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K&L Staff Recommendations
Willowbrook is a largely under-the-radar label from Joe Otos, winemaker at Owl Ridge Wines in Sebastopol. We've got some great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from choice vineyards from Willowbrook in the past, and now this Syrah. It comes from the Altes Vineyard, located in the Rincon Valley area in the middle of Sonoma County--not far from the hot Kick Ranch vineyard.
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Another blockbuster is the 2013 Syrah Verna's, which comes from a vineyard located north of the Sta. Rita Hills, near Los Alamos. It was 70% destemmed and aged 10 months in neutral oak. It reveals terrific notes of cassis, peppered meats, blackberries, licorice and wood smoke to go with a full-bodied, ripe, yet beautifully balanced and layered feel on the palate. Given all the Syrahs and Pinot Noirs from Santa Barbara going for three times the price, the quality here is remarkable. In short, it's a no-brainer that will drink nicely for at least another 4 ...Read More »
Praise for the last vintage of this wine from Antonio Galloni: "A rich, boisterous wine, the 2013 Syrah Tous Les Jours is all about fruit and texture. Dark red cherry, plum, black pepper and spice notes are all pushed forward in a Syrah that captures the generous personality of the wines of Santa Ynez. The style is bold and intense, with considerable up-front fruit and terrific overall balance. Once again, the Tous Les Jours delivers superb quality and value." (06/2015)
Arguably the most popular of the co-branded wines with our staff last year was the 2010 version of this wine so it had a lot to live up to this year. The good news is the staff is every bit as excited about it this year and we hope that enthusiasm will rub off on you. Bob Lindquist was more than happy to work with us again this year and put together this 100% Syrah bottling from certified Demeter Bio-Dynamically grown vines in the cool Edna Valley Appellation. Unmistakably Syrah from the first sniff of the nose the bold cracked black pepper, fried bacon,... Read More »
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Opaque ruby. Vibrant dark berry, olive and floral scents are complemented by notes of cracked pepper and smoky Indian spices. Very syrah, offering sweet blackberry, violet pastille and fruitcake flavors braced by juicy acidity. Shows very good clarity and energy on the finish, which features silky tannins and a late note of candied flowers. This is a superb value in elegant California Syrah." (12/2013) K&L Notes: Joey Tensley commented, "This vintage we've done a little something different with the Santa Barbara County blend by bringing the cool climate Mormann V... Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
91 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Syrah bursts from the glass with dark red cherry, plum, smoke, lavender and sweet spices. Ample and juicy on the palate, the 2012 is an excellent choice for drinking over the next few years. The style is soft and fruit-forward, with no hard edges and terrific overall balance. (AG)" (7/2014)90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Tasted from bottle, the 2012 Syrah Santa Barbara County is a year-in and year-out outstanding wine, as well as a smoking value. Loaded with notions of plum, blackberry, licorice, violets, and hints of olive, this medium to full-bodied, delicious, forward Syrah ...Read More »
According to the winery: "From a black grape that makes red wine, the 6th Sense remains a huge player in the Michael David lineup. Super-saturated, big and juicy, it makes a bright, tangy impact. Full of flavor in the same deep-red tones as the aromas, tannins are tame. The mid-palate offers plum and blackberry, with a touch of mulberry."
94 points Wine Enthusiast: "Coming from one of Ballard Canyon’s premiere vineyards, this offers aromas of black cherry, wet black loam and morning dew on sage. The mouthfeel is all silk, and flavors are savory, with elderberries, crushed sage and wild mint." (2/2015)92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "(made with 50% whole clusters and raised in concrete tanks): Opaque ruby. Deeply pitched black and blue fruit aromas are lifted and sharpened by cracked pepper and fresh flowers. Spicy and penetrating on the palate, with juicy blackcurrant and boysenberry flavors framed and lifted by tangy acidity. This suave, powerful, ...Read More »
96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A wine that stood out in my Paso Robles tasting was the 2013 Syrah Nuts and Bolts. Made from 100% Syrah that saw 16 months in 70% new French oak, it's the greatest vintage of this cuvee I've tasted and it offers off the hook notes of creme de cassis, melted licorice, caramelized meats, pepper and crushed flowers. Full-bodied, voluptuous and hedonistic, it's also seamless and balanced, with ultra-fine tannin, no hard edges and blockbuster length. As winemaker Russell From says, "It is a no holds barred expression of Syrah that chases flavor at nearly any ...Read More »
94-97 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Syrah Relentless, which has not yet been bottled, is a blend of 89% Syrah and 11% Petite Sirah. In keeping with this amazing year, it’s full-bodied, juicy, succulent, flamboyant, with blueberry and blackberry fruit galore, lots of glycerin and a massive mouthfeel, but no heaviness or astringency characterize this stunning wine. This should turn out to be a great, great Rhône Ranger when released in a year or so." (10/2014)95 points James Suckling: "This is very fresh and balanced with a dense and silky texture plus lots of violet, berry and hints of sandalwood. It’s full a ...Read More »
Copain's Tous Ensemble wines are approachable, everyday drinkers sourced from fine Mendocino County vineyards. The character is food-friendly and versatile for a pop-and-pour with some pedigree. From the winery: "Our 2012 Tous Ensemble Syrah is a medium-bodied blend of grapes from Mendocino County. The body is lightly textured with medium tannins. Bright acidity accents the palate of dark brambly fruits, hard spices and an earthy core. Drink now, though it will improve over the course of five years."
