My absolute favorite quality of Syrah is its unique way of self-expressing based on its environment and the sheer duplicity of variations you can encounter from just one variety of grape. 2018 was a markedly cool and wet vintage for much of California, a welcomed reprieve less than 2 years out of the last drought, producing wines that were clear outliers for what we would call “typical”. Syrah from our temperate pocket of Paso Robles in 2018 found itself expressing in a way that you expect from a cool-climate region, such as Santa Maria Valley or the Santa Rita Hills.
Smokey and woody jumps out first in the form of cedar and cigar box with chargrilled, rare steak providing savory support to an otherwise earthy first glance. Bramble and reduced blueberry offer up an attempt at warm climate expression but quickly evolves into sticky blackberry pie and vanilla-flavored cigar that lead you right back to a backdrop of charred oak and sweet anise. The wine proceeds on the palate with an immediate pop of acidity on the entry that flashes juicy cranberry and cherry cola with a dark chocolate exterior. Textured evenly with a moderate weight, the tannin is a conundrum of typical silky-smooth edges but a tense and tactile core that drinks more like Northern Rhône than Southern. Pomegranate seed and fresh plum release as a sweet effluence from the center of the wine while savory carries the wine to the finish with flavors of smoked brisket alongside allspice and black pepper.