2016 Samuel Louis Smith Wines, Syrah, Sandstone Terrace, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The long hang time and unique soils of the southern Santa Cruz Mountains, especially in the Corralitos area makes for a new hot spot for Syrah, it brings out the true cool climate character and lively focus and Sam Smith, winemaker at Morgan Winery, has now released a brilliant 2016 vintage Syrah from here. After moving here to take over the winemaker duties at Dan Lee’s Morgan, Smith has made a serious impact both with Morgan’s latest offerings and his own label Samuel Louis Smith Wines, where he is expressing his own creative forces, he came to Monterey from the Santa Barbara area where he helped many awesome wines realize their potential including some fantastic wines from Margerum, from what I’ve tasted so far are classy wines with lovely transparency, especially this brand new 2016 Sandstone Terrace Syrah, named for some of the underlying soil where this wine was grown. This Syrah is bursting with pretty layers of blue and black fruits, dark floral tones and an array of spice, mineral and subtle savory tones along with a low alcohol feel and inner brightness, while still offering a textural mouth feel and fullness. Smith used about a third whole cluster in this Syrah and aged it in 25% new Francois Freres (1 new barrique) along with a few used Ermitage barrels (only 97 cases, four barrels made) and it was bottled unfined and unfiltered, coming across on the detailed palate like a Saint-Joseph or baby Cote-Rotie, it’s 13.6% natural alcohol is perfect for the wine’s weight and purpose allowing a touch of heady perfume, ripe flavors and stylish lift (acidity) found in this well crafted red. The deep purple/black hue is sexy in the glass and with air this wine’s potential and complexity comes into view with damson plum, boysenberry, black olive, acacia flowers, peppercorns, sage, smoky vanilla and meaty notes cascading in a youthful fashion. Smith has a few library wines from his time in Santa Barbara, in particular his glorious Radian Sta. Rita Hills Pinot, it’s a do not miss small production wine, as well as his new releases like this Syrah, as well as his Albatross Ridge Pinot Noir from Garret Bowlus’ Carmel Valley estate, all of which merit your attention. Samuel Smith is great new addition to Monterey’s winemaker community and his talents are welcome in this new generation era here, it’s exciting times for Monterey’s youthful winemakers, and this is a label to follow.
($33 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

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