2009 Rhys "Horseshoe Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Syrah

SKU #1126626 94 points Jeb Dunnuck

 A totally brilliant Syrah that's reminiscent of a top Côte Brune with its mix of iron, black pepper, violets, and game, the 2009 Rhys Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard starts out dense and tight, but slowly unwinds over the evening to show a firm, yet elegant texture, beautifully integrated acidity, and a classically structured and tannic finish. Despite the slightly masculine profile and structure, this has the fruit to handle it. Give bottles 2-4 years in the cellar and then drink over the following decade or longer. Lovers of Syrah should not miss this beauty and it would stand toe to toe with anything coming out of California or France.  (12/2011)

93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2009 Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard opens with black pepper, game, creme de cassis and white flowers. Blackberries and blueberries appear later, adding further complexity on the finish. This is a decidedly cold-weather, angular Syrah that needs time in the bottle for some of the contours to soften. (AG)  (8/2011)

93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Bright purple. Blackberry, cherry and pungent spices on the powerfully scented nose. Sappy and palate-staining, offering potent, impressively deep dark fruit and violet pastille flavors. Surprisingly lithe and silky in texture for all its power. Turns spicier with air and finishes bright, floral and very long. (ST)  (5/2012)

92 points John Gilman

 Horseshoe Ranch Vineyard has great terroir, which is easily ascertained by the beautiful Pinot Noirs that hail from this site, but this is still a young vineyard that was only planted in 2004 and the Syrahs may need a bit more time to show off all the class of this locale that is already so evident in the Pinots from Horseshoe. That said, the 2009 Horseshoe Syrah is excellent, as it offers up a very classy nose of cassis, pepper, bitter chocolate, incipient notes of venison, stony minerality and a touch of cedar. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish and intensely flavored, with tangy acids, ripe tannins and very fine length and grip on the focused and fairly structured finish. This is decidedly less ripe than the 13.9% of the 2008 Horseshoe Syrah, weighing in at 12.8% in 2009, and it delivers decidedly more precision and nascent complexity as a result. Fine juice. (Drink between 2017-2035)  (6/2011)

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Price: $69.99
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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.


- 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.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Cruz Mountains

- Vineyards dot the valleys and ridges of this coastal AVA just south of San Francisco. Microclimates make it difficult to generalize, and vineyards are frequently separated by acres of forests and meadowlands (not to mention entire towns!), but this is nonetheless known as a cooler-climate zone ideal for pinot noir. Ridge is doubtless the most famous local producer, with its cabernet blend, Monte Bello, named after a Santa Cruz mountain peak. High-quality, low-production chardonnay and some Rhône varietals prosper as well.