2016 Filomena Wine Company, Syrah, Griffin’s Lair Vineyard, Petaluma Gap AVA, Sonoma County.
Luke Nio’s Filomena Griffin’s Lair Syrah is a thrill ride of epic proportions with boysenberry, hoisin, crushed violets, minty herbs, bacon, dark current and blueberry compote all coming at you on the medium/full bodied palate along with peppercorns, tarry earth, cinnamon, cedar. camphor and salted black licorice in the background adding to this wine’s northern Rhone meets California personality, it’s awesome stuff from this rising star. Nio, who is a winemaker at Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Wine Co, started his own micro-winery label in 2014, and has built up a solid reputation as a winemaker and has crafted a stellar collection of small lot wines over the last few vintages, including some cool rarities like his Enz Vineyard Cab Pfeffer Rosé and his Ricci Vineyard St. Laurent Red from Carneros, made from a unique Austrian grape, which has become a must have wine for me with its Cru Beaujolais style, semi-carbonic, juiciness, as well as this Griffin’s Lair Bottling, the signature wine here. This Syrah is impressive for it’s expressive nature and purity, it is a powerful and deeply colored wine that delivers a real bang for the buck with lush dark fruits, spice and classic smoky/meaty funk showing lush tannins, lively acidity, whole bunch complexity with a complex balance between the fruit and florals with the savory and mineral elements. Enjoy this gorgeous California Syrah over the next ten years and be sure to have it with hearty cuisine, especially BBQ, grilled meats and or wild and woodsy Mushroom dishes.

The Filomena Griffin’s Lair Syrah was hand crafted from small yielding vines in the cool, breezy zone in the Petaluma Gap AVA, not far from Lakeville and set on a complex array of fault influenced soils, the vineyard is farmed by John Flynn to mostly organic methods with the intension to move to full biodynamics in the future. Nio notes that Griffin’s Lair was planted in 2000 by Joan and Jim Griffin at their tiny ranch just off Lakeville Highway. It is planted to roughly 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Syrah (Noir, 470, Alban, and 877 clones) with a couple of rows of Viognier framing the Syrah block. The vineyard sits just five miles above San Pablo Bay at the southern end of the Petaluma Gap, an elbow-shaped valley that essentially acts as a wind tunnel from the coast. The Griffin’s Lair was elevated in prestige when Pax, famous for his Syrah released his version, which is one of the most desirable Syrahs in California, and it is a special site for Nio, who first came to the attention of Twain-Peterson with his own early efforts from this vineyard. This 2016 vintage was 100% whole cluster and foot-trod, employing an old school indigenous yeast fermentation with an extended maceration period with hand punch-downs before pressing. Everything done here was to promote full extraction of flavors and pigment with the idea to fully mature this wine before release. After the primary fermentation the Griffin’s Lair was barreled down to a neutral 600L demi-muid (French oak cask) and was aged 18 months before being bottled, then the wine was, as Nio adds, cellar rested for another 3 years. This offering is super limited, but I highly recommend getting a few bottles while you can and join this list!
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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