2017 Desire Lines Wine Co., Syrah, Griffin’s Lair Vineyard, Petaluma Gap AVA, Sonoma County.
The ripe flavored and smooth flowing 2017 Desire Lines Wines Co Griffin’s Lair Syrah highlights the vintage with some precision and flourish, it proves to be a very different presentation than the prior release even though it was crafted in the very same manner. It is less meaty and gripping and more lavish in rich fruit density with more supple tannin making it hard not to smile, it is a wine of comfort and with considerable flair. As mentioned in my reviews, Desire Lines Wines, made by Bedrock Wine Co.’s Assistant Winemaker Cody Rasmussen, is one of the best new labels in California and his touch with Syrah is proof, especially his Shake Ridge Vineyard and this beautiful dark purple and ruby edged Griffin’s Lair version. Expressive, lightly floral and forward this Syrah carries its California fruit with poise and style showing a layered mouth feel, it delivers black raspberry, dark plum, fig paste, creme de cassis and blueberry plus a very faint gamey note, allspice, cedar and burnt embers on the full bodied, but well structured palate. Everything is polished and integrated, easy to enjoy, but best to decant at this point and have it with hearty cuisine, this Griffin’s Lair Syrah is very much still evolving and looks set for a long life with great potential, I look forward to re-visiting this lovely Syrah again in about 3 to 5 years.

Rasmussen says he uses a mix of old world and California learned methods in the cellar and he notes that the 2017 was fermented using indigenous years or un-inoculated as he puts it, with, same as last year, close to 50% whole cluster. Cody employed a submerged cap through the first half of fermentation, before this Griffin’s Lair was pressed off just short of dryness, and put down to neutral large format French oak barrels, known as Puncheons, for 15 months before bottling. The much loved Griffin’s Lair Vineyard, near Lakeville and at the southern edge of Sonoma Mountain sits over the Petaluma Formation, which consists of heavy loams, mudstones and sandstones deposited as alluvial sediment between four and eight million years ago into an estuary at the western edge of the North American continent. The site is mostly gravels with the pebbles being a rich mix of Sonoma volcanics, Franciscan Complex schists, and Great Valley Sequence sandstones, as Rasmussen explains, that were carried here from near and far by various faults. The climate here is cooled by the wind gap (a constant blast of Pacific Ocean air from Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay) and the San Pablo Bay giving a long growing season that makes for deep complexity, lively acidity and usually heightened aromatics, all of which shine through in wines such as this. Desire Lines Wine Co. is about to send out their new releases and I’m excited about the 2018s, this is a perfect time to get on their list and discover these limited hand crafted offerings.
($42 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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