Santa Maria Valley

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Coming off the bravado of the drought-stressed 2015 release, our 2016 Bien Nacido Syrah shows a different kind of intensity. 2015 gave painfully low yields and lots of sunshine, whereas 2016 gave an extended veraison thanks to cool, ocean-driven breezes and fog. Both traits, though poles of each other, mark vintages with intense flavor.

In this case 2016 provided sexy and sleek Bien Nacido Syrah. It renders some of that coveted Northern Rhone intricacy with meaty, Earth-scored fruit, which comes as a swift current of sweeter red flavors streaked by cooler, bluer notions of cassis. What’s different coming off four drought vintages now is an especially lithe and focused feel. The voluminous fruit in the 2015 (which admittedly made a compelling wine for premature drinking) is flipped into a locomotive push into the fascinating layers of game and spice.

Your head goes to that scent of spices blooming their essence as rubbed-up red meat browns over coals, with coriander and peppercorns weeping their pungent essence over smoke. Those more bassy and carnivorous elements are buoyed, per usual, by floral and minty treble that lifts the wine start to finish. This bottling is a classic representation of the mature vines on the sun mottled hillside of Bien Nacido—exuberant, savory and deeply mineral. Decant it for now, or if you happen to have a child/niece/nephew born in 2016, be cool and tuck some of this away for when they turn 21.

Blend: 100% Syrah | Alc: 13.9% | Vinification: traditional open top fermentation with 12% whole clusters | Barrel Aging: 22 months in French oak barrels, 15% new | Total Production: 312 cases