughout the growing season, with few heat spikes and no rain, insuring the fruit ripened evenly and attained full maturity. The grapes for our 2002 Syrah were harvested between September 30th and October 7th at ideal ripeness levels.
The grapes for this wine came from vineyards in the cool-climate district of Carneros in southwestern Napa Valley, a region heavily influenced by breezes and fog from nearby San Pablo Bay. Syrah grown in cool-climate regions, as in France's Northern Rhone Valley, typically offers intense, complex varietal characters and classic structure for extended aging.
Seventy-five percent of the grapes were crushed and de-stemmed, while 25% were preserved as whole clusters. It was then fermented in a combination of small open-top fermenters and closed tanks. This includes being "punched down" daily to submerge and macerate the cap of skins, which ensures the thorough extraction of color and flavor. We also enhanced extraction by utilizing the rack-and-return procedure, in which the tank is drained of juice, allowing the skins to fall to the bottom. The juice is then splashed back into the tank, over the skins, to further extract color and flavor while softening tannins. After nine months' barrel aging in 70% new French oak, the lots were blended, aged an additional five months in seasoned barrels, and bottled in December 2003.
Our 2002 Carneros Syrah, produced in very limited quantities, displays a dark, almost opaque color and a mesmerizing, remarkably layered aroma of wild blueberries, black plums, black figs, roasting meat and coffee. The wine's dense, deep, black fruit and toasty, wild boysenberry flavors pick up an intriguing chocolate-y tinge in the rich, lingering finish. This weighty, intensely flavored, complex red wine is delicious now with grilled red meats and other hearty fare, but will handsomely reward 5-7 years of cellaring.