94 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard boasts tremendous tension and explosive energy. Underlying veins of tannin and acidity, along with a drop of Viognier, give the 2013 much of its freshness. A rush of dark plums, black cherries, mocha, violets, cloves and licorice add nuance on the huge finish. This is a fabulous wine from Steve Beckmen. Steve Beckmen excels with deep, powerful wines. Beckmen's estate vineyards are in Los Olivos and on Purisima Mountain in Ballard Canyon. I was impressed with what I tasted this year. In particular, the 2013 Syrah ...Read More »
90 points Antonio Galloni: "Bright purple. Smoke-accented black and blue fruit aromas are complemented by suggestions of peppery spices and violet: textbook Syrah. Supple and expansive on the palate, offering pliant blueberry and cherry-cola flavors given spine by tangy acidity. Closes sweet and long, with resonating spiciness and harmonious tannins. A joint project of Master Sommelier Sarah Floyd and the Pisoni family, Luli was originally targeted at restaurants for by-the-glass programs. The wines are made by Gary Pisoni's son Jeff at the family's winery in Santa Rosa and the lin ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Another cool-climate style effort, the 2012 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard has lots of smoke, pepper meats, blackberry and marine-like minerality on the nose. Medium+-bodied, tight, concentrated and balanced, with moderate tannin, drink this classy 2012 over the coming 7-8 years. It was fermented with 45% whole clusters and spent 19 months in French oak." (8/2015)
92 points Antonio Galloni: "Glass-staining ruby. Cherry-cola, blueberry, Indian spices and violet on the highly perfumed nose. Sappy and seamless on the palate, offering juicy black and blue fruit flavors and sexy floral pastille and spicecake flourishes. Shows very good energy on the clinging, spice-driven finish, which shows sneaky tannins. In John Alban's opinion his 2011s will be long agers based on the fact that "the cool season preserved acidity and gave small berries, with great skin-to-juice ratios and excellent phenols." The lusher '12s, while starting to show plenty of up ...Read More »
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "... the 2013 Syrah Hocus Pocus offers a funky, earthy bouquet of chocolate-laced dark fruits, old leather and damp earth to go with a beautifully textured, rich and fruit-forward style on the palate. As with the 2012, it’s a prime candidate for drinking over the coming couple of years. (JD)" (8/2014) K&L Notes: From the Winery: "The wine that started it all! The Black Sheep Finds wine project started in 2005 with the very first vintage of Hocus Pocus Syrah. 2013 is the ninth vintage of Hocus Pocus Syrah. I know I said this last year, but this is my favorite vintage y... Read More »
The 2012 Holus Bolus Syrah is sourced entirely from a 5 acre Syrah planting at the edge of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The vines are planted at a high density of 3,000 vines per acre on a windy hilltop. The coolish, sunny and windy weather at this site give the wine lovely spice and fresh acidity. Grapes are fermented with 25% whole clusters. Aged for 15 months in two and three-year-old 350 liter barrels. 750 cases produced. Here are Robert Parker’s, The Wine Advocate, thoughts about the 2012 Holus Bolus Syrah, giving it a score of 91 points, "a se... Read More »
"DuMOL fashions three noteworthy Syrahs which probably receive less attention than they should because of the winery’s high visibility and credibility for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir," according to Robert Parker, who scored the 2012 vintage 94 points in December, 2014. DuMol wines, made by winemaker Andy Smith, are consistently a hit with Wine Spectator and Antonio Galloni, as well.
