2014 Domaine de la Terre Rouge, Syrah, High Slopes, Sierra Foothills.
Bill Easton’s 2014 Domaine de la Terre Rouge High Slopes Syrah is a beauty with full evolved character and mature flavors with dried violets, black olive, tertiary earthy notes and smooth layers of Syrah fruit, spice, soft wood and mineral tones, absolutely delicious with grilled meats and sausages, and a reminder of how good these Sierra Foothills can be, especially with some age. The full bodied palate still has a nice burst of freshness to it, but has classic maturity on display with a peppery bramble bite behind the lush blackberry, damson plum, creme de cassis and dusty cherry fruit, all accented by touches of cedar, licorice, smoky graphite, leather, crushed gun flint and wild sage. It’s time to drink this fine effort up in the next 2 to 3 years before a stewy reduction takes over from the fresher fruit that is still holding on as of now. Bill Easton and Steve Edmonds, in the 1990s really pioneered the high elevation Rhone inspired Syrahs, grown on rock strewn hillsides in the Sierra Foothills, making some incredible wines, and this 2014 High Slopes brings back memories of those impressive efforts. This “High Slopes” Syrah is made from vineyard sites that are near or exceed the 3,000 foot elevation on granite, schist and quartz stony soils and it shows off that terroir in the glass.

A long time Rhone Ranger, Bill Easton, has an impressive lineup of wines, mostly under his Domaine de la Terre Rouge label, dedicated to Rhone varietals as well as his Easton label that has Zinfandel and Barbera as its major players, but his Syrahs are his signature wines and this High Slopes is one of his top bottlings. For bargain hunters I also suggest checking out Easton’s fabulous Rhone style red blend, the Tete a Tete, where he uses Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache to good effect, making a Cotes du Rhone Village style wine that is dense, lively and easy to love. The Terre Rouge winery was founded in the late 80s by husband and wife team Bill Easton and Jane O’Riordan and is located on the West Slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Amador County’s Shenandoah Valley. As mentioned, Bill was one of the original Rhône Rangers and helped pioneer the Rhône varietals in the Sierra Foothills and he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhône Rangers in 2016. It should also be noted that In the late 70’s Easton founded the famous Solano Cellars, a wine shop in Berkeley, California, that specialized in small artisan producers from around the world, which helped him gain insights and perspective that clearly still has a profound influence on his wines. The High Slopes Syrah is from a small of sites and is a very limited barrel selection and crafted with a mind to show off its sense of place and I highly recommend it for Syrah lovers.
($50 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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