2012 Arnot-Roberts North Coast Syrah

SKU #1144926 91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 (made from fruit grown in the La Cruz, Baker Lane, Clary Ranch, Alder Springs and Griffin's Lair vineyards; all whole clusters and neutral oak): Brilliant ruby. Pungent, smoke-accented blackcurrant and cherry on the nose, with a bright mineral quality adding complexity and focus. Firm, vibrant cherry and violet pastille flavors show very good concentration but no excess weight, with juicy acidity adding cut. Aeration brings up deeper blackberry and licorice notes that linger on the persistent, youthfully tannic finish.  (6/2014)

91 points Vinous

 The 2012 Syrah North Coast is dark, juicy and loaded with personality. Black pepper, black cherries, cloves, menthol and new leather jump from the glass. There is plenty of immediacy and pure pleasure to be found in this supple, beautifully layered Syrah. The 2012 can be enjoyed upon release and over the next handful of years. The vineyard sites are La Cruz, Clary Ranch, Alder Springs, Griffin's Lair and Baker Lane, a site in the Sebastopol hills that is part of the blend for the first time in 2012.  (2/2014)

K&L Notes

Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Roberts were named "Winemakers of the Year" for 2012 by the San Francisco Chronicle, and the duo, who have known each other since childhood, having been going from success to success vintage after vintage. (Antonio Galloni, writing for the Wine Advocate, called Arnot-Roberts "one of the most exciting young wineries in California, or anywhere for that matter," in 2010. Their Syrahs come from cooler vineyards, and this entry-level version has the tension, pepperiness and vibrant dark fruit you would expect from that fabulous fruit.

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Price: $39.99
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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.