90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Opaque ruby. Black and blue fruits on the nose, complicated by notes of black cardamom and candied violet. Spicy and precise on entry, then fleshier in the mid-palate, offering sweet blackberry and boysenberry flavors lifted by zesty acidity. The smoky, sweet, clinging finish leaves a note of cracked pepper behind." (5/2012)90 points Wine Enthusiast: "This is a notable wine for its smooth, supple tannins and its intense flavors of black cherry jam, mocha, bacon, black pepper and sandalwood. It’s a full-bodied selection for drinking soon, and be sure to pair it with almost anything i ...Read More »
91 points Wine & Spirits: "Bob Lindquist blends fruit from cool climates like the Santa Maria and Edna valleys with warmer-climate fruit from Paso Robles for this bottling. The 2012 is pretty great, especially considering the price, offering the full range of syrah fruit, from smoky depths to clean blue fruit to lifted floral and peppercorn aromas. It’s lively and gripping, for smoked pork." (10/2014)90 points Antonio Galloni: "Inky purple. Highly perfumed aromas of dark fruit liqueur, potpourri and incense, with a peppery spice quality emerging with air. Juicy blackberry and blueberry flavors are complicate ...Read More »
94 points Wine & Spirits: "Bob Lindquist has been making Hillside Estate since 1994, using fruit from Bien Nacido Vineyard’s Z Block, a sloping, southwest-facing planting on the cool, gravelly Santa Maria bench. It was planted to Lindquist’s specifications in 1992. This iteration feels lean and leafy at first, then it blooms in a graceful, silken thread of complexity, suggesting all sorts of appetizing nuances—cured pork, green peppercorn, charcoal, rose hips, blueberry skin, allspice, mint. In the end, it lands on a cool mineral note that lasts. It’s saturated with flavor but not ...Read More »
91 points Wine Spectator: "Eclectic, eccentric and altogether fun to drink, with aromas of huckleberry and spiced cinnamon opening to zesty, briary flavors of blueberry, smoky grilled anise and cracked pepper. Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Carignane, Mourvèdre, Alicante Bouschet, Black Muscat and Viognier. Drink now through 2021." (1/2015) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A zesty red, with raspberry and smoky licorice aromas and appealing cherry, toasted sage and spice flavors. Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Carignane and Viognier. Drink now through 2019. 3,303 cases made. ...Read More »
93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright purple. Sexy black raspberry and floral aromas are complicated by smoky minerals, Moroccan spices and a hint of licorice. Silky, alluringly sweet dark berry flavors pack a serious punch but come off as almost weightless, with tangy minerality adding spine and back-end cut. Gains weight and power with air and finishes with lingering smokiness and a hint of candied violet. This clocks in at a low 13.4% alcohol but hardly wants for power, depth or ripeness." (5/2011) Wine & Spirits: "A warm Syrah with the caramelized flavors of toasted oak, this is gentle, peppery and ...Read More »
Mick Unti says this about his delicious red: "This 2012 Syrah really illustrates the best attributes of this excellent vintage. It is very dark, with intense blue and blackberry fruit, licorice and spice. It might be the most full-bodied normale Syrah we’ve made in years. If you drink this wine now, you might consider decanting it. I’m counting on this Syrah to age nicely over the next 4 to 7 years."
Jeff Runquist helped to introduce Syrah to the program at J. Lohr Winery when he worked there in the early 1990s. "At the time we were unfamiliar with Syrah, and so we spent quite some time exploring the various styles and flavors this grape produced," according to Runquist. Despite appreciating the "terroir-driven character" of Old World Syrah, with its earthy, flinty, and dusty aromas and flavors, he was smitten with deeply flavored old vine Syrah from McClaren Vale and the Barrosa Valley of South Australia, which he attempts to emulate with his Paso R... Read More »
91 points Wine & Spirits: "Bob Lindquist blends fruit from cool climates like the Santa Maria and Edna valleys with warmer-climate fruit from Paso Robles for this bottling. The 2012 is pretty great, especially considering the price, offering the full range of Syrah fruit, from smoky depths to clean blue fruit to lifted floral and peppercorn aromas. It’s lively and gripping, for smoked pork." (10/2014)90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Inky purple. Highly perfumed aromas of dark fruit liqueur, potpourri and incense, with a peppery spice quality emerging with air. Juicy blackberry and blueberry flavors are complicate ...Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Adam's entry-level Syrah is the 2013 Syrah Santa Barbara County and it's a year in, year out sensational value. It's ruby/purple color is followed by textbook black and blue fruits, violets, salty minerality and cracked pepper-like aromatics. Medium to full-bodied, ripe, textured and seamless, with nicely integrated acidity and a full mid-palate ... (JD)" (8/2015) Antonio Galloni: "Savory herbs leather, tobacco, smoke and cedar are all found in Ojai's Syrah 2013 Santa Barbara. Powerful and intense, especially for an appellation-level bottling, the 2013 shows the more savory ...Read More »
A perennial value-based favorite, Ravenswood's Vintners Blend Shiraz packs big punches full of mulberry, dark chocolate and roasted meats. Made by one of California's iconic producers.
