2010 Donelan "Cuvée Keltie" Sonoma County Syrah

SKU #1164431 95 points Jeb Dunnuck

 A homage to old world Syrah, yet with a California level of polish, the 2010 Donelan Syrah Cuvée Keltie comes from cooler plots (Obsidian, Richards’, Kobler, Windsor Oaks, and Walker Vine Hill) and was fermented with 100% whole clusters before spending 24 months in neutral French oak. It delivers a first-rate bouquet of black raspberries, spice-rubbed meat, tobacco leaf, and pepper that flows to a medium to full-bodied, seamless, and gorgeously pure palate that has nothing out of place. Despite possessing building richness and plenty of texture, it never seems heavy or cumbersome. Opening up over the evening and showing superb freshness, an elegant, layered profile, and ripe tannic structure on the finish, this superb example of cool-climate Syrah will benefit from another 2-3 years in the cellar, and shine for 12-15.  (12/2012)

95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2010 Cuvee Keltie, made from 100% stems, neutral oak and indigenous yeast fermentation, smells of aged steaks, beef tartare, bacon fat, crushed rocks and blackberries. Full-bodied with even more intensity, concentration and body than the 2011, this is a massive yet incredibly well-balanced, pure example of Syrah to drink over the next 10-15 years. (RP) 95+  (12/2013)

94 points Wine Enthusiast

 Rich, dry and complex, this Syrah has flavors of blackberry, currant, licorice, grilled prosciutto, black pepper and sandalwood that are wrapped in fine tannins. The wine is a barrel selection of the various vineyards from which Donelan sources its fruit. Production was exceedingly small, but it’s worth a special search.  (4/2013)

93 points Vinous

 Bacon fat, smoke, tobacco, grilled herbs and black fruit are some of the many notes that emerge from the 2010 Syrah Cuvée Keltie. Just beginning to show some elements of complexity, the 2010 looks to have a bright future. This is one of the more savory 2010 Syrahs here. A host of dark, ferrous notes inform the chewy finish. The 2010 is a selection of barrels from Obsidian, Richards, Kobler, Windsor Oaks and Walker Vine Hill, fermented with 100% whole clusters and aged for 24 months entirely in neutral oak. (AG)  (2/2014)

Wine Spectator

 Dense and closed, offering a pleasant mix of blueberry, blackberry, loamy earth, tobacco leaf, graphite and limestone flavors. This is slow to unfold. A good choice for the cellar. (JL, Web Only-2013)

K&L Notes

The 2009 represents a barrel selection of specific subsections of Obsidian, Richards, Kobler, Windsor Oaks, and Walker Vine Hill Vineyards.

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Price: $54.99
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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:

Sonoma County

- Second in fame only to Napa, this "other" valley offers just about every climate and topography imaginable. From its cool and fog-enshrouded coastal regions on the far west, to the sprawling Alexander Valley on the boarder of Napa and the many little dips and peaks in between, Sonoma has been a vital wine-grape-growing region since the mid 1800s. Important sub-AVAs include Chalk Hill (known for chardonnay and sauvignon blanc), Dry Creek Valley (where zin is king) Knights Valley (largely cabernet land), Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast (both celebrated pinot and chardonnay zones).