Santa Maria Valley
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This syrah comes from my 20th harvest from our rows in Z-block at Bien Nacido. Z-block is the original hillside planting of syrah at Bien Nacido, so it bundles together the virtues of mature vines, cool climate, well-drained soils, and a south-west exposure that bathes the vines in that special (never scorching) Santa Maria Valley sunshine.
Cool sites like Bien Nacido show a lot of differences from vintage to vintage, but one can expect a common thread running through each vintage, too. Here that’d be the ethereal and woodsy aroma of peppercorn, flowers, and herbal, ferrous animal notes that frames this wine from year to year.
2014 was a drought year that was warm overall, but one that spared us of any unfortunately timed or excessive heatwaves. So the fruit provided exuberance without any expense of freshness and minerally cut. This wine provides focused flavors of cassis and dark cherries, plus all those deliciously savory signatures of cool climate syrah: smoked meat, spices, violets, and herb-marinated green olives.
Much of that could be said of the previous 2013, but that vintage’s syrah is more coiled up and tense, while this 2014 is more outward and open-knit now. Though cellar-able as always, this Bien Nacido syrah impresses from the get-go with that wild, mysterious nature of gently ripened cool climate syrah.
Blend: 100% Syrah | Alc: 13.0% | Vinification: traditional open top fermentation with 15% whole clusters | Barrel Aging: 20 Months in French Oak, 30% New | Total Production: 374 cases
“One of the gems is the 2014 Syrah Bien Nacido, and it has the classic minerality, tapenade, violets and pepper of both the vineyard, and high-quality Syrah. Medium-bodied, fresh, elegant and lively, it shows off vibrant acidity and stunning purity. It will keep for a decade.”- JD 94 Points
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
“A powerful, meaty wine, the 2014 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard packs a real punch. Hints of lavender, plum, herbs and leather emerge, but only with considerable reluctance. Readers will have to be especially patient with this structured, tannic young Syrah, but there is quite a bit to look forward to. The 2014 was done with 15% whole clusters.” – AG 94 points
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“The 2014 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard is youthfully promising, wafting from the glass with a youthfully reserved bouquet of dark berries, grilled meat, tapenade and cracked pepper. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, with excellent concentration and a lovely core of crunchy fruit, but framed by fine-grained, polished tannins that lend this wine a certain elegance. It’s still very primary, so I’d expect this to be long lived. 2019-2035”- William Kelley 93 Points