2019 Desire Lines Wine Co., Syrah, Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County – Sierra Foothills.
The exotic and richly layered 2019 Desire Lines Shake Ridge Ranch Syrah is a fabulous effort, in line with some top notch Northern Rhône bottlings, with this vintage having real Hermitage like presence in the glass, but with velvety tannins not unlike the Jim Barry Armah Shiraz, making for a wine to enjoy now, but that has the stuffing to age decades! The dense palate shows off a quiet mineral intensity and plush black and blue fruits with boysenberry, damson plum, Italian cherry, Mission fig and blueberry compote filling the mouth, while hints of pepper, crushed stone, camphor, violets, anise and mountain sage play backing roles. Tasting this Syrah, makes understand why it is one of the jewels in the Desire Lines lineup and one of winemaker Cody Rasmussen’s signature offerings, along with his Cornas like Griffin’s Lair Syrah, it is one of the best wines for the money I’ve tasted in recent years. Rasmussen, who is also a winemaker at Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Wine Co, is inspired by old world wines and techniques, like here he used plenty of whole-cluster, native yeasts and ages in larger used wood, preferring Puncheons of 400L and 500L (sizes) for his Syrahs and his Mourvèdre wines. The maceration, for the Shake Ridge Syrah, included lots of punch downs and full extraction that shows in the depth and intensity of flavors and the umami background with subtle briny/meaty notes adds to the thrills and wow factor here, in this beauty. The sexy purple/inky 2019, which I waited to open is just now really melding together nicely and my only complaint is that I didn’t buy more, along with Rasmussen’s stellar lineup of Rieslings!

The vines at Shake Ridge, as I noted in prior reviews, are planted in the once gold-rich soils that birthed the modern state of California, and are cared for by one of the finest farmers in California with the help of her whole family. Ann Kraemer, who is legend in her field, continues a long tradition of pioneering, scientifically-minded viticulturalists in Amador County, and she supplies grapes to some of California’s most exciting winemakers. The wines from here are rich and ripe, but also sublimely balanced due to the chilly nights here, as Desire Lines winemaker Cordy Rasmussen explains the hot daytime temperatures are moderated by upslope breezes, and once the sun sets temperatures fall dramatically, by as much as 50F, giving the vines loads of refreshment, as colder temperatures cascade down from the Sierras.There is a distinct terroir here and Kraemer farms to enhance its influence, as Rasmussen goes on, the rich geological history of the Sierra Foothills is evident at every road-cut revealing schist, Mariposa slate, greenstone, and marble, and in the vineyard rows at Shake Ridge, all of this plays a part, and where sizable chunks of quartz just litter the ground. I followed this wine throughout an evening, constantly marveling at its every changing charm and allure with the whole cluster edginess never intruding on the hedonistic pleasure and it was fantastic with food, playing a supporting part and taking center stage when the fork was down, this is exceptional Syrah that is more about place and vineyard than varietal alone. Those that love Chave, Chapoutier and Guigal will be blown away by the quality you’ll find here with this Shake Ridge bottling by Rasmussen, and the price is insane.
($36 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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