2019 Desire Lines Wine Co. Syrah, Griffin’s Lair, Petaluma Gap AVA, Sonoma County.
The heady, deeply purple and dark fruited 2019 Griffin’s Lair Syrah, from the talented Cody Rasmussen at Desire Lines, really hits the spot with a profound palate impact, loads of Umami, and Northern Rhône style in the glass with pure aromatics, structured concentration and fabulous length. Griffin’s Lair, set on gravel and clay loamy soils always gets those “Gap” chilly breezes and cooling influences which allows deep ripe flavors, but with vivid detail and good acidity. I’ve been a fan of Rasmussen’s stuff since I first tasted his wines, especially his Syrah and Riesling wines, both of which are right up there with the very best in the state. The full bodied 2019 is packed with boysenberry, damson plum, black cherry and blueberry (compote) fruits, along with crushed violets, a punch of savory, almost meaty, earthy elements, wild herbs, anise, peppercorns, a hint of tapenade and subtle cedary wood. This vintage is wonderfully rounded, ripe and generous, but still firm and youthful, so while it was excellent, in particular with food, last night, it has even more potential and promise for another 7 to 10 years in bottle. Desire Lines does a sublime collection of small lot wines, all from unique vineyards and terroirs, that offer up incredible value for the quality, I especially love their 2018 and 2019 reds, including this one, that way over delivers for the price, it’s a wine that is well worth searching out, I wish I had bought more.

Cody and Emily Rasmussen’s Desire Line Wine Co., as I’ve mentioned, is one of the most exciting new(er) California labels, and their Syrah bottlings are simply outstanding, especially this one and the Shake Ridge version, which I reviewed most recently. Cody, the winemaker, who along with his childhood sweetheart Emily moved from Iowa to Sonoma in 2011 hit the ground running, starting as an harvest intern that fall and by next harvest he was drafted into the assistant winemaker’s position at Morgan Twain-Peterson’s (MW) Bedrock Wine Co., one of the state’s best producers. That is an epic rise and shows the passion and work ethic on Rasmussen’s part. After the better part of a decade now at Bedrock and working with great vineyards, Cody started sourcing grapes for his own lineup, all top notch sites for the varietals he loves, which are a savvy Rhone mix with mostly Syrah, but working with Mourvèdre and Carignan, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, and an exceptional set Rieslings, some of the best yet from California. This Griffin’s Lair Syrah, according to Rasmussen, which is usually fermented with about 50% whole cluster, with a submerged cap, like Domaine Jamet, for the first half of fermentation, after which it got raised in neutral large format barrels, with 500L puncheons, for 15 months before bottling without fining or filtration. Again, I highly recommend getting on the mailing list here, as these very limited offerings sell out fast, and don’t miss the Syrah(s), the Evangelho Vineyard red wine, the Cole Ranch Riesling and the serious old vine Mourvèdre based Fred’s Home Block.
($42 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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