2015 Filomena Wine Company, Syrah, Griffin’s Lair Vineyard, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma Coast.
California’s new generation of winemakers, like Luke Nio, who works for Bedrock Wine Co and has just launched his own label Filomena Wine Company, are re-imagining the whole industry and it is fantastic to have a front row seat to this revolution and to taste the incredible fruits of their efforts, this is the most exciting time in American wine in my lifetime, and considering the uncertain market conditions, this is amazing to witness and taste, especially when the wines are as fantastic as Nio’s Griffin’s Lair Syrah! Quite honestly, tasted blind, this Filomena Wine Company Griffin’s Lair Syrah, could easily could be mistaken for a top Cote-Rotie with its gorgeous deep purple/black hue and heady array of scents on the nose with violets, incense, leather, black and blue fruits, wild dried herbs, cedar and mure (blackberry liqueur) all unfolding before the full bodied palate that echos the bouquet adding boysenberry, black plum, mission figs, creme de cassis, mocha, a hint of game and blueberry tanginess. This is exceptional Syrah that takes on classic Northern Rhone savory (highlighting the stem inclusion) tones and mineral notes as it opens providing wonderful balance of depth of ripe fruit with the contrasting earthiness and umami elements with peppercorns and anise adding to that thrill, while the mouth feel is luxurious, again in the mold of Guigal’s Chateau d’Ampuis and Chapoutier’s Le Meal Emitage! This Griffin’s Lair, from a top Syrah cru site, sustainably farmed, in the Petaluma Gap with its diverse soils formed by moving fault lines and cooled by ocean breezes and the proximity to the San Pablo Bay, is a wine of place and passion, it certainly appeals to Syrah lovers and will go great with loads of meal options from brisket to lamb, as well as wild mushroom dishes.

Luke Nio’s Filomena Wine Company Griffin’s Lair Syrah was traditionally fermented using 100% whole cluster, and the carefully sorted bunches were foot trod, and Luke allowed indigenous yeast to complete primary, with this complex and riveting Syrah seeing an extended maceration and daily pilage. This very limited wine, Nio’s first solo effort for his Filomena Wine Company label was then aged 16 months in a neutral 500L French oak puncheon and then rested 3 years in bottle, while he set up his micro winery. While Syrah may never get the attention it deserves in California, there is no question in my mind that it offers the greatest quality for the money in the state and in America, especially when you add some of the sublime Washington State examples, and right now there is some stellar offerings available to prove my point, wines like this one and as well as many, many others like Jason Drew’s in Anderson Valley’s Mendocino Ridge, Halcon Vineyards Yorkville Highlands, Samuel Louis Smith’s from the South Santa Cruz Mountains, Big Basin’s estate bottlings, Joyce Wine Co.’s Tondre Grapefield, Nio’s comrade Cody Rasmussen’s Desire Line Wines versions, one from Griffin’s Lair as well along with his Shake Ridge, Jolie-Laide, Arnot-Roberts, Cattleya, Peay Vineyards, Stolpman, Sling | Stone Wines, Storm Wines, Bedrock (even though known for Zin, Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Syrah wines are awesome!), Andrew Murray, Sheldon Wines as well as long time stars like John Alban, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon, Pax, Booker, Sashi Moorman of Piedrasassi, Jeff Pisoni of Lucia Vineyards and Adam Tolmach of Ojai Vineyards to name a few, forgive me for missing a bunch of other stars that deserve to be listed here too! These wines are every bit as exciting and as good as their prestigious French cousins that inspired them, all with distinct personalities and character. The Filomena Wine Company is a list to get on as soon as possible, these first two releases are outstanding, in particular this richly detailed Griffin’s Lair Vineyard, a fabulous terroir driven wine and Nio’s carbonic St. Lauren, which I reviewed here recently.
($42 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

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