2008 Martinelli "Hop Camp Vineyard - Gravel Lens" Russian River Valley Syrah

SKU #1241646 92 points Jeb Dunnuck

 The 2008 Martinelli Syrah Hop Camp Vineyard 'Gravel Lens' (Grave lens refers to the rare soil characteristic of alluvial soil layers interleaved with layers of gravel) is a big, beautifully fruited Syrah that possess touches of northern Rhone like qualities mainly on the nose. Blackberry, cracked pepper, mineral, and hints of chocolate all emerge, and this fleshes out over the evening and gains floral and violets characteristics, as well as notable complexity and a layered profile. This full-bodied, beautifully textured Syrah has an overall seamless feel, solid acidity, and a clean finish. It benefits from a decant, and should age gracefully for upwards of a decade. (JD)

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 One of the oldest and most historically significant vineyard owners and wine producers in Northern California (RP)

K&L Notes

According to the winery: "The 2008 Hop Camp Vineyard Syrah offers aromas of wild game, cedar, and blackberry. Flavors include black pepper and dark rich plum, backed by earthy tannins and a mineral characteristic."

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Price: $29.99
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Staff Image By: Jim Barr | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 8/16/2016 | Send Email
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Medium deep ruby in color with a pinkish youthful edge in appearance, the opulent, developed nose on this moderately aged Syrah is loaded with white pepper, anise, cedary to forest floor-like qualities that carries over wonderfully into a broad, viscous, silky, incredibly complex, evolved set of flavors. With excellent mid-palate presentation and a core of concentrated fruit, this Gem is a truly nicely aged, serious, elegant Syrah with layers of characteristics that will probably age easily another five-plus years, but drinks so great right now, one needs to ask; “Why age it?” I will though. Rusty has demanded that I bring at least several cases of this aged, great Gem home, and I definitely will. Great Value!!! Don’t miss it!!! Ignore the alcohol level, because it does not interfere. ***** 15.2% ABV *****
Drink from 2016 to 2025

Staff Image By: John Majeski | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/25/2016 | Send Email
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A little advice: decant this layered, full-bodied Syrah for a few hours before drinking it, as it harbors a veritable fleet of blackberry, warm spice and braised meat flavors on its dense, elegantly structured palate. As it develops in the glass, savory notes of bacon, dark chocolate and mint emerge, followed by more fruits and spice on the copious, lingering finish. Martinelli is a legendary Russian River winery, and this silky Syrah will further embellish its lustrous reputation.

Staff Image By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/23/2016 | Send Email
When this wine was first presented to me a couple of years ago I loved it. It was a meaty, savory, powerful Syrah that had all the bells & whistles to make our customers incredibly happy. Then I heard what it was going to cost. $65 retail. Sorry, but no thanks. At that price it was a great wine from one of the most iconic Russian River Valley producers, but I just couldn’t see many shelling out that kind of dough at what was probably the lowest point of interest for high-end Syrah from the U.S.
Fast forward a few years and people love California Syrah again, so it was a surprise to me that this wine was still kicking around and there was a ton of it! Was the wine still good? Even better! With a few years to round out its tannins and let the acid integrate better this was becoming a stunner of a wine. But what about the price? Well just this once the folks at Martinelli decided that they’d let us have a massive discount, so massive we can’t publish the price on-line, to help sell this forgotten gem.
Full of menthol, black pepper, exotic spices and bloody beef tones on the nose this is packed full of varietal intensity and vigor. Juicy and bursting with tangy cherry and raspberry fruit over fresh rosemary and dried meats this walks a tight rope of fruit versus spice, neither ever really getting the upper hand. Savory on the finish with camphor, chaparral and fresh thyme long present after the kirsch fruit resides this is great both as a cocktail for fans of more rustic wines or at the dinner table for larger scoped game dishes. Bottom line--jump on this value! We’ll never see another one from Martinelli like this again!

Staff Image By: Scott Beckerley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/18/2016 | Send Email
If you are looking for super heavy, syrupy Syrah, look elsewhere. This release from Martinelli is spicy and bright, with wild blackberry fruit and a slight hint of chalkiness. This is why I admire it...it is different and will lend itself to a variety of foods. Also slightly gamey, with pepper and clean clay notes. Red plums on the finish. More European in character and as an added bonus, it is from cult producer Martinelli. Win-win!

Staff Image By: Andrew Stevens | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/15/2016 | Send Email
It is rare to find a Martinelli wine at this price, and it may be some time before you see a deal like this again. The wine greets you with a very ripe nose of dark berry and leads to a polished and rich wine. Dark cherry and fruit notes are layered throughout the wine, enhancing and complementing each other. The wine has a very long and lingering finish the remains on the mouth and in the mind.

Staff Image By: Dave Genevro | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/13/2016 | Send Email
Tons of generosity, elegance and textures going on in this wine. Add on some bottle age, and you have got great Russian River Valley fruit at an approachable point in it's aging. This wine could still run awhile longer, given the liveliness of this wine and the style in general. Enjoy!

Staff Image By: Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/11/2016 | Send Email
This wine is in its absolute prime. Everything has come together so beautifully. There is a tremendous balance here. The earth and cedar have meshed beautifully with the blackberries and cocoa powder, and there is that elegant touch of pepper spice and a bit gaminess. The wine has a dramatic presence and full mouthfeel, but never feels too weighty or bulky. It is silky smooth and remarkably clean. Getting access to such a legendary producer in the Russian River at this amazing price doesn't happen often. This wine is an excellent opportunity for any drinker looking to seize a deal.

Additional Information:



- 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.

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.


- 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:

Alexander Valley/Russian River

- Among Sonoma County's northernmost appellations, the Alexander Valley AVA acts as a gateway to neighboring Napa to the east and Mendocino to the north. It is a sprawling appellation, with pockets of distinct microclimates and soils, and as such, is home to a variety of wine grapes and styles. Nearly everything grows in the Alexander Valley, though Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the most widely planted grapes. The Russian River Valley lies to the south of Alexander Valley, and is marked by much cooler temperatures and frequently heavy fog. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown here are some of the state's finest and most sought-after. Aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer and Riesling can also be successful, and sparkling wine production has a long history in the area.
Alcohol Content (%): 15.2