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Beyond Terroir - Zaca Mesa's 2008 Syrah released

If the term terroir refers to the growing conditions of a specific place, then Zaca Mesa Winery’s 2008 Syrah is an example of super-terroir.  Encompassing not only the estate vineyards of the oldest Syrah vines on original root stock on the Central Coast, but the work of dozens of hands and the nuances of a challenging growing season, the 2008 Syrah is a wine with a unique personality that brings a convergence of several factors sharply into focus.

During the growing season of 2008, most Santa Ynez Valley vines battled frost in late spring, showers and heavy wind during bloom, a 100º+ heat spike in June, and another cold snap in mid-October dangerously close to harvest.  While the inclement weather resulted in a far smaller yield at Zaca Mesa Winery, it also resulted in highly concentrated, quality fruit and a powerful yet elegant finished wine.  “This Syrah has great extraction, depth and color,” says winemakerEric Mohseni of the 2008 vintage.  “Though the frost gave us a smaller than average crop, it translated to berries with great concentration and early flavor development.”

“Zaca Mesa is more susceptible to vintage variation because we single-source from our estate,” points out President and CEO of Zaca Mesa, Brook Williams.  “But that makes it more interesting because the wine reflects the personality of the vintage.”

The Syrah harvest in 2008 was brief, due to the reduced yield.  After sorting, the grapes were de-stemmed and placed in small open-top bins for several days’ cold soak and then fermentation.  While fermenting, the rising grape skins were punched down twice-daily for color, flavor, and tannin extraction.  The wine was then aged in French oak barrels (35% new) for 16 months.

The 2008 Syrah elicits the same graceful, woodsy aromas of blackberry, cassis, espresso, mocha, and signature sage spice as previous vintages, though more intense and focused.  The consistently silky finish lingers due to ripe tannins and a thread of smoky oak.  Delicious pairings include spice-rubbed grilled lamb shanks with sweet potato fries, a hearty Mexican dish such as black bean and Chimayo chile pulled pork tacos, or filet mignon with a rich balsamic glaze.

Zaca Mesa Winery, located in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, California, is dedicated to estate grown and bottled Rhône varietal wines. They hand craft their wines with integrity using traditional methods from grapes sustainably grown in their vineyard.  Since 1973, they have farmed and nurtured their vineyard to produce wines that are true to the unique spirit of their land.

Posted on: Jun 23, 2011