2020 Desire Lines Wine Co, Syrah, Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County, Sierra Foothills.
The Shake Ridge Syrah from winemaker Cody Rasmussen is an ultra expressive California wine and this alluringly purple 2020 edition is wonderfully concentrated, supple and complex with a heightened perfume and a long beautiful finish. Rasmussen sourced the grapes from the Shake Ridge Ranch, in Amador County, which was first planted in 2003, and as he says, under the careful eye of Ann Kraemer, one of the state’s best vineyard managers. Kraemer worked for many years as a vineyard manager and consulting viticulturalist for the likes of Domaine Chandon, Swanson, Cain, Calera, Hobbs, and others, as well as putting time in the southern hemisphere too, where she has gained incredible expertise in growing outstanding grapes, as this wine demonstrates. Even though not an old site, the fruit from here is clearly spectacular and Cody has done a masterful job of putting into the bottle here with opulent black boysenberry, blueberry, damson plum, black cherry and Mission fig fruits on the full bodied palate, in this almost Guigal style Cote-Rotie like wine that also has crushed violets, anise, sandalwood, peppery spices and lingering creme de cassis. Tasting this Syrah, makes understand why it is one of the jewels in the Desire Lines lineup and one of Rasmussen’s signature offerings, along with his Cornas like Griffin’s Lair Syrah, it is one of the best wines for the money I’ve tasted in recent years. Rasmussen, who is also a winemaker at Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Wine Co, is inspired by old world wines and techniques, like here he used plenty of whole-cluster, native yeasts and ages in larger used wood, preferring Puncheons of 400L and 500L (sizes) for his Syrahs and his Mourvèdre wines. The maceration included lots of punch downs and full extraction that shows in the depth and intensity of flavors and the umami background with subtle briny/meaty notes adds to the thrills and wow factor here, in this beauty.

Cody Rasmussen says, the 2020 vintage in the Sierra Foothills of Amador County was a warm one, and his thinks you actually can sense the warm August nights in the lush mouthfeel and extra dash of olive brine on the nose, here in his Shake Ridge Ranch Vineyard Syrah, which as I have also mentioned is his most exotic effort. Rasmussen goes on to say, the vines at Shake Ridge are planted in the once gold-rich soils that birthed the modern state of California, and are cared for by one of the finest farmers in California with the help of her whole family. Ann Kraemer, who is legend in her field, continues a long tradition of pioneering, scientifically-minded viticulturalists in Amador County, and she supplies grapes to some of California’s most exciting winemakers. The wines from here are rich and ripe, but also sublimely balanced due to the chilly nights here, Cordy explains the hot daytime temperatures are moderated by upslope breezes, and once the sun sets temperatures fall dramatically, by as much as 50F, giving the vines loads of refreshment, as colder temperatures cascade down from the Sierras.There is a distinct terroir here and Kraemer farms to enhance its influence, as Rasmussen goes on, the rich geological history of the Sierra Foothills is evident at every roadcut revealing schist, Mariposa slate, greenstone, and marble, and in the vineyard rows at Shake Ridge, all of this plays a part, and where sizable chunks of quartz just litter the ground. With air the Shake Ridge Syrah adds salty meaty notes and the florals burst from the glass, all folding together with the natural fruit density in the mouth, making for a gorgeous wine that lacks for nothing and is an outrageous value, super impressive, especially in this warm year and one that saw other regions suffer with smoke. This inky 2020 Shake Ridge has a burst of natural acidity and at about 14% it feels prestigious rather than big or porty, highlighting the quality of the grapes and the winemaker’s gift. Rasmussen as you will know by now, if you’ve read my grapelive.com reviews, also makes some of the greatest California Rieslings you’ll find and I highly recommend getting on the mailing list here!
($36 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

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