2019 Theopolis Vineyards, Petite Sirah, Estate, Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County.
The outrageously exciting and delicious 2019 Theopolis Estate Petite Sirah is maybe my favorite vintage to date from Theodora Lee and her this iconic terraced vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands with a marriage of pure California fruit and a almost Northern Rhone spicy complexity that is in totally harmony here, while providing a thrilling tension and unique experience. Fermented with 35% whole clusters in open top stainless steel tanks and seeing a full extraction and lengthy maceration that as given a hedonistic richness with the nice contrasting crunchy whole bunch savory tones. To allow for maturity and supple tannins the latest Theopolis Petite was aged in 30% new French Oak barrels for 20 months and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. There is a lot to unpack on the nose and palate here with a heady mix of deep fruit, florals and intense spices with layers of black brambly raspberry, damson plum, blueberry and kirsch along with cracked peppercorns, tapenade, mineral and cedary toast wood accents. This full bodied wine has an inky color in the glass and opens up to reveal a well structured backbone, but with a sense of chocolatey round tannins as well as lingering with peony and creme de cassis, making for a fabulous pure Petite Shirah experience that is best enjoyed with robust cuisine, with Theodora saying it is an excellent pairing with smoked brisket, braised short ribs, grilled steak, and wild game.

As mentioned in my prior reviews, Theodora Lee’s Theopolis Vineyards is one of the top sites for Petite Sirah in California, her vines hug steep terraces in the Yorkville Highlands and have received amazing critical acclaim since being established in 2003, with her success first coming from the wines made by Mike Officer at Carlisle, and more recently with Paul Gordon’s Halcon version. Her own wines, which I first started tasting with her 2013 vintage have really started get dialed in as the vineyard matures and I like the direction a lot with their exciting edgy quality really grabbing my attention, especially in this 2019 version, of which just under 400 cases were made, that also saw a reduction in new wood used, something I think benefits the finished product and allows for some more subtle background flavors to emerge. Theodora Lee, who has had the help of long time Roar winemaker and Santa Lucia Highlands specialist Ed Kurtzman, has created something remarkably special and their full collection of offerings, which include some small Pinots and more recently some red blended wines, as well as her unique Petite Sirah Rosé and an off dry white made from a rare grape called Symphony, a crossing of, as Theodora notes, Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris, it was, she adds, developed in 1948 (but not commercially released until 1982) by the late Harold Olmo, professor of viticulture at the University of California, Davis. This is a winery to watch and this is a wine to search out and to enjoy over the next decade, this is impressive stuff again, right up my alley, and I look forward to see how it develops.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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