2014 Desire Lines Wine Co., Syrah “Experimental Series No. 1 The Gift” Eaglepoint Ranch Vineyard, Mendocino County.
The beautiful and complexly layered 2014 Eaglepoint Ranch Syrah from Cody Rasmussen at Desire Lines Wine Co. is really hitting its stride right now and again proves why this is a label to watch and get in on, with this late release offering being an exceptional wine with classic Syrah varietal character with some old school Cote-Rotie charm with dark fruit, spice and floral dimension. This Experimental Series No. 1 was the first wine Rasmussen, who is a winemaker at Morgan Twain-Peterson MW’s famous Bedrock Wine Co., ever made on his own, which he says was thanks to the incredibly generous gift of one ton of Syrah from Morgan and Chris Cottrel, his partner, to allow him to experiment and try to learn something. Obviously Rasmussen is a talented winemaker and he has taken to it like a duck to water and in recent vintages has proved himself one of the best new Syrah producers in California, especially his Griffin’s Lair and Shake Ridge bottlings. This 2014 Syrah shows loads of expressive California fruit with blackberry, boysenberry, plum and blueberry being pumped out on the full bodied palate, but there is a core of old world style complexity too with hints of leather, game and peppercorns as well as melted black licorice, crushed violets, kirsch (cherry liqueur), rosemary herbal notes, Spanish olive tapenade, cedar and dusty coco powder. The tannin is present, but have turned supple and the texture is rounded making this stem influenced Syrah a delight in the glass with a seductive purple/black/garnet hue and a long sultry and savory finish, best enjoyed with food, I recommend lamb kabobs, hard sheep cheeses or herb roasted chicken over bitter greens.

The Experimental Series No. 1 The Gift comes from grapes sourced from Eaglepoint Ranch Vineyard in Mendocino County that was first planted in the early seventies with Syrah coming in 1989, it is a beautiful and remote site that straddles hillsides about 1800 feet above the Ukiah Valley. This vineyard is highly regarded and has been the long used for quality Syrah by small and large producers and its decomposed sandstone soils with veins of red loam and loose gravelly stones adds to the personality with the cool nights helping preserve lively acidity. Rasmussen chose to do 100% whole cluster for fermentation in this tiny micro batch wine, with only pigeage (foot-treading) for his cap management with what I believe was native yeasts and decided on no sulfur addition until bottling. This Syrah saw an extended aging regime with a long élevage, which Cody adds was to soften and polish his first solo effort, with 20 months in a neutral French demi-muid, large cask, that was followed by 2 months in stainless barrels prior to bottling to settle and clarify the Syrah. With just 20 ppm sulfur at bottling an ultra low dose for protective stability, was in fact the smallest amount he’s gone with to date and gives the wine a freshness of detail much the same as the top guys in the Northern Rhone see in their versions. There is a lot is admire in this wine and the Desire Lines Wine Co. lineup is full of confident wines from Rasmussen’s tasty dry Cole Ranch Riesling to his juicy Carignan and Mourvedre blend, but as mentioned these Syrah(s) are something exquisite and special, they are lovely terroir driven wines that will blow you away, again I suggest making an early move to join this list and grab them while you can, I first discovered their Griffin’s Lair 2016 Syrah last year and it made my top ten wines of the year, don’t miss them.
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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