2014 Jonata "La Sangre" Syrah Ballard Canyon

SKU #1336463 99 points Jeb Dunnuck

 Unquestionably the star of the show is the 2014 La Sangre de Jonata, and it's a more finesse driven, elegant, cool climate example of the cuvee than normal. Reminding me of an Hermitage from Bessards, it offers gorgeous notes of blackberries, cassis, leather, scorched earth and pepper. Possessing full-bodied richness, firm, polished tannin and a focused finish, it will be more approachable that most vintage of this cuvee, yet I still wouldn't touch bottles for 3-5 years. If you must drink a bottle over the coming couple of years, give it a 2-hour decant. It’s always a fun tasting with winemaker Matt Dees and his team, and they continue to keep this estate at the top of the hierarchy in Santa Barbara County. Located in Ballard Canyon AVA, they pull only from their estate vineyard (planted on incredibly sandy soils) and make a wide range of cuvées, from a red and white Bordeaux blends, to a 100% Petit Verdot, Sangiovese and a number of terrific Rhône blends. The common thread is incredible quality.

94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Made from 99% Syrah and 1% Viognier, the medium garnet-purple colored 2014 La Sangre de Jonata is a little closed to begin, presenting notes of blackberry preserves and black cherries with hints of violets, tar and chargrill. The concentrated, medium to full-bodied palate is packed with expressive, youthful black fruit, supported by firm, rounded tannins and finishing on a peppery note.

93 points Vinous

 A big, explosive wine, the 2014 La Sangre de Jonata is going to need at least a few years to soften. Then again, that is pretty much the norm for this Syrah. The flavors are dark, intense and meaty with a huge backbone of tannin that gives the wine its distinctive energy.

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Price: $134.99

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- 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:

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.