2018 Joyce Wine Company, Syrah, Tondre Grapefield, Santa Lucia Highlands.
At a Halloween party with some scary good wines on offer, one really stood out, this new Joyce Syrah from the Tondre Grapefield vineyard site in the Santa Lucia Highlands, it is another big step up for winemaker Russell Joyce and this Monterey winery, it is an absolutely gorgeous and complex wine with beautiful fruit purity, a background of savory elements and highlights the brilliance of the vintage locally. The aromatics are sexy with blaclk fruits, crushed violets and a subtle meatiness along with stem influences before revealing dark marionberries, plum and black cherry fruits on the medium to full bodied youthful palate along with herbs de Provence, minty anise, creme de cassis, peppercorns, tangy briar notes and a hint of graphite. The 2015, 2016 and the 2017 versions were all lovely versions, but this one really takes it to the next level with its total completeness and shows Joyce’s progression in winemaking and his tweaks here have been amazingly successful to allow this site to fulfill its potential and stylistically this wine takes its own path and follows the old school Northern Rhone tradition with the use of partial whole bunches.
The performance here was made even more impressive by the fact I tasted it side by side with one of Louis Barruol’s latest Crozes-Hermitage, in fact I would have probably have had a hard time picking which was which if blind tasted, so good was this Joyce Tondre Syrah! Right now, there are some thrilling California Syrah wines out there, like Drew’s Valenti and Perli Vineyards, Desire Lines Wine Co.’s Griffin’s Lair and Shake Ridge offerings as well as Paul Gordon’s Halcon Vineyards, all of which, and including this one are exceptional values. Joyce employed early picks of the Syrah fruit and fermented in cement tank with 60% whole-cluster with the wine aged in a combination of cement and neutral French barrels, all of which was preserve freshness and vitality, keeping natural alcohol down and showing the sandy loam terroir of the SLH. This deep purple/ruby Syrah is serious stuff and will certainly gain with bottle age, though it is impossible to resist even now, especially with robust and or rustic protein laced cuisine, it will be awesome with wild mushroom dishes, grilled meats, roast poultry and even Korean BBQ! Drink this outrageously cool Syrah over the next 3 to 5 years, Syrah geeks should not miss this way.
($35 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive