More Great Central Coast Rhone Wines: Ballard Canyon Region (AVA)
Panel Tasting at the 2014 U.S. Wine Bloggers Conference
Flowers in Your Syrah?
Floral Syrah usually means added Viognier. This is a traditional practice in Northern Rhone wines. Too much… and the winemaker can create a style that will overpower much of the Syrah character. Several of the wines reviewed here have a very noticeable inclusion of the Viognier flavor profile, for those of you that prefer this style, take note of those mentioned below.
2012 Vintage Wines
2012 Kimsey Syrah
Nose full of floral Viognier. Palate is of bitter chocolate, light black pepper, medium-high tannins with high acidity. Very simple wine profile. The wine is not fruit forward and has a long bitter finish.
2012 Beckmen La Purisima Moutnain Syrah
Nose of butter, black fruits and nail polish. The palate has sweet black plum and blackberry with a mid-palate of dark chocolate. High tannins and medium-high acidity. Good structure. If the idea is to lay this down, there may not be enough fruit to wait out the resolution of the tannins.
2012 Stolpman Vineyards Originals Syrah
Nose is cloyingly sweet, sugary and very floral. The palate is of violets, black fruit and a sweet syrup. A better balance could have been struck here. I prefer a different style of Syrah and Stolpman usually produces wines with a more balanced style. If you are a fan of the big, extracted Australian Shiraz style, this will be a favorite.
2012 Rusack Reserve Syrah
Nose of strong black fruits. The palate followed the nose with the characteristic plum, blackberry and white pepper. A VERY pure, fresh profile. Quite elegant and balanced. Medium finish of slightly bitter dark chocolate. Medium-high tannins with medium-high acidity. Good balance and structure. Well composed for aging.
2010 Vintage Wines
2010 Harrison Clarke Cuvee Charlotte Syrah
Nose is very chocolate with plum, blackberry and leather. The fruit aromas are strong with some interesting added forest floor. The palate reflects the fruit on the nose with some added butter and oak. The wine was very thick and extracted, coating your mouth. Specifically, grainy tannins that will need time to soften, but I have seen this kind of character develop into a very velvety mouth-feel over time. I would love to try this wine in another three years! It may be spectacular! The most interesting of the batch with the most promise.
2010 Larner Estate Syrah
Nose is hot with sweet blackberry and plum fruit flavors. The palate was clean and fresh. I enjoyed the purity of the fruit. High tannins and high acidity. The fruit flavors followed the nose. Nice soft texture. The lack of new oak really allowed the wine to express the character of the fruit.
2010 Jonata Sangre de Jonata Syrah
Nose was floral with a bit of grape candy. The wine had a sweet fruit character that was not too overwhelming. The palate was very soft, with a light texture. The blackberry and plum fruit was in front, along with dark chocolate flavors that showed only a little bitterness. High tannins with high acidity… this will be a beautiful silky wine on maturity. This is refined and elegant today. The most ready to drink now of all the wines tasted.
2012 Buttonwood Sauvignon Blanc
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
93% Sauv Blanc and 7% Semillon. The Semillon is fermented in S.S. and then barrel-aged. The Sauv Blanc is fermented and aged in S.S. Aged on the lees according to winery manager in attendance.
Typical better quality California SB. Grass and citrus on the nose. Solid acidity would contribute to a great pairing with seafood, or salad. The palate is full of lemon and grapefruit, with a touch of butter on the finish. Crisp texture, but with a slightly bigger mouth-feel from the lees.
2013 Riverbench Vineyard & Winery Chardonnay Bedrock Riverbench Vineyard
USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley
100% S.S. and aged on the lees according to winery manager in attendance.
Strong lemon on the nose. Palate of lemon curd with a noticeable finish of banana. Interesting salinity from beginning to end. Strong acidity. The lees soften the crisp mouth-feel somewhat. Good complexity here, if that is your style. I enjoyed this wine.