Carneros Napa Valley
Virtually all the grapes for our 2004 Syrah came from the Carneros district at the southern tip of Napa and Sonoma counties. Syrah grapes grown in a classic cool-climate region like Carneros, as in France northern Rhône Valley, develop intense, complex varietal aromas and flavors, along with the structure required for aging. Appropriately, our Syrah is a blend of five different clones of Syrah, all originating in the Rhône.
In 2004, an unusually warm late winter, consistently mild spring and summer weather, and several late-summer heat spells resulted in one of the earliest Northern California harvests on record. Although the harvest was fast and furious, the early start to the season and lower-than-normal crop loads produced grape clusters with small berries and ripe flavors, yielding wines of impressive depth, concentration and structure. The grapes for our 2004 Syrah were harvested between September 11th and 23rd with an excellent balance of sugar, acid, and ripe tannins.
Eighty-five percent of the grapes were crushed and de-stemmed, while 15% were preserved as whole clusters. Whole-cluster fermentation is a common practice in the Rhône Valley and serves to accentuate the Syrah grape’s wild berry fruitiness, while conventional, crushed-grape fermentation extracts desired color and tannin. Fermentation of our various vineyard lots was conducted in a mix of small, open and closed-top fermenters, with both punchdowns and pumpovers utilized to thoroughly macerate the cap of skins and extract maximum color and flavor from the juice. Once fermentation completed, the separate lots were aged nine months in 58% new French oak barrels before being blended and barrel-aged an additional five months. The blend includes 3% Malbec. The wine was bottled in December, 2005.
Our 2004 Carneros Syrah boasts a dark ruby color and a striking array of enticing aromas ranging from wild blackberry, crushed black raspberry and blueberry to violets, roasted coffee and chocolate. On the palate, the wine is rich and juicy, with smooth, ripe tannins and lovely wild berry, roast coffee and black tea flavors that take on a toasty tone in the wine’s long, savory finish. Delicious now with grilled red meats and other hearty fare, this sumptuous, varietally expressive Syrah will get even silkier and more complex with another 3 to 5 years of bottle age.