Santa Maria Valley
As much as ever in this vintage, Bien Nacido Syrah shows that way of being fruit-filled and definitively non-fruity, exuberant and brooding. F. Scott Fitzgerald said “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” In that way this Syrah has always been a wine for intelligence, without compromising on deliciousness.
Like in many of our vineyards, 2015 was a tough year for the vines at Bien Nacido. Four years of drought had the roots unflushed and stressed, and an extended cold front during flowering made for a small crop. What we got in the end was a vintage that made for some of the most delicious fruit we’ll remember for years.
As we’ve done in most of our Syrah lately, we’ve nudged the amount of whole-cluster fruit upward in this wine. Pumping juice over intact berries makes them ferment from within (carbonically), providing an effect where the fruit floats as it saturates the palate, while grip and contour comes from spicy stem tannin and the gravelly minerality that comes from Bien Nacido.
Aromas come on with many of the usual suspects from Bien Nacido—cured meat, purple flowers, rock dust—but also a concentrated fruity exuberance that tilts toward liqueur. It drinks with that same balance, coming on with an lavish blanket of dark fruits before gaining pitch and lengthening into a smoky savory beauty, closing out late with those cool-climate notes of herby tapenade, wood smoke and peppery meat crust. The forward feel will have many drink this sooner than later, but for peak rapture age this for several years, at least.
Blend: 100% Syrah | Alc: 13.0% | Vinification: traditional open top fermentation with 20% whole clusters | Barrel Aging: 22 months in French oak barrels, 25% new | Total Production: 236 cases
“Deeper colored than the 2016 Syrah Santa Barbara County, the 2015 Syrah Bien Nacido is getting up there in rarified air and is possibly the finest Syrah I’ve tasted from the estate. Thrilling notes of crème de cassis, blackberries, spring flowers, and bacon fat all soar from the glass. With full body, building yet ultra-fine tannins, a stacked mid-palate, and truly awesome purity, it certainly makes the best of this vintage and is a tour de force in Syrah that readers owe it to themselves to taste! It’s going to cruise in the cellar for upward of two decades.” Jeb Dunnuck – 97 Points
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
“The 2015 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard is a powerful, explosive wine. A rush of smoke, incense, tobacco, dark plum and leather gives the 2015 its decidedly exuberant personality. Although the 2015 is quite expressive today, readers will have to wait a few years for the full range of Syrah aromatics to develop.There is so much to like.” 2020-2030 – AG 93 points