Santa Maria Valley
bee-en nas-edo see-rah
Drinkable upon release (February 2016), 5-7 years ageability
2012 Syrah, Bien Nacido Vineyard, “X-Block"
$50.00 per bottle / $540.00 per case
$42.50 per bottle / $480.00 per case (Members)
The wine is an Oriental spice-box – sandalwood, pink peppercorn, bacon fat, with maybe a discreet suggestion of black olive. In short, all of the classic signifiers of Syrah. Lean and taut on the palate, built to last. Decantation highly recommended.
94 Points | Planet Grape | "Medium bodied with fine, softly chalky texture balanced by juiciness. Dark earth, tar, iron, dry herb and black pepper notes balance mountain blackberry and black plum fruit. Decant/Aerate/Cellar."
The Syrah from the Bien Nacido Vineyard is truly one of the great treasures of California. It is utterly unique from virtually every other Syrah grown in these parts (many, alas, so drearily alike in predictable ways.) Whether it is (in part) the unique clone found at Bien Nacido (known as the Estrella River selection), or the unique trellising system (a sort of quasi- Geneva Double Curtain) - the enormous number of buds on these vines seems to create a lot of very, very small bunches; it is not inconceivable that the small cluster size itself is a salient factor in the unique flavor profile - or the soil typology, or (most likely) a combination of all of these factors, these grapes and the wine we’re able to make from them consistently knock me out.
Over the years, we’ve gone to using a greater percentage of whole cluster fruit in our Bien Nacido bottlings, and in this vintage, it is approximately 70%. Whole cluster, aka stem-inclusion, is interesting because it changes the fermentation kinetics (slows things doon), as well as adds an interesting flavor component – tannin, spice and just the right (homeopathic) degree of herbal scent, known as garrigue in some parts.
Food Pairing Notes
Pair this wine now with meaty, savory dishes and aged cheeses, including roasted game, smoked meats, aged Gouda or Pecorino, roasts rubbed with Herbes de Provence, or dishes with mushrooms, including truffle.