I’ve wanted to try a Lakeville Syrah for a while now. It’s one of the vineyards that is most often associated with cool-climate Syrah and technically it’s in Petaluma, which is not exactly the town that one associates with good wine. To me, this makes the wine all the more interesting.
Like many cool-climate Syrahs, there’s a purity of fruit on the nose that’s impressive. Again, I get that text-book black olive aroma with some sweet plum mixed in. This wine is rich and powerful and full on the mid-palate — rounded, and a little sweet. The mid-palate transitions to a savory, tannic, and dry finish that begs for food. Even though this is an ’08, I think this wine could last a long time due to the acidity and tannins evident on the finish. I’ve heard the ’09 is even better so I’ll be looking forward to cracking the one I have in my wine fridge soon.
Neyers is perhaps most known for their Cabernet, Merlot, and Chardonnay. In fact, Syrah makes up only about 10% of Neyers production but they try to make it in a Northern Rhone style by using minimal intervention, stem inclusion, and they even crush the wine with their feet. And most importantly for my palate, they don’t mask the pure fruit aromas and flavors by aging the wine in too much oak.
Based on this version of the Old Lakeville Road Syrah, (and I know that one wine is not a fair sample size), I’m guessing that many winemakers who blend grapes from this vineyard use them to give cool-climate Syrahs some backbone (tannic firmness) and richness. As I taste more of these wines, I hope to get a stronger sense of what each cool-climate Syrah vineyard is capable of and also how different winemakers use the grapes.
Possibly the only knock on this wine is that it’s a little simple. I don’t get much of that meatiness or pepper on the nose that I associate with some other cool-climate Syrahs. It’s simply not as complex as some of the previous wines I have tasted (the Peay for example).
All in all, this is another great Syrah and I continue to be impressed with the high level of Syrahs that are available in California for around $30.
A side note
I had a high-end boutique Cabernet this weekend that was a gift (retails for over $50) that was so over-oaked and boring that I am imploring you to get out of the Cabernet box and try something new. This Cab had a taste and aroma profile not much different from Cabs for which I’ve paid a lot less money and it had nowhere near the complexity of any of the Syrahs that I’ve been tasting in this blog. Now, I know that Cabernets can be really good, and I’ve actually had amazing Cabs from this same wine-maker but I’ve yet to have a high-end California Cabernet that offers the complexity and interest that Syrah can give you. For my money, cool-climate Syrah in California is still the best bet for wines. Why spend over $50 for wines that taste like oak, vanilla, and jam when you can get wines for under $30 that offer so much more?