2018 Bien Nacido Syrah
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The Bien Nacido Vineyard has been a bellwether for Santa Barbara County Syrah for decades. We are fortunate to work with two of the best Syrah vineyards planted at Bien Nacido — X and Z blocks. X block was planted in 1973 (originally own-rooted Riesling) and grafted on request to Syrah by Bob Lindquist and Randall Graham (both pioneers of California Syrah). Z block was planted in 1992 to the Estrella selection of Syrah on a high elevation bench facing southwest to the Pacific Ocean.
The Santa Maria Valley Syrah is our most restrained and elegant Syrah. The nose is reserved but will blossom with cellaring. Subtle aromas of roasted chestnuts, black pepper and rhubarb are followed on the palate by layers of silky tannins that finish with flavors of Black Tartarian cherries, California Bay, pine resin and smoked salt.
These are the oldest Syrah vines that we work with — a detail that we hold in very high esteem. Older vineyards ripen more slowly, keeping the potential alcohol lower, which brings elegance to the wine. The Bien Nacido vineyard is also located in a cooler microclimate with more marine layer influence, which keeps the wine savory and less fruity. The saltiness in this wine is a true character of ocean influenced wines and marries beautifully with the sappy and sweeter flavors in this grape.
Decanting and patience are recommended for this wine. The complexities in this Syrah take several hours to reveal themselves fully, but are well worth the wait.