2018 Drew Family Cellars, Syrah, Perli Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge, Mendocino County.
Just when you thought the Drew wines couldn’t get any better, along comes this 2018 Perli Vineyard Syrah and it is just magnificent in every way with gorgeous layering of texture and delivers a dark and complex seduction on the supple, Guigal Hermitage like feel, showing a cascade of blue and black fruits, mixed spices, pretty violets and an exceptional lingering finish highlighted by creme de cassis, anise and a teasingly simmering sultry earthiness. This wine is absolutely brilliant, its structure is impressive for its velvety opulence, but it has an underlying firmness that is like a leopard in motion with satiny power and grace, and as fantastic as Drew’s Pinots are, Jason Drew’s Perli Syrah is just as desirable and is one of my favorite bottlings from this small family producer based in the western edges of the Anderson Valley. The Perli 2018 is pure sexy Syrah in the glass, inviting from its purple/ruby color to the outstanding aftertaste, plus all in between, showing blackberry, damson plum, currant jam, tangy blueberry and kirsch flavors that leads the energetic array in the mouth along with cayenne (peppery) spice, licorice, light cedary wood, Greek olives, a cool tone of iron/mineral, crushed flowers, espresso and burnt embers. The 2018 vintage is outrageously good at Drew, and most of California for that matter, and his latest Perli Syrah is definitely spotlights this long cool growing season with a polished, almost silky, personality and fully developed (ripe) varietal characteristics that excites all the senses, making it both thrilling and elegant, especially when enjoyed with robust cuisine that brings out even more flourish. This is obviously a wine that has potential to age gracefully for two decades, but can still be opened even now without any penalty or fear of missing its best side, it is ultra delicious even in its youth, truly impressive stuff.

The Perli Vineyard, as Drew notes, comes from hillside vines that were planted about 20 years ago with the Syrah being the McDowell selection and the 877 clones, is 10 miles from the ocean and is perched at close to 2,200 feet above sea level on thin and steep north east facing slope. The Ornbaun soils here are a unique combination that gives this wine its soul, consisting of shale, fractured sandstone and rhyolite with some sandy loams. The McDowell selection, as Jason adds, is notable as it is the oldest field selection of Syrah in North America, brought into California to the San Jose Mission in 1880 and later planted on the McDowell Ranch in Mendocino County in 1902. This very lovely cool climate Syrah, with a nod to Cote-Rotie, is co-fermented with close to 5% Viognier in the traditional style of one of the Northern Rhone Valley’s most legendary places. The winemaking at Drew is always transparent and artisan in nature with a gentle touch to allow for a terroir driven profile with this Perli Syrah seeing 100% native yeast and 50% whole-cluster fermentation with just the right amount of fiery stem inclusion and was aged solely in a neutral French Oak Puncheon for 14 months. There is plenty of vivacious natural acidity to provide lift and balance in this 2018 version and while concentrated and fine tuned, the 13.8% alcohol shows that this Syrah has a serious punch and the grapes were picked at just the right time, as perfect and perfect can be, to make this sublime wine one of the best in the state. In my opinion, Syrah still is the unrivaled champion of the best red wine in California for the quality to price ratio, especially the Drew offerings, this Perli and the Valenti Ranch, which join a fabulous and diverse group of elite California cool climate Syrah producers, including wines by, Pax, Halcon, Piedrasassi, Andrew Murray, Desire Lines Wine Co., Sandlands, Cattleya, Pisoni, Roar, Samuel Louis Smith, Jolie-Laide, Stolpman, Joyce, Storm Wines, Lagier-Merideth and Big Basin, to name just a few. If you want world class Syrah, easily rivaling the best from France, California has it, and this Drew is one hell of a wine for the money, don’t miss it.
($48 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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