Pinot may be the big star of Santa Barbara, especially since the movie Sideways, after which the Hitching Post and its wines have been very popular indeed. But Syrah...needs care and attention too, you know? And it can only grow--really well, anyway--in these really specific, tucked away corners of the world--like Santa Barbara County. And only the most patient and nurturing of vintners can make great wine out of it. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Syrah's potential...can coax it into its fullest expression.
Connoisseurs Guide: "*One Star* Rich and well-ripened but not going too far and no more than hinting at a bit of chocolate here and there, this generous wine keys in on ample, berry-like fruit and shows a quiet hand with regard to varietal spice. It is fleshy, full and firm, and its fruit stays the course despite toughening tannins at the end. Refinement and beauty likely lie out of its reach regardless of how long it is held, but four or five years of patience should bring it at least a little of each." (11/2014) Wine Spectator: "Racy, if rather dry and tannic, with accents of dried cherry, c ...Read More »
92 points Antonio Galloni: "Brilliant ruby. Smoky, mineral-accented cherry and blackberry on the deeply perfumed nose. Vibrant, tightly wound black and blue fruit flavors pick up floral pastille and cracked pepper nuances with air. Taut and densely packed, finishing with noteworthy energy and length and harmonious tannins. This is still a baby. Making so many different wines from different varieties and vineyards "keeps the mind active," according to Adam Tolmach, and it also "keeps you curious-it's impossible to fall into a rut." Assistant winemaker Fabien Castel noted that Ojai ...Read More »
Inventory: Redwood City
93-95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A great Syrah, the 2013 Syrah Hudson Vineyard from Carneros includes 50% whole clusters and was cofermented with 3% Viognier. Tasting like a California version of a Côte Rôtie, it offers up notes of bacon fat, lard, meaty cassis and black raspberries, and a floral undercurrent. This fabulous, full-bodied, opulent, juicy, succulent, sexy Syrah should age effortlessly for a decade or more." (12/2014) 91-94 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Syrah Hudson Vineyard presents quite a contrast to the Griffin's Lair. Here the style is much more intense and overtly fruit-driven. Black fruit, smoke ...Read More »
92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright purple. Youthfully wound-up aromas of blackberry, mulberry and violet, plus a strong note of licorice. Deeply pitched dark fruit flavors are given an exotic character by notes of violet pastille and star anise. Supple and expansive on the firm, gripping, intensely spicy finish. This textbook syrah should age well. (ST)" (5/2011) Antonio Galloni: "The 2009 Syrah Estate Vineyard shows the wilder side of the grape in its red cherries, black pepper, spices and herbs. Medium in body, it possesses good balance and energy through to the finish. (AG)" (8/2011) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2009 Syrah E ...Read More »
91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "More forward than the 2011, the 2012 Syrah Alturas has beautiful, gamey dark berry and raspberry-like fruits, olive, peppercorn and hints of road tar to go with a medium to full-bodied, supple and superbly textured feel on the palate. Possesses good concentration, a soft, easy going mid-palate and nicely integrated acidity, this is already drinking nicely, but will evolve gracefully over the coming 6-8 years. These northern California beauties are made by Paul Gordon and Scott Shapley, with a focus on their estate Halcon Vineyard located in the Mendocin ...Read More »
90-92 point Robert Parker: "The dark ruby/purple-tinged 2005 Syrah Griffin’s Lair offers more pepper, mineral, spice box, and black currant characteristics. Well-made, elegant, and stylish, it should drink well for 7-8 years. Previously recommended: 2002 La Palette (93), 2003 Syrah Napa (90)." (12/06) Another gem from Karen Culler, highly allocated.
