2014 Cattleya, Syrah, Soberanes Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
The brilliantly executed 2014 Soberanes Syrah by Bibiana Gonzalez Rave (winemaker at Wayfarer and co-star of Shared Notes with her husband Jeff Pisoni) continues her hot streak, she is making some of the most seriously compelling wines in California and who’s star continues to rise, especially with this gorgeous Cattleya offering from the Pisoni owned vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Made using 45% whole cluster and native ferments, the 2014 was aged in specially spec (long air dried and light/medium toast I believe) French barrels with about 63% new, Bibiana’s experience at Ogier in Cote-Rotie certainly shows, she has captured the soul of the varietal and terroir in a near perfect wine that looks set for a long beautiful life, it shows clearly the real potential of Syrah in the Santa Lucia Highlands, a grape that since about 2004 has just about eclipsed the dense Pinot Noirs of the region, with wines in particular grown by the Franscioni and Pisoni families. Soberanes Vineyard has reached Grand Cru level quality, joining the famed Pisoni Estate Vineyard (Susan’s Hill) and the Garys’ Vineyard, especially with Syrah, but also coming along nicely with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Syrah thrives in the cool here and the long growing season allows extra dimensions of flavor, depth and complexity, it is a different expression no question, when compared to the zestier nervy Mendocino, of which I love too, especially Drew, Halcon and others, or the fine examples from the Sonoma Coast (Peay & Pax), Mount Veeder (Lagier-Meredith) and Ballard Canyon/Santa Barbara County/Edna Valley (Alban, Samsara, Stolpman, Piedrasassi and Andrew Murray). Here there is opulence, texture (mouth feel) and rich detail, and Cattleya’s 2014 is one of best yet, with wines such as this, Syrah’s future here looks fantastic, without question this has California ripeness and generous body, but still shows the class and finesse found in top French offerings, giving rise to comparisons to Guigal’s famous La La’s! The 2014 Cattleya Soberness Vineyard Syrah, all Alban clone, grown on granite/quartz laced soils on the higher and breezy Santa Lucia Highlands bench, starts with glorious deep purple/blue and garnet hues in the glass with stunning violets, creme de cassis and light toasty oak leads to a soulful palate of powerful layers of blackberry, boysenberry, currant and blueberry compote, plum and black cherry fruits along with a touch of charcoal embers, smoke, peppercorns, sticky lavender/sage, dusty coco, shaved vanilla, chalky stones, tapenade and a delicate touch of feral/briar savory earth. The 2014 is a full bodied Syrah that is still light on it’s feet and not heavy, it’s sweet tannins are firm, but lavish, with perky acidity allowing the inner beauty of this wine to shine through, but without question this wine enjoys air and decanting should be required for another 3 to 5 years at least, this is absolutely a classic that has a lot more in store for the patient. While not an inexpensive wine, once you taste it you’ll be glad you splurged, it’s worth the price and effort to get this wine.
($67 Est.) 95-97 Points, grapelive

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