Santa Barbara County
The Thompson syrahs have been some of the most difficult wines to understand because they are so big and blocky in their youth. It’s telling that when we serve up a tasting of all the bottled vintages (1997 to 2005) the most compelling and complete wines are the 1997s and 1998s. The others are all terrific, but they also need more time to fully express themselves.
That being said, we have been tweaking the style of this most age-worthy wine to gain some earlier accessibility. In 2002 we started blending a small amount of grenache with the syrah to enhance the brooding aromatics of Thompson, and to give it a little more freshness on the palate. We did the same in 2003, and then in 2004 we blended substantial amounts of both grenache and mourvedre which transformed the Thompson into a more interesting and complex wine. This 2004 was hard as nails in the barrel, but extra barrel aging and an additional racking really softened its substantial tannins. While it’s a wine that will continue to evolve for the next ten years, it shows beautifully today if decanted 24 hours in advance of tasting.
Blend: 100% Syrah | Alcohol: 14.5% | Vinification: 20% New French Oak | Barrel Aging: 22 Months
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
Wine Advocate #177 Jun 2008
“The 2004 Syrah Thompson Vineyard offers attractive beefy, blackberry, currant, and damp earth characteristics, medium to full body, moderately high tannin, outstanding purity, and very good depth and texture.” – RP 93 Points
Wine Advocate #172 Aug 2007
“The fabulous 2004 Syrah Thompson exhibits aromas of forest floor, roasted meat, espresso roast, blackberries, and blueberries. Aromatically, it is stunningly rich, full, and heady. In the mouth, it is more restrained. While it possesses plenty of aging potential, it requires more time in the bottle to strut its stuff. It should certainly be as good as some of its siblings, and I would have no problem drinking it at present, although I am sure Adam Tolmach believes it needs 5-6 years of cellaring. It will last for 10-15 years … at the minimum.
A recent vertical tasting of all the Thompson Syrahs offered some wonderful surprises. The sensational 2003 (rated 93) was a powerful, opulent, nearly over the top Syrah (the type of wine Tolmach supposedly despises). It’s a great wine in the making. The 2002 (rated 89?) seemed somewhat monolithic and closed, but the 2001 (rated 95) was fabulous, with great intensity, and notes of charcoal, tapenade, blackberries, and creosote. The 2000 Thompson Special Bottling (rated 94+) behaved like a spicy, leather and black fruit-dominated Pauillac, with huge structure, fabulous concentration, and a long finish. The 1999 (rated 93) offered a beautiful nose of flowers, black fruits, espresso beans, and licorice. Rich, broad, savory, and long, it was stunning. The 1998 (rated 91) came across like a top-notch French Hermitage. Herbal with black olive notes intermixed with black cherries and cassis, it could easily be mistaken for a top vintage of Jaboulet’s Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Thalabert. The 1997 Syrah Henry David (named after Adam’s son) was rated 94. At ten years of age, it is a fabulous wine exhibiting notes of licorice, creosote, plum sauce, blackberries, and smoke. This meaty, chewy, full-bodied, fleshy Syrah coats the palate, stains the teeth, and is still a youngster in terms of development. It should drink well for another 10-15 years or more.” – RP 94 Points
Wine Advocate #166 Aug 2006
“The 2004 Syrah Thompson Vineyard displays a deep ruby/purple color, abundant richness and intensity, more tannin and structure than the Roll Ranch, and good body as well as length. It offers aromas and flavors of white chocolate, cassis, and flowers.” – RP (89-91 Points)
Stephen Tanzers International Wine Cellar
“Inky purple. Ripe blackberry and blueberry on the nose, with gentle smokiness and pungent herbs adding complexity. Ripe and fleshy, with deep dark berry liqueur flavors and a distinctly chewy texture. There’s nothing hard about this syrah but it has serious structure and power too. Finishes long and sweet, with the smoky quality repeating.” – JR 92 Points