2019 Samuel Louis Smith Wines, Syrah “Serine Sauvage” Coastview Vineyard, Gabilan Mountains, Monterey County.
The spine tingling beautiful and opaquely purple Serine Sauvage Syrah by Sam Smith is a cool climate and mountain wine that thrills the senses with violets, peony and feral earthy elements on the deep bouquet along with grippy black and blue fruits, leading with briar laced boysenberry, damson plum and tangy blueberry on the medium to full bodied palate that is accented with snappy peppercorns, wild sage, tapenade, cedar, creme de cassis and anise. This is classic northern Rhone style Syrah with fantastic purity and whole cluster crunch, influenced by granite soils and hillside vines, which are set up in the Gabilan Mountains that see cooling winds off the Monterey Bay allowing for gorgeous fruit density and opulence, while retaining vibrant acidity and elegant lower alcohol.as Sam’s Serine Sauvage shows divinely with just 13.3 % natural alcohol in a wine that has tremendous depth and presence in the glass with solid structural tannin, all of which makes for a wine with great potential to age. Smith’s latest set of releases are highly appealing wines that are sensual and brilliantly balanced, I especially love his Spear Vineyard Chardonnay, which is absolutely one of my favorite California white wines, as well as his Montanita de Oro Pinot Noir and both of his Syrah bottlings, the Santa Cruz Mountains Sandstone Terraces and this Coastview Serine Sauvage, which is extremely limited with only 35 cases made and looks to be a wine club only wine. So it looks to be a good time to get on the list here at Samuel Louis Smith Wines, these hand crafted small lot wines are well worth searching out.

Sam Smith, who is the head winemaker at Monterey’s Morgan Winery, first starting getting attention while a winemaker at Margerum in Santa Barbara County and many of his early (own) wines were sourced from top sites in the Sta. Rita Hills. Smith’s efforts at Morgan has transformed this label, putting the new lineup right up there with some of very best of the Santa Lucia Highlands, especially the 2018s from their organic Double L Estate Vineyard with his single clone wines being some of the most desirable of the vintage with the Clone 96 Chardonnay and especially the Pinots, which show luxurious flavors and textural excellence. Sam has a passion for Syrah and has done a pilgrimage to Hermitage and the surrounding spiritual home of Syrah, Cornas, Saint-Joseph and Cote-Rotie, where he was clearly influenced by the likes of some of the regions legends, Alain Graillot, Francois Villard and Pierre Gonon, to name a few. In recent years, cool climate Syrah has seen a renaissance and a change of generation has brought a wealth of great choices and Sam’s wines are some of the best out there, joining Halcon, Desire Lines, Drew, Big Basin (who also does a sublime version from Coastview), Pax, Jolie-Laide and Greg Brewer’s new Ex Post Facto. The 2019 Serine Sauvage, named for the ancient historic Serine clone of Syrah and Sauvage for the grape’s wild nature, was fermented 100% whole cluster with indigenous yeast with a gentle foot trod and daily pump-overs in a small bin before being aged just over a year in neutral French oak barrels. A big thank you to Sam for giving me a sneak preview of this delicious and perfumed wine, though it did reduce me to begging for any bottles not spoken for!
($45 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

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