Inventory: Main Warehouse
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Syrah Estate Benchland spent 17 months in French oak casks. Blackberry, white flower, charcoal and earth characteristics are present in this medium to full-bodied, excellent Syrah. Consume it over the next 5-7 years." (12/2014) K&L Notes: From the winery: "Similar to our 2009 and 2007 Benchland, this 2012 really shows an added dimension of blackberry fruit to go along with the smoked meat character we’ve come to love about this vineyard. Don’t be fooled by the fruit, this wine has excellent tannin structure. This 2012 Benchland Syrah should start showing wel... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright ruby. Heady, exotically perfumed bouquet of blackberry, cherry-cola, licorice and incense, with a note of violet in the background. Sweet, ripe, silky and expansive, with a nervy spine of acidity providing focus to the sweet red and dark berry compote flavors. Sexy and approachable already but this seamless, very long syrah has the depth to age." (5/2012) K&L Notes: Peay's estate La Bruma Vineyard is one of the coolest sites in California growing Syrah. This translates to a style of Syrah more reminiscent in aroma and flavor to those produced in France's Rh... Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Opaque ruby. Blackberry, camphor and candied licorice on the pungent nose, with a hint of pipe tobacco building in the glass. Broad and sweet, with fleshy dark berry compote flavors lifted by a palate-numbing jolt of cracked pepper. Very syrah. Closes spicy, smoky and long, with repeating floral character and smooth, even tannins coming up late. (JR)" (12/2014)90 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2013 Syrah Estate Sta. Rita Hills is a big, powerful wine built on fruit and up-front intensity. Dark blue and purplish hued fruit, spice, leather and menthol flesh out on the voluptuous, racy f ...Read More »
According to the producer: "Very dark ruby. An appealing nose blackberry, plum, peach, anise, and mocha. Many who tried this from barrel were convinced there must be viognier in the mix but it is indeed 100% syrah. Smooth and supple on entry. Quite full-bodied with a mildly tannic finish. Although approachable now, there's plenty of structure to ensure ample bottle development. Drink from mid 2006 through 2010."
95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The wine possesses striking blackberry, ground pepper, fried bacon fat, barbecue spice, and underbrush/composty characteristics that are also meaty and primordial. The volcanic soils may give this wine a more smoky, scorched, meaty character than other Northern California Syrahs. As the wine sits in the glass, notes of melted licorice also emerge. The 2002 is extremely layered and long. This cuvee always benefits from 2-3 hours of decanting, and a young vintage might even be better if decanted 24 hours in advance. This wine should easily last 10-15 years ...Read More »
Inventory: Main Warehouse
93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2012 Syrah So Serine smells as if it were co-fermented with Viognier given its uplifted nose of apricot marmalade, crème de cassis, blackberry and spring flowers. A gorgeous, sexy, full-bodied, voluptuously-textured wine with 15.2% alcohol, in many ways it is a lighter cuvée for Jeff Cohn. While it is hard to resist at present, this delicious Syrah should last for 8-10 years. Jeff Cohn makes a dizzying array of wines, all of which have enormous appeal and character. (RP)" (12/2014) Wine Spectator: "A ripe, generous style, with up-front flavors of fleshy plum and black ...Read More »
The 2013 Hommage Allan is the Hermitage to the 2012 Côte-Rôtie. This was fermented, destemmed and in an open top tank using mostly pump overs. The 2013 Allan was pressed just before it went dry and completed its fermentation in barrel with its original wild yeast and wild malo-lactic bacteria. The vast majority of the new wood was Francois Frères (all 3 year, air dried), and there were only two Meyrieux barrels. Like all our wines, this went to bottle unfined and unfiltered. We are very impressed with this vineyard site. Our Syrah block is a steep climb... Read More »
95 points Connoisseurs Guide: "***Three Stars*** Intensely spicy with a wealth of pepper and game tagging it as Syrah in no uncertain terms yet also wonderfully deep in ongoing blackberry-like fruit, this exquisitely structured wine manages to be big, balanced and uncommonly well-polished all at the same time. It is showy in some ways and still nascent in others, and it impresses as a wine with great places to go. It would be a shame to pour it before its fifth or sixth birthday, and it should continue to grow for at least twice as long." (11/2014)94 points Antonio Galloni: "The 2012 Syrah Jack Robert's Run Grego ...Read More »
Edmunds St. John is a Rhône blend specialist making wine in Berkeley, California since 1985. The Fenaughty Vineyard, located at 2,800 feet on the south side of the American River where the soils are volcanic clay-loam, produces a smokey, gamy wine that just might be a dead-ringer for young Crozes-Hermitage. Winemaker's tasting note: "Quite dark purply-red. Deep nose showing violet notes, and smoke, a bit of blackberry-leaf. Medium-to-full body on the palate, with engaging texture, and good freshness. Flavors nicely balanced, and lengthy, but only showing... Read More »