2012bigbasinrattlesnake2012 Big Basin Vineyards, Syrah, Rattlesnake Rock Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Bradley Brown’s Big Basin Vineyard wines are compelling and rewarding wines, especially his estate Rattlesnake Rock Syrah, which is one of the most interesting and terroir driven examples of this varietal in California! Inspired by the great wines of the Northern Rhone, the Big Basin Rattlesnake Rock Syrah is a field blend of Brown’s oldest vines on south facing slopes at about 1,400 feet above sea level set in mineral laced soils with shale, iron and sandstone at the core with lose clay and loam topsoil, it’s cool site with ocean influences, windy and a severe drop in temps at night, planted mostly to Alban clone or Cote-Rotie clone.The 225 case small production 2012 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah was fermented using organic grapes, indigenous yeasts with a tiny amount of whole cluster with about 2% Viognier with gentle hand punchdowns and a long cold soak to extract the full expression of the vineyard, then aged about two years in French oak. The wine also gets a year longer, if not two years longer in bottle than most Syrah, this adds to the integration of this beautiful wine and allows the full array of detail and aromatics to be display, 2012 was a great vintage for this region and it is full of richness, fruit layers and ripe tannin, making for a meduim/full red of depth and structure. This site produces a powerful wine, but Brown’s 2012 shows an extra level of finesse and poise to go along with the classic nature of this Syrah, it reminds me of the 2007, one of the first wines I had by Big Basin and a legendary one for those lucky enough to have had or have, it has lovely floral notes, black fruit and a wonderful mix of mineral, spice, savory elements and subtle wood shadings, firm, but gorgeous in mouth feel and length, this is seriously sensual and otherworldly stuff. Crushed violets, minty basil leaf, cracked peppercorns and creme de cassis lead the way with a core of boysenberry, loganberry, wild plum and kirsch as well as gravel, sticky lavender, cedar, clove, fig sauce, smoky vanilla and saline laced anise. Complex, textured and vibrant the 2012 Rattlesnake Rock is just beginning it’s journey toward it’s potential, it’s dark purple/black and garnet hues and opulence make for a hedonistic young wine, but given 5 to 7 years more it should really be hitting it’s stride, this is brilliant from Big Basin. It was great to catch up with Bradley at a recent tasting, I’ve been to his winery more than a few times and have been a long time admirer of his efforts, be sure to also look for his set of current releases of Pinot Noir, in particular his Alfaro Family Vineyard 2014, as well as his awesome Rhone (Syrah & Grenache) bottlings.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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