2017 Tensley Santa Barbara County Syrah

SKU #1399061 93 points Jeb Dunnuck

 Leading off the 2017s, the 2017 Syrah Santa Barbara County had already been bottled and it delivers everything you’d expect: rocking aromatics of blueberries, blackberries, lavender, and pepper, medium to full body, an elegant, seamless texture, and a great finish. It’s actually slightly more elegant and vibrant than some past vintages and is going to evolve beautifully for a decade.  (10/2018)

93 points Wine Spectator

 Vibrant and layered, with expressive raspberry and blueberry flavors accented by garrigue notes, hints of mineral and smoked cracked pepper accents that take on richness toward polished tannins. (TF)  (1/2019)

91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Deep ruby, the 2017 Syrah Santa Barbara, made with 20% whole cluster and no new oak, has a nose of white pepper, green peppercorn, cedar shavings, grilled beef, licorice and chocolate with warm black cherry compote, prosciutto, fried herbs and red cherry sparks. It's full-bodied in the mouth with firm, grainy tannins and just enough freshness to lift the long finish. (EB)  (9/2019)

90 points Vinous

 Tensley's 2017 Syrah (Santa Barbara County) is soft, succulent and inviting, with lovely red berry fruit and floral notes that lend freshness. The 33% whole clusters add aromatic nuance, without being especially noticeable or overpowering. Forward, fruity and inviting, the 2017 will drink well right out of the gate. Most importantly, it is an absolutely gorgeous wine in its peer group. (AG)  (9/2019)

K&L Notes

Once again this vintage of the Santa Barbara County Syrah is made up of fruit from the diverse microclimates that make up the county. Winemaker's notes: "This year’s SBC blend is comprised primarily of Syrah from the Hilltop Vineyard. Hilltop is a cool climate vineyard and brings a splash of red fruit that is super fresh with a bright acidity. The rest of the blend is made up of Colson Canyon and Clover Creek Syrah. These vineyards both bring lush roundness to the wine along with deep notes of plum, blackberries and smoked meats."

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Price: $23.95
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By: Thomas Smith | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 2/25/2019 | Send Email
This is an absolute go-to Syrah that is a classic example of exceptional Central Coast Syrah. There is plenty of richness here. It expresses blue fruit and black fruit core, with fragrant notes of violets and smoke. And despite its power, it manages to keep its balance intact. There is a seamless quality to this wine from the front palate that carries all the way through to its resonating finish. This is a wine that screams for tri-tip; a big-fruit Syrah that punches well above its price.

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.


- 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 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.