2015 Big Basin Vineyards, Syrah, Rattlesnake Rock, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
This inky and powerful 2015 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah, by Bradley Brown’s Big Basin Vineyards, made from a harvest with ultra tiny yields is an incredible wine of deep concentration and northern Rhone style purity of form and with an everlasting aftertaste, it’s a blockbuster and should age for decades to come. The estate grown Big Basin Rattlesnake Rock Syrah is a field blend of Brown’s oldest vines on south facing slopes at about 1,400 feet above sea level set in mineral laced soils with shale, iron and sandstone at the core with lose clay and loam topsoil, it’s cool site with ocean influences, windy and a severe drop in temps at night, planted mostly to Alban clone or Cote-Rotie clone. This intense, aromatic and spicy Syrah was fermented using organic grapes using indigenous yeasts with partial whole cluster with a dose of Viognier co-fermented in, with gentle hand punchdowns and a long cold soak, as Brown suggests, to extract the full expression of the vineyard, then it was aged about two years in French oak. The Rattlesnake Rock Syrah is unique regional wine, again highlighting the sometimes underrated Santa Cruz Mountains, it is a fantastic wine that joins Rhys, Ridge, Mount Eden and others that make this place so special.
Big Basin’s latest set of wines are all just lovely with exceptional character and quality throughout the range, I especially was impressed with the whole Pinots and the Burgundy like Coastview Chardonnay, they clearly represent some of the best features of the Central Coast. That said, without question Big Basin’s most iconic wine is their Rattlesnake Rock Syrah, which is one of the greatest versions of the grape in California, sitting along side the likes of Alban, Ojai, Peay, Pax, Halcon and Drew to name a few. I least reviewed the 2012 vintage of Rattlesnake, and I had thought it couldn’t get much better than that, but I can admit I was wrong, as this 2015, which is just starting to reveal its true potential with dark layers of blackberry, briar laced olallieberry, damson plum, kirsch, creme de cassis, peppercorns, smoky camphor and liquid violets, as well as minty herb, dusty earth, mineral and licorice. All these flavors are packed into a tannic and full bodied wine that fleshes out with air, which it certainly needs, very much like a young Hermitage! Best to give this one another 3 to 5 years if you have are lucky to have some, with that patience, this brilliant wine will be even greater rewards, and I recommend keeping an eye out for this one and suggest getting on Big Basin’s mailing list.
($70 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive