2019 Jolie-Laide, Syrah, Halcon Vineyard, Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County.
One of California’s best young winemakers and one of California’s most unique and prized vineyard sites are brought together again here with this 2019 Jolie-Laide Halcon Syrah, which is everything I would have expected and more with the vintage providing all the complexity and fruit density in the grapes and winemaker Scott Schultz’s gentle touch guiding things to the bottle, allowing this wine to show its brilliance. The Halcon site, which was recently sold by Paul and Jackie Gordon to Schultz’s former boss Pax Mahle, is a dramatic high elevation vineyard that has a natural climate that is very comparable to Ampuis (Cote-Rotie) in France’s Northern Rhone and the wines made from this vineyard share Syrah’s historical characteristics, as this one does, with layers of meaty and feral purity of this varietal, showing dark berry coulis, creme de cassis, damson plum and kirsch, along with spicy peppercorns and shaved cinnamon, olive tapenade, burnt embers, truffle and tarry black licorice on the taut, but supple full bodied palate. This year has giving this Jolie-Laide Syrah loads of pleasure, expressive flavors and beautiful violet and peony Floral aromatics with just enough umami or savory whole cluster earthiness to balance everything to near perfection. This vintage feels silken and polished in the mouth, though there’s plenty of natural acidity and muscle here, so it looks to be a rewarding wine for those with the patience to cellar it. These 2019s from Jolie-Laide, a natural style inspired winery based in Sonoma, are excellent and well sourced from elite vineyard sites throughout the state, with Schultz’s Sierra Foothills Gamay, the Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre/Viognier, Shake Ridge Vineyard Red and this Halcon Syrah being my favorites. This is a wine that really benefits from a robust and hearty meal, especially lamb or grilled meat dishes, which will soften the tannin and fully reveal all the depth here.

The Jolie-Laide label is Scott Schultz’s almost one-man operation based in a Sebastopol, as noted here, has gained a reputation for well made and geeky cool wines in recent years, his Syrah wines being nothing but exceptional, crafted using old school traditional methods. The Jolie-Laide wines are authentic efforts and offer loads of class and distinction, all with a clean and transparent profiles. As mentioned in my prior reviews, Scott Schultz moved to Napa from Chicago in 2007 with mostly fine dinning experience in the restaurant business on his resume, which first led him into a position at famous chef Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in Napa’s Yountville, where he became head of their wine program. Scott fell in love with California wines and gained winemaking experience while working with Arnot-Roberts and Ryme Cellars, two modern new generation wineries, well known for their quality juice, before he joined Pax Mahle at Windgap and Pax Wine Cellars, one of the most famous Syrah producers we have in California. In recent years, Schultz has added some very cool stuff to his lineup, like his Freisa, made from that rare Piedmonte red grape as well as his Chalone sourced Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet’s white grape), both of which have reviewed already. The Halcon vines, set on schist soils, are way up at above 2,000 feet and gets a blast of cold ocean air, making for late ripening, low alcohol levels and fresh detailing, with plenty of mountain grip that provides a nice backbone to this wine, this vineyard has produced some of my favorite wines over the last decade. At Jolie-Laide, most all the grapes here all crushed by foot trodding and then fermented using 100% whole clusters and indigenous yeasts, with a regime of gentle punch-downs and long cool macerations. The aging of this dark purple and deep garnet Syrah wine was exclusively done in well used French oak barrels, all to showcase these great terroirs, with this wine getting about a year of elevage and was bottled unfined to preserve all the raw nuances. If you’ve not have the Jolie-Laide wines yet, it is a great time to discover them and or join their mailing list.
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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