2018 Desire Lines Wine Co, Syrah, Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County, Sierra Foothills.
If you’ve not discovered Cody Rasmussen’s wines yet, you really should do your best to change that and especially his Desire Lines Wine Co Syrah bottlings from Griffin’s Lair and this awesome Shake Ridge Ranch Vineyard version, a wine that is uniquely Californian and full of terroir expression with an inky and sexy color, incredible energy and depth of dark fruits, these are some of the greatest values in the state. I first tried Rasmussen’s Shake Ridge Ranch Syrah with his 2016 release, and I was blown away, but this 2018 takes it too the next level, his diligence and a slight tweaking of the winemaking to better get a grip with this amazing vineyard site has really paid off here. For the 2018 vintage, Cody adjusted the use of whole cluster, plus adding a tiny amount of co-fermentted Viognier, a la Cote-Rotie, and the elevage, adding a touch of new wood, to get the best out of the site and you can see the glorious results in the glass with deep layering on the full bodied palate that shows blackberry, sweet plum, kirsch and blueberry compote fruits, plus creme de cassis, anise, sandalwood, dark florals, smoky mineral, brambly spices, light herbal notes and an underlying tannic backbone that feels muscular, but perfectly integrated. This is a wine that is just coming to life and it is absolutely brilliant, it especially gets rocking with food, in my case it went fabulous with marinated flank steaks and rosemary roasted potatoes and veggies as well as hard basque cheeses. This deep purple hued and powerfully structured 2018 saw the use of a large Taransaud barrel, which adds a luxurious toastiness to this already well polished and opulent effort, this wine has embraced its expressive nature without being over the top, it way over delivers for the price and is one of the bargains of the year so far.
Cody and Emily Rasmussen started their own micro-winery and label, Desire Lines Wine Co. with a small batch of Syrah in 2014 and now has a wonderful collection of dry Riesling, a Mourvedre, a Carignan based blend, a Cabernet Sauvignon and the mentioned Syrahs, which are the signature wines of the winery. Rasmussen, who is a winemaker at Morgan Twain-Peterson’s famous Bedrock Wine Company, has been searching out unique vineyard sites in California and this Shake Ridge Ranch Vineyard is truly a great location and is farmed by the Ann Kraemer, a pioneering legend in the Sierra Foothills, who is also a consulting viticulturalist for Domaine Chandon, Swanson, Cain, Calera, Paul Hobbs, and Shafer, to name a few and set on geological wonderland of soils with schist, Mariposa slate, greenstone, and marble, and as Rasmussen notes, within the vineyard rows at Shake Ridge there are big chunks of quartz that litter the ground. The Sierra Foothills has a warm climate, but here at this elevation sees a huge day to night swing with the vines getting a nice cool rest during the dark hours, helping retain natural acidity, which is evident here is this vintage. This vineyard is planted to classic Rhone Varietals and has become a mecca for winemakers with Rasmussen getting certain blocks of Syrah with two genetic clones going into his Shake Ridge Syrah, with a clonal split of Syrah Noir and clone 470, with this year’s wine seeing more of the Syrah Noir than in prior efforts, along with the small percentage of Viognier, which Cody says helps color and aromatics. Made with each parcel getting its own amount of whole cluster from 30-100% and all native yeasts, it got a cool and gentle maceration with a wet cap and daily hand punch-downs before pressing to a combination of one new 500L puncheon (making for about 30% new) and used French oak barrels for aging. There is a lot to admire here and this Shake Ridge Syrah looks like it has a long and gorgeous life ahead of it, as I said, this is a great time to get these wines.
($36 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive