2017 Drew Family Cellars, Syrah, Perli Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge.
Always an exciting wine, the Drew Perli Syrah, is quite lush in the 2017 version and full of black fruit and with smooth ripe tannins, and even though made using full bunches and stems it delivers an opulent and full bodied palate with presence that reminds me more of the southern Rhone than the Northern Rhone, though I do see a touch of Guigal Cote Rotie in the polished form here. This is a wine that excites in the mouth feel and in impact delivering blackberry, plum, black currant, blueberry coulis and kirsch fruits along with subtle spice, smoky mineral notes, anise, cedar and black Mission figs. The nose is still subdued at this stage, but a light floral array emerges with air, and you can see that underneath all the dense fruit there is a more savory side lurking and that much more is developing behind the scenes on display so far. The Perli drinks very well now, make no mistake, though I am more interested in its potential in 3 to 5 years, and if you do open it like I did, be sure to have it with food, especially heavy protein dishes and or hard cheeses. As I’ve been saying for some time now, Drew Family Cellars is one of California’s best wineries and Jason Drew is making some of the state’s absolutely best wines, in particular his awesome set of Pinots, like the Estate bottlings and the Morning Dew Ranch, as well as his limited release Syrah(s) like the Valenti Ranch and this Perli Vineyard.
The Perli Vineyard, which Drew notes, lies within the Mendocino Ridge appellation and sits at 2200 ft elevation just ten miles from the Mendocino Coast, cooled by the Pacific Ocean on a steep north eastern slope, which allows for long hang times for the grapes and with restrained sugars. This 21 year old vineyard is set on ancient ocean floor uplift with sedimentary soils with both the McDowell selection and the 877 clones of Syrah. The McDowell selection, Jason adds, is notable as it is the oldest field selection of Syrah in North America, that originally came into California in 1880 where it was propagated by the San Jose Mission and then later planted on the McDowell Ranch in Mendocino County in 1902, maybe the first Rhone Ranger. Drew employed a 100% Native Yeast and 100% Whole Cluster fermentation, on this vintage of the Perli Syrah, to promote purity and thrilling flavor evolution with gentle maceration, pilage and pressing, with the wine resting on the fine lees in neutral French oak for close to a year with gravity racking a couple of times before bottling. The Perli which really excels when given time to open in the glass has a joyous textural quality and while almost exotic and very expressive it has a natural balance and is just 13.8% in alcohol, keeping it from feeling hot or boozy, this is tasty stuff. Only 75 cases, or three barrels, were produced of the Drew Perli Syrah, making it a rare treat to cherish, Drew advises this one sells out fast, so keep an eye out for it.
($48 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive