2016 Desire Lines Wine Co. Syrah, Griffin’s Lair, Petaluma Gap AVA, Sonoma County.
Cody and Emily Rasmussen’s Desire Line Wine Co. is one of the most exciting new California labels to discover with a great set of new releases to chose from, especially this thrilling cool climate dark fruited Syrah from the famed Griffin’s Lair Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap AVA near Lakeville. Cody, the winemaker, who along with his childhood sweetheart Emily moved from Iowa to Sonoma in 2011 hit the ground running, starting as an harvest intern that fall and by next harvest he was drafted into the assistant winemaker’s position at Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Wine Co., one of the state’s best small producers. That is an epic rise and shows the passion and work ethic on Rasmussen’s part. After 5 years at Bedrock and working with great vineyards, Cody started sourcing grapes for his own lineup, all top notch sites for the varietals he loves, which are a savvy Rhone mix with mostly Syrah and a delightful dry Riesling. I was lucky enough to meet Cody at a recent trade tasting and was able to taste through his latest set of wines, these bottlings are exceptional and the quality v. price ratio is awesome, they are right up there we some top producers like his boss at Bedrock, Andy Erickson of Favia, Pax, Reeve and Sandlands to name a few. Rasmussen is making some intriguing stuff, these are beautifully crafted authentic California wines that show warm fruit density, less showy-without flashy new wood and are site driven in character.
The 2016 Griffin’s Lair Syrah, according to Rasmussen, was fermented with 50% whole cluster, with a submerged cap for the first half of fermentation and raised in neutral large format barrels for 15 months before bottling without fining or filtration. He picked during a cooler window to preserve purity and freshness and I think this really paid off with the wine showing an inner energy, vibrant black and blue fruits as well as solid structures with a nice bite from the stems and acidity to add crunchiness and contrast to the ripe density on the palate. Griffin’s Lair, set on gravel and clay loamy soils always get those “Gap” breezes and cooling influences which allows deep ripe flavors, but with vivid detail and good acidity. The medium/full body of the Griffin’s Lair is impressive in the mouth and shows a Norther Rhone profile with blackberry, boysenberry, dark plum, black currant and kirsch as well as black olive, peppercorns, camphor, a hint of bacon fat and cedar. The wine is textural and pleasing, but does have a good backbone of raw tannin for age-ability, though elegantly poised, adding a violet floral sensation that is subtle on the nose, along with minty anise and wild herb (stem driven?) to the mix with a few swirls in the glass, all of which highlights the complexity and craftsmanship. This is a list to get on quick and besides this sexy opaque purple Griffin’s Lair, look for the Desire Lines 2017 Evangelho Old Vine Red Wine (95% Carignan & 5% Mourvèdre) and the exotic, wildly perfumy and hedonistic Shake Ridge Syrah from the Amador County in the Sierra Foothills.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive