Not only is the Sebastiano Vineyard an impressive site for growing exquisitely textured and minerally Chardonnay, it is also well-suited for producing beautiful cold-climate Syrah. Planted in 2007 for Sashi Moorman, this is the highest elevation Syrah vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills and is therefore on nutrient deficient clay and limestone soils and entirely exposed to the brutal ocean winds. While very different from the Northern Rhône regions of Cornas and Crozes-Hermitage, the cold and windy climatic conditions are very similar.
When Syrah is grown in a cold extreme place like this, it becomes extremely aromatic with purple flowers, briary fruit, black pepper and black olive nuances. In our case, these gorgeous aromatics are further accentuated because the wine was fermented entirely as whole-cluster in a 4-ton concrete fermenter, and then aged for almost two years in a 581 gallon neutral Foudre – none of which are common practices in the U.S.
The results are serious with incredible complexity and yet the wine remains fresh, supple and delicious on the palate with at least a decade of life ahead of it. Syrah is going through a renaissance in California because it is finally being planted in the right places, farmed in the correct fashion and approached traditionally in the cellar by Winemakers like Sashi, who were weaned on the compelling wines from the Northern Rhône. 100% whole-cluster. Two years in foudre. 594 Cases. 13.5% alcohol. Dark purple hue with rich and intense aromas of wild blue and black fruits, violets, lilacs, Kalamata olive, peppercorn anise, asphalt and liquid smoke. On the palate, this complexity becomes cohesive and driven with fresh dark brambly fruits, kirschy suppleness and very concentrated flavors. Long-lived and a must decant if drunk in the next 1–3 years.