2011 Stolpman "Estate" Santa Ynez Valley Syrah
Freshly cut flowers, dark red cherries, mint, licorice and violets are alive in the glass in Stolpman's 2011 Syrah Estate. One of the most refined, polished wines I have ever tasted from Stolpman, the 2011 Syrah impresses for its exceptional balance, length and vibrancy. This is a fabulous showing. The low 2011 yields and tiny berries resulted in a wine endowed with fabulous purity. Drinking window: 2013 - 2023. Stolpman was one of the most pleasant and unexpected surprises of my Central Coast tastings. The wines, once heavy and overdone, are moving towards greater finesse. Winemaker Sashi Moorman has pretty much eliminated punchdowns and increased whole cluster fermentations. As was common throughout the region, Stolpman endured a long, cool growing season in 2011 that brought with it lower yields but exceptional quality.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
(includes 3% grenache, 2% roussanne and 1% viognier): Fresh dark red-ruby. Slightly reduced aromas of black raspberry, smoky minerals, plum sauce and smoked meat, plus a hint of purple fruits. Then densely packed, vibrant and savory, with superb energy and acid cut to the sweet dark fruit, flint, violet, pepper and fresh herb flavors. A very juicy, penetrating style of syrah, and very 2011 in character, not to mention Cote-Rotie-like. Finishes with verve and aromatic persistence. Ridiculously underpriced.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The largest production wine of the estate, with close to 5,000 cases produced, the 2011 Syrah Estate is a beauty! Exhibiting pretty raspberry, flowers, violets, herbes de Provence and licorice, this medium-bodied, finesse oriented Syrah has good to moderate concentration and silky tannin, suggesting it's best consumed over the coming handful of years. Drink now-2016. Under the guidance of Sashi Moorman (of Sandhi Wines and the winemaker here since 2001), this estate has slowly moved toward earlier picking and slightly more fresh, elegant wines.
*Cellar Selection* The best thing about this Syrah is its exceptional dryness, which gives it a fine, savory elegance despite the obvious power of ripe blackberries mingled with tobacco, black pepper and grilled meat. The acid-tannin balance is just fine. It would not be surprising if this firm young Syrah improves over the next 5-6 years.
Blending a small percentage of Viognier into their Syrah is pretty much de rigueur for some producers; Stolpman added 2% Roussanne a.k.a their "beautiful golden child" into their 2011 Estate, intensifying the perfume of the fruit.