Spice will turn America to Syrah

The Best Article on Stolpman Ever On February 5th, Author Evan Dawson published perhaps the most spot-on article about Stolpman Vineyards written in our 24 year history. He interviewed Sashi and I for the story and ended up taking the angle that the extremely high prices of Cote Rotie and Hermitage will lead wine connoisseurs to drink Stolpman.
I can’t pop $120-$380 bottles of Cote Rotie nightly. Instead, I buy more Saint Joseph Rouge. With the right vintage and the right producer, St. Joe Syrahs will sometimes match Stolpman Estate Syrah value. But because St. Joseph Syrahs and the more expensive Cote Rotie, Hermitage, and Cornas are lighter in body than even the most elegant Ballard Canyon Syrahs, consumers rarely view them as peers.


As I digested the article, a different revelation crept into my brain. It started New Year’s Eve and it crystalized the day after Evan published his article. Jessica and I were in Texas working with our distributor and I had a lunch meeting with Sommelier Sean Beck.
Sean lamented the fact that so many Texans will only drink Cabernet Sauvignon with spicy Texan cuisine. He told me about a Cabernet vertical tasting he recently attended where the first dish’s chilies over-powered the wine and threw off his palate so he couldn’t enjoy the rest of the cabs.
Sean’s account brought me back to December 31, 2013 when I showed up to a New Year’s party with a few bottles of 2011 Faury St Joseph Rouge. Being a casual pot-luck gathering, I didn’t know what was in store for the main course. I couldn’t go by Peter Neptune’s cardinal rule, “when in doubt, pair with Champagne” as I knew we were going to drink tons of bubbles later in the evening.
It turned out our host that night had just returned from New Orleans and spent all day making a giant vat of Jambalaya. Sloshed over a ball of rice in a giant coffee mug, the hearty feast was perfectly spiced. I felt the piping hot nourishment hit my belly and prepare me for the long night of revelry in front of us.
But then I reached for my glass of St. Joseph, and I couldn’t taste it.
I shrugged it off. Jambalaya over-powered the delicate French wine.
Flash forward a month and a half to our Houston lunch table, when Sean observed, “Stolpman Syrah can handle spice”.

With heightened concentration while remaining bright and fresh, Ballard Canyon Syrah might be one of the most relevant wines to match evolving American taste.
One could argue that sweet counters spice, and therefore any riper new world red wine pairs with spice. However, I think the American palate is also progressing away from our traditional sugar crazed Coca-Cola culture and towards finer balance in both food and drink. Americans will tire of big, over-ripe, monolithic wines and trade for more subtlety and nuance. Ballard Canyon will be here waiting for this nationwide epiphany.