Proof that Cool Climate is the Perfect Climate for Syrah?
Over the past fourteen years, Sashi Moorman has become more confident in our maturing vineyard. Gradually, he has asked Ruben Solorzano to pick earlier in the season. The resulting Syrahs show off our bright, balanced, Limestone-driven fruit profile. In the winery, Sashi slowly decreased the amount of new French Oak and increased percentages of whole-cluster fermentation. This hands-off technique allows our terroir to shine through even more. Vibrant nuance now reigns rather than monolithic ripe fruit flavors and oak.
The new-world Syrah Chasm
Because farmers planted Syrah all over the New World, many consumers have spent the last twenty years thinking that Syrah tastes like jammy Shiraz or smooth, ripe Cabernet-like Napa Valley Syrah. But lately, producers along the coast have been making a different wine. These high-toned Syrahs show off the secondary characters any Northern Rhone Syrah fan loves: violet, sangre-iron, pepper, earth, meat etc.
Our land chose the latter, cool climate style for us. The 2004-2006 Syrahs, years when Sashi let the fruit hang a week or two longer than our current regimen, still showed lively tangerine peel on the nose, mineral-driven mid-palate, up-front acidity, and firm tannin. Our soil and climate dictated the wine’s core profile. The only decision left to us as custodians, is to either try and fight our land for a riper product, or play into what the site naturally wants to give us. It’s not only easier to give in to nature, but now we make wines more accurately representative of our site.
The Smoking Gun
Late last year I came across a Heredity Article finding that Syrah is a third degree relative of Pinot Noir. Genetically, Pinot Noir is either Syrah’s great-grandfather, great-uncle, or cousin.
The fact that Syrah is a descendant of Pinot Noir proves to me that Syrah should be made in a cool climate style. Nobody in the New World will argue that Pinot Noir should be planted in warmer climates, and neither should its close relative.