Estate Syrah Vertical : 2001 to 2010

Estate Syrah embodies Stolpman Vineyards in a single wine. After all, Sashi Moorman blends almost every clone from our 92 acres of Syrah into the Estate Bottling.

As our flagship wine, we make darn sure that Estate Syrah gives our customers one of the best quality-to-value ratios in the entire world of wine. Over the past 10 vintages, the crop yields averaged under 1.5 tons per acre, the grapes are ”micro” handpicked at night, naturally fermented in small two ton lots, and bottled un-fined and un-filtered.

Because of our devotion to natural winemaking, the wine sometimes takes months after bottling to unfurl. We always guarantee that Estate Syrah will become more and more deliciously complex and layered with a few years of age. We decided to test our hypothesis and taste through a vertical of Estate Syrah. If you’re ever in a hurry while selecting a bottle of older Stolpman from your stash, reference our color coded Vintage Chart frequently updated under our wines section of the website!

Sitting down with Sashi over lunch, we bit off a history lesson in his wine making experiences, not just a casual wine tasting of “oh, I like this one”.

2001

We began with Sashi’s first vintage with Stolpman when he employed 100% new French Oak. As Sashi got to know the vineyard better, each subsequent vintage he would decrease the use of New Oak to allow the wines to further express the terroir. Back in 2001, only the Durrell and Estrella clones from Block 2, now considered “Originals” blocks, were blended for Estate Syrah. Block 6 was not yet mature, and all of block 5 was being sold to wineries including Sine Qua Non, Ojai Vineyards, Jafffurs, and Qupe. In 2001, a whopping 98 cases were produced! (Also the last year of the retro label created in 1997)

The 2001 drinks exceptionally smooth and mellow. Black fruits, mulberry, with a coating red finish, the oak is still present even 10 years after bottling. The fruit profile is fresh and clean and might be nearing its plateau, and might get even better! Exceptional balance.

2002 was known as a difficult vintage with poor set throughout California. Sashi still couldn’t get a whole lot of Syrah fruit because a lot of winemakers had 3 year contracts with Dad.

The 2002 shows its Oak, as still a high % of new French wood was employed by the young Sashi. It’s a massive wine but less focused than the 2001 with not quite the silky finish. Still will age well for a couple years, and would probably taste perfectly if it wasn’t being judged against its older brother.

In 2003 Sashi beat off some of the Syrah grape purchasers to take back a large portion of Block 5. Sashi pissed off a lot of older winemakers who loved our fruit, and I would do this all over again when I took over fruit contracts in 2008.

A great balance between cold climate and warm climate syrah. Very grippy and a younger profile than both 2001 and 2002. Very cool mocha cocoa texture that I love!  Block 6 also came on line so 2003 saw the first production jump.

2004 was the warm, opulent break out year when Stolpman became a hit sensation.

Tiny crop, killer wines. Seductive, yet with a full body. Beautiful roundhouse punch on the mid-palate. Picked very ripe, shows on the nose. Woodsy, dark and almost overwhelmingly rich and intense. This wine is pretty spectacular for those with a California palate.

 

2005 – Truly enjoyable wine. The mocha notes of the 2003 return. Grenache was added for the first time, lending a sweet high tone that is hard not to find appealing. Sashi says that the Grenache was really, really good that year and he couldnt resist blending a bit into the Estate Syrah! 2005 saw another jump in production thanks to the bountiful harvest.

The 2005 also returns to the bright, fresh profile of 2001, more Northern Rhone than Cali in style.

2006 was my first vintage selling Stolpman wines on the wholesale market which was incredibly difficult because it was such a tightly wound vintage, AND the economy had crashed exactly upon the wine’s release in October of 2008. The once austere tannin has now smoothed out but is still very-present, delivering a nice tang effect.

Ruby red candy nose, friendly and pleasing, a bottle you want to cuddle up with and read a good book. Such a big difference than the stark, austere wine it was when it was young. 2006 definitely could use some more time and it might transition from friendly to sexy.

2007 – Really intriguing nose. The fruit profile hits a whole new level of freshness, further steering away from traditional California style.

Vervy, fresh berry bite from the whole cluster viognier addition! Aggressive wine with a lot of tension. The tannin thrown off by the viognier stems mellows after opening for a few hours, meaning this wine needs more time!

Graphite, depth. Taste the richness of the pulpy, small grapes. 2008 was a late vintage due to April frost and the wines are very concentrated. Drinking young but wonderfully. 2008 was a high-toned tannic monster upon release and now has grown into a voluptuous, rich wine with hints of lavender flower petals.

2009 – Great vintage up and down the coast. Earthiest of all the Syrahs. Sashi continued the drop off in new oak usage to allow for more vineyard aromas.

Rust and graphite and iron along with fruit on the nose. Layer after layer slowly develop hours after popping the cork. The wine is still shy and needs time.

Beautiful red fruit tight rope present throughout the palate, just barely present above hints of leather, meat, and forest floor. Drops of juice from perfectly fresh red berries drop on my palate from start to finish.

In Sashi’s words, the 2010 is “easy”. It’s just too easy to love, too easy to appreciate and enjoy. Tasting through all of these vintages and recounting the challenges mother nature threw at us over the years, the journey certainly wasn’t easy, so it’s nice that the result is!