2009 Qupe "Bien Nacido Hilllside Estate" Santa Maria Valley Syrah (Elsewhere $40)

SKU #1208059 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 heavy, the wine’s acidity mouthwatering and alive. Age it for ten or fifteen years to taste its full potential.  (10/2014)

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Slightly richer, with addition depth and texture, the 2009 Syrah Bien Nacido Hillside Estate offers up knockout game, new saddle leather, pepper and smoke-tinged blackberry fruit as well as a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel. Balanced and showing plenty of ripe tannin and good acidity, it will have 12-15 years of evolution. (JD)  (8/2013)

92 points Vinous

 The 2009 Syrah Bien Nacido Hillside Estate is the biggest and most savory of these Syrahs from Qupe. Cedar, tobacco, smoke and game notes add complexity to fruit that has begun to soften in the 2009, which is also Qupe's current release. This deep, resonant Syrah is an excellent choice for drinking over the next few years, as the flavors already show a good bit of development. (AG)  (7/2014)

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Bright purple. Blackberry and cassis scents are complicated by notes of game, black pepper and bitter chocolate. Spicy dark fruit flavors show good concentration and focus, with zesty acidity adding spine. Finishes with good cut, length and lingering spiciness.  (11/2011)

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Varietal:

Shiraz/Syrah

- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.
Country:

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.
Sub-Region:

California

- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Maria/Santa Barbara

- Santa Maria and Santa Ynez make up the two AVAs of Santa Barbara County, an area known for its natural beauty and temperate climate. The best grape-growing areas, however, are located on the very coastal reaches of these two appellations, and are cooled by ever-present fog and ocean breezes (it is even cooler and foggier here than Carneros!). As expected, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive while the more inland zones lay claim to Bordeaux varietals and some Rhône blends.
Alcohol Content (%): 13.5