2021 Drive Wines, Syrah, Canihan Vineyard, Sonoma Coast.
After a successful start with Zinfandel and a Zin Rosé, Drive Wines has now released two new wines, a Carneros Pinot Noir and this dark purple/garnet deep and spicy Cote-Rotie inspired Sonoma Coast Syrah, which has a core of blackberry, blueberry compote and plum fruit, as well as a delicate earthiness, peppery spice, licorice and cedar accents that complete to cooler climate profile and making for a delicious effort. Cooled by the San Pablo Bay sea breezes, this Canihan Vineyard Syrah, only 11 barrels made, which came in at just 13.3 % natural alcohol, had a plenty of hang time to develop full flavors, sweet, but taut tannins and its color extraction. The Drive Syrah, sourced from organic vines, again leaning on Cote-Rotie, was 94% Syrah and 6% Viognier, which was traditionally co-fermented in, adding its own little bit of sunshine to the wine. The winemaking here, by John Musto, is direct and done to promote purity with about 15% whole clusters in the maceration and fermentation, which lasted about 10 days with hand punch downs, keeping the cap submerged as possible being pressing to barrel. The wood use here was 50% 2 year old barrels and 50% full neutral wood and the Syrah saw an elevage of about 15 months, all to allow the wine time to resolve its peaky nature and flow more seamlessly. Even though I loved the Zin by Drive, this one is certainly a level above and my favorite so far, it is best to enjoy this with hearty meaty foods, lamb kabobs and or grilled tri-tip steaks would go nicely here. This 2021 has enough grip to get your attention, so the food is essential in this youthful stage, but it really increases the sense of length and elevates the wine as a whole.

John Musto, founder and winemaker of Drive Wines based in Healdsburg, a wine industry insider that works for one of California’s greatest wineries, and who has, like me, a love and background in vintage cars and historic motor racing, began with some garage efforts and now does a tight collection of offerings from the Sonoma County. I reviewed some of Drive’s first releases with Musto’s 2017 Dry Creek Zinfandel from vines that were planted in 1904 at Puccioni Ranch being a particular favorite and was excited to try this new Syrah and wasn’t disappointed, it delivers everything you’d expect and more. Drive’s original label featured a little strip of bricks, famously the Wabash bricks, on the bottom of the label that pays tribute to the famed Brickyard, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, hence the name Drive Wines, though the new wines have discrete and sleeker look to them, which I have warmed to. Musto’s connections have paid off in sourcing top grapes for his wines and the Canihan fruit, especially in a cool and almost perfect vintage like 2021, makes for an exceptional wine. The Canihan Vineyard, planted in 1998, includes a selection of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, Clone 1, that John got for this one, it is all organic and dry farmed and located in a breezy cool zone closer to Carneros in the Sonoma Valley in an area that is classified as Sonoma Coast. This pebbly site has predominately sandy loam over clay and delivers ripe flavors, but with vibrant acidity and moderate alcohol, perfect for capturing a more northern Rhone style wine, as Musto wanted and got here. I really enjoyed the aftertaste, of this 2021 Syrah, with lingering herbs de Provence, violets, contrasting savory notes and a bit bitter chocolate all adding to the delight here, and I suggest checking out these latest Drive wines.
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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