Syrah "Barsotti Ranch"


Notes from Steve:

It’s likely that every grape variety has a favorite soil in which to grow, one that permits the most felicitous expression of each grape’s peculiar nature. Soils derived from decomposed granite seem to bring out the best from both Gamay and Syrah. We established a planting of Gamay at the Barsotti Ranch, in the hills north and east of Placerville, starting in 2007. The Barsotti property is on a pretty big swath of granite, the boundaries of which extend beyond the property lines in several directions.

A few years after the first Gamay at Barsotti was planted, a neighboring parcel was purchased by the Barsottis, which included an old block of Syrah that had been abandoned. The abandoned vines suffered from several years’ neglect, but they responded to renewed attention, and by 2013 were back to productivity, carrying a modest crop. Some of those grapes went into our 2013 North Canyon Road Syrah. If I were to attempt to characterize the contribution the Barsotti grapes made to that wine, I’d be inclined to say it firmed up the structure in the blend.

In 2014 the vines carried, again, a modest crop, and as the ripening began to unfold, I walked numerous rows in the block, and was struck by a flavor characteristic in the grapes that surprised me: iron. As pleasing as the fruity side of the taste of wine grapes can be, this taste of iron was utterly captivating and compelling. I decided, on the spot, that I would make a Syrah in 2014 only from these grapes, so that I might know the taste of the vineyard better!

WINEMAKING NOTES:  The Syrah grapes were picked on the 2nd of September, at an average Brix of 20.4.  All the grapes were de-stemmed into half-ton bins, skins were punched down twice daily during fermentation. At dryness the wine was pressed into French barrels that had previously held 13 vintages. After spontaneous malolactic fermentation, the wine remained in barrels until mid-March, when it was transferred into stainless. It was racked in June, and bottled in July of 2015. Alcohol 11.9%

WINEMAKERS TASTING NOTES:  Typically dark color, still showing a bit of purple (1/24/18). Classic Syrah aromas: smoke, cracked pepper, black and red fruit, and at the center, that same iron noticeable in the taste of the grapes. Youthful, quite fresh, with a brisk high note, faintly suggestive of  roses. Energetically very tense in the mouth, slightly bloody (that iron!) and ever so vaguely feral. Finishes long and firm with beguiling tannins. Given its sleek and coiled energy, this is a wine to be reckoned with for a good long time.


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