This holiday season I’ve selected three wines that have all reached that magical time when they are “ready,” that is, the wines have been integrated with bottle age and are at their peak. Given these wines’ current flavor profiles, and the history of Stolpman wines and aging, each of them should remain on this plateau for at least 8-10 more years.
Unlike our typical releases, when we debut wines from our most recent harvests, come the holidays, we should all be enjoying wines at their absolute best! I hope you cherish these bottles with family and friends as we will be doing at our winter celebrations! Enjoy, Tom Stolpman
Our first Grenache was made in 2006. For several years, it was a wine which needed very little bottle age to enjoy it young and then watch it develop more complexity with bottle age. When we discovered the benefits of whole cluster fermentation for Grenache, some thought the wines had lost the “silkiness” which many folks were attracted to in earlier vintages. As the woodiness from the vines’ stems has integrated with the wine—much like what occurs with reds aged in new oak barrels, the tannins have softened, allowing the silk to come forward. It retains its black cherry/garnet color, and the tannins follow the middle of the palate. The 2012 vintage was the first to be bottled under the newly minted Ballard Canyon AVA – many believe the cool climate here produces Grenache wines of even more significance than our world-class Syrah!
2013 Originals Syrah
Blocks 1 and 2 in the northwest corner of the Stolpman Vineyards, sit on limestone soils (like the rest of the vineyard, but several acres also have a sandstone layer below the clay loam top-soils. As we expected, this combination of soils gives the Originals Syrah austerity and elegance, a hallmark of wines grown on limestone, along with earthiness, and some would even call it “smokiness” or “sea brine,” that I detect on the nose. 2013 was a more restrained vintage than 2012 or 2014, and that restraint shows in the wine, and blossoms into full richness as the wine opens up. This is a wine I like to taste over an evening—with both my entrée and for sipping after dinner, to enjoy it as one would patiently watch a rose petal open into full blossom on a warm spring day!
2014, along with 2012 and 2016, are vintages which focus on opulence and richness in the wines. The 2014 Angeli leads that parade. The wine was excellent on release, but almost two years of bottle age have allowed the wine (2/3 of the clusters were left intact during fermentation, when the flavor profile of the wine develops) to mature and become a fully developed luxury wine. It shows rich black fruit and complexity only seen in Syrah grown at top sites, in cool climates and with low yields, and then are made by a winemaking team which sees that the vineyard shines through to the glass. As we wrote in our release notes, “It’s delicate and pretty while powerful and lasting.” As with Originals Syrah, this is a wine which proves that Syrah is terroir sensitive, reflecting the limestone soils in the Angeli Block atop a ridge line on the eastern part of the vineyard. 2014 Angeli provides all of the weight and gravitas of a top cult Napa Valley blend, but without the sweet new oak, and with the bonus of complexity and nuance only achieved by picking tiny, dry-farmed grapes at the height of ripeness after a perfectly moderate growing season. Certainly one of the very best Angeli wines we have ever made!