2018 Odonata, Syrah, Hook Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
This beautiful black fruited, spicy, floral and delicately earthy Odonata Syrah, coming from the Santa Lucia Highland’s sandy/loamy decomposed granite soils and see the Pacific Ocean’s cooling influences, saw a gentle and careful maceration with hand pilage and partial whole cluster to highlight similar characteristics as seen in the Northern Rhone to impressive effect, really capturing the best this vintage had to offer. 2018, a cool vintage with an even ripening period has to be consider one of the best in Monterey County in the last 20 years or so, especially for varietals like Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and winemaker Denis Hoey really nailed it across his lineup with this one in particular showing great right now, and looks to have the potential to age nicely well into the future, though so delicious at the moment, no patience required. The medium to full bodied palate, of this dark garnet inky Syrah, has a taut frame, but a generous core of blackberry, brambly berry, blueberry, plum and cherry fruits along with hints of black olive, anise, dark coco, peppercorns and crushed violets, with some savory punch and lingering creme de cassis. The use of very well seasoned oak allows for purity and transparency here, which adds pop to this Syrah and the natural acidity provides a significant lift, taking away any sense of heaviness, making this a gem with food, especially hearty dishes. The Hook Vineyard, which has a selection of Rhone varietals, including a mature plot of Grenache and this Syrah parcel was one of the first places in the SLH to show the promise of the varietals in the region, which are historically very good in these soils, and has been proven to be case with some outstanding Syrahs found here.

The Odonata Hook Vineyard Syrah was made using 75% of de-stemmed grapes, while the additional 25% were left intact to allow for (a) partial whole cluster fermentation to take place, adding complexity, as noted above. The grape must underwent three days of cold soak and was punched down once daily. We inoculated with yeast to kick off the fermentation and continued to punch down the must once daily through the completion of primary fermentation. The wine spent a total of 14 days in the fermenter and underwent extended maceration to create a balanced wine. The Syrah was then pressed to 30% New Oak, with a combination of French and Hungarian barrels, the remaining 70% were neutral barrels. Winemaker Denis Hoey, based in the Santa Lucia Highlands on River Road, has been making some wonderful local focused sustainable and organic wines, as well as some interesting wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains, which has a special place in Hoey’s heart. Dennis Hoey, who mentored under Jeff Emery, a local legend and winemaker at Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, says he subscribes to the idea of blending of old world winemaking methods and attitudes with new techniques and he is in a continuous search of ways for improvement, adding he is always learning and hopes to keep things (in his wines) fresh, interesting and exciting. Tasted a few times now, this 2018 is a lovely effort and will really appeal to cool climate Syrah fans, and I see that it is still available directly through the winery, I recommend grabbing some of this stuff, which is a good value. As a side note, Hoey has added a couple of new wines to his collection, including an Aglianico, which I’m very excited to try!
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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