Santa Maria Valley
Each year I go up to the Santa Maria area to purchase the Dijon 470 clone of Syrah that grows in the upper terrace on Rancho Sisquoc’s “McMurray Bench”. The upper terrace is a crusty old piece of dirt that the grower describes as “concretious”. And thus the plight of the vines: they basically have to eke out an existence growing in a soil that is like cement. It’s a plight that has forced many a great wine to come out of Block 2, where 3 acres of the clone 470 are located. For at least 10 years I have been shouting it from the rooftops—this (in my opinion) is the best Syrah on the Central Coast.
This 2017 bottling continues to lend itself to this principle. As I study it here, in my glass, the opaque, purple liquid offers up heady aromas of black fruits that are like an entanglement of cassis, flowers, and a spice that strikes me a bit like cumin. Not for the faint of heart, its structure is for the long haul, with beautifully palate-coating tannins that are perfectly woven into the fabric of the fruit and the overall mouthfeel. Its central theme has always been concentration, which is a good thing, because I have too many things, too many varieties going on as it is. If I am going to create a place in my portfolio for a Syrah, it has to spectacular and built on power. It’s location, location, location, along with Sisquoc’s well-executed farming, a combination that coaxes out the true nobility of Syrah and keeps my head and heart in the game year after year.