2019 Drew Family Cellars, Syrah, Valenti Ranch, Mendocino Ridge.
One of my very favorite California red wines, the Drew Valenti Syrah offers emended class and quality with its cool climate Northern Rhone personality and elegant, Cote-Rotie like presence in the glass and this slightly shy 2019, which is beautifully purple hued, does not disappoint after it enjoys time to breathe and awaken, it is a gorgeous and world class dark fruited and aromatic wine. This vintage, even with its supple tannins, is a wine that should reward the patient and looks like has an extended drinking window, while still being well mannered in its youth with this year’s version slowly opening after the cork was pulled, but it puts the throttle down after 20 minutes or so, enhancing the perfume and allowing the density of fruit to shine.The palate feels restrained with a medium body and classic layers of blackberry, boysenberry, plum and blue currant fruits along with savory cigar wrapper, camphor and subtle earthy tones, as well as the beautiful violets, cracked pepper, sandalwood/cedar and lingering kirsch. Drew’s Syrah offerings are exciting examples with low natural alcohol and lively acidity, and while known foremost as one of California’s best Pinot Noir producers, these Syrahs are not to be missed and offer a stunning value for what you get in the bottle, as this Valenti Ranch shows and will continue to do so for another decade.

The Valenti Ranch vineyard site sits up at just under 1,500ft and is a cold windy site that faces the East which gives it nice exposure to deliver ripe grapes to Jason Drew’s winery at the very Western end of the Anderson Valley, within the micro Mendocino Ridge AVA. Valenti, which is farmed all organic, is set on ancient seabed with meager marine sedimentary soils and sees huge Pacific Ocean influence with a selection of Chave (Hermitage) clone and Clone 1 (believed to be an old Cote-Rotie selection) planted here. This site, Drew explains, brings a leaner profile to this wine and that he co-ferments a small percentage of Viognier to add what, he calls, an aromatic lift in this fabulous Syrah. As to the winemaking here, Jason employs traditional old world methods with this wine seeing a 100% whole cluster fermentation with all natural native yeasts with long cool maceration before aging a full 18 months in all used, neutral French oak casks. Typically the elevage for the Syrah is done in a combination of barriques and larger puncheons, depending on the vintage and this 2019 Valenti finished up at a very refined 13% alcohol and it is brilliantly transparent and very focused, it goes fantastic with classic pairings, like herb crusted lamb, meat dishes and or wild mushrooms. With food, this Syrah fills out more fully and provides loads of entertainment and texture, delivering on its promise and reminds me a lot of its notable and revered French cousins, with this particular vintage leaning towards exceptional Saint-Joseph(s) offerings.
($55 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

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