One hundred percent of the grapes for our 2006 Syrah came from the cool-climate Carneros District at the southern tip of Napa Valley, with 40% from our own Milton Road Vineyard. We have five different clones of Syrah planted at Milton Road, including three originating in France’s northern Rhône Valley, which gives our Syrah an authentic varietal pedigree. Like the northern Rhône, Carneros features a cool, windy climate that promotes the intense, spicy aromas and flavors for which Syrah is celebrated.
The long, cool, 2006 growing season began with a wet winter, which delayed bud break and led to late flowering of the vines. Good weather arrived in June, only to be followed by a sustained heat wave in July. Cooler weather returned in August and continued throughout the harvest season, resulting in a long grape ripening period that fostered mature flavors balanced by bright acidity. We picked our Carneros Syrah grapes late in the season between October 20th and 24th.
We harvested each of our five Syrah clonal selections separately and fermented them in small open-top fermenters, using 20% native yeasts for greater complexity. During fermentation, we used manual punchdowns to thoroughly macerate the cap of skins and extract maximum color and flavor from the juice. Once fermentation completed, the wines were transferred to French oak barrels, 57% new, where they aged for seven months before being blended in May, 2007. The finished wine spent an additional eight months in barrel before bottling in January, 2008.
Our 2006 Carneros Syrah opens with classic varietal aromas of roasted earth and toasted black fruits, with dark chocolate, brambleberry spice and sweet oak tones adding richness and intrigue. In the mouth, the wine’s lush, concentrated, boysenberry and toasted black cherry fruit flavors are enriched by dark chocolate and roast coffee tones, with a briary spiciness asserting itself in the long, savory finish. Although this sumptuous Syrah is delicious now with robust fare, it will gain additional complexity with 3-5 more years in the bottle.