Black Bear Block Syrah
2009 Black Bear Block Syrah, Estate Bottled Santa Ynez Valley
The Black Bear Block is a single 3 ½ acre block planted in 1978 on its own roots from cuttings brought over from Chapoutier in Hermitage region of the Northern Rhône. Named for the many black bears that live around our vineyard, Black Bear Block was the first Syrah planted in Santa Barbara County and is now the oldest remaining Syrah vineyard on the Central Coast.
Growing Season and Harvest
After a dry, cold winter, the vines were a little slow waking up in the spring, about 4 weeks later than usual. Spring was very mild, but sunny. It finally started to warm up around the 4thof July and stayed nice through the end of September with the usual heat wave around Labor Day. Harvest came about 4 weeks late as well. We started and finished in October. Yields were light due to the cold start but the quality was exceptional.
After hand harvesting, the grapes were destemmed and placed into small open top bins to ferment with native yeast. During the month-long fermentation, the skins were punched-down by hand twice a day to extract rich color and fine tannins. Once dry, the wine was placed into new French oak barrels for 21 months to age.
This wine displays rich blackberry, cassis, mocha, cedar and our signature sage spice aromas and flavors. Powerful, yet elegant, this wine coats the palate, and the finish lingers with sophisticated tannins and exquisite fruit. This full-bodied wine should be enjoyed over the next ten years.
“If the first duty of a wine is to be delicious, this tiny production bottling succeeds beyond all measure. The Black Bear Block is almost always Zaca Mesa's best Syrah among its many releases, and so it is again in 2009. Take one sip and you're dazzled by the refined tannins, dryness and complexity of flavors: blackberry, cassis, plum sause, mocha, bacon, smoky oak, white pepper, chamomile tea and licorice. What's harder to express is the sheer pleasure of the mouthfeel. This is an exciting Syrah, and may just be at the beginning of a long journey. Drink now and for many years as it slowly changes.—S.H.” 96 Points, Wine Enthusiast, February 2013.
“Delivers a pure, rich, spicy mix of peppery wild berry, cedar, dried herb and underbrush flavors, firming nicely on the long, full finish. Drink now through 2022. —J.L.” 92 Points, Wine Spectator December 2012.
"Very ripe, highly extracted and favoring Syrah's somewhat gamy side with dark berry fruit and a touch of dusty soil spice in the mix, Zaca Mesa's Black Bear Block bottling is a big, full-bodied Syrah that combines heft with a nice bit of polish. Rounded but balanced and tending ever so slightly to dryness and heat at the finish, it stops short of being too much and earns the nod for its depth and sheer richness." One-puff, 88 points, Connoisseur's Guide to California Wine, July 2012
"Firm, intense and spicy, with rich blackberry, hot brick, cedar, graphite and sage notes. Full-bodied and tannic, combining to give the flavors traction and depth. Drink now through 2022. -- JL" Score 90, Wine Spectator, 10 California Syrahs Posted November 21, 2011.
"The 2006 Syrah Black Bear Block is one of Zaca Mesa's more seriously endowed wines. It is aged for 21 months in new French oak. Dense ruby/purple, with loads of spice, lard, oak, black cherries, and black currants, the wine is much more meaty, smoky, and earthy. With excellent complexity and richness, this wine should drink well for up to a decade." 89+ Points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, August 2010.
“This is always a great bottling, and Zaca Mesa’s 2006 Black Bear Block goes to the head of the line in newly released California Syrahs. It’s an enormously rich wine, filled to the brim with pure blackberries, currants, cocoa and peppery-spiced oak, and the finish turns to milk chocolate. But it’s dry. The 2006 vintage was a very good one for Zaca Mesa’s various Syrahs, and this is their best.” 94 Points, Wine Enthusiast, April 2010.
"Made from 100% Syrah, this wine shows Zaca Mesa's house style of exceptionally ripe, heady fruit flavors tucked into a balanced, dry wine. It's as lush as velvet in the mouth, with complex flavors of blackberries, anise, cocoa and black pepper. Feels soft and light and yet powerful and insistent at the same time. Drink now - 2013. SH" 93 points, Wine Enthusiast, November 2011.