Von Holt 2008 Syrah Sonoma Coast Old Lakeville

I was definitely excited to try the Von Holt Old Lakeville Syrah after the Neyers Lakeville Syrah that I tried a few weeks ago.  This wine has lots of plum, some slight hints of meatiness, and lots of strawberry deliciousness on the nose.  In fact, this wine is flat-out delicious smelling on the nose.  The strawberry aromas carry over onto a round and firm mid-palate.  And the finish… well, actually, the finish at first left a little to be desired.  Upon opening I got a lot of alcoholic heat and an acrid taste on the finish that was totally out of balance with the rest of the wine.  As the wine opened up and sat for a bit in the decanter that sharp and acrid finish dissipated and became more integrated with the wine to make it much more pleasant and drinkable overall.

I would say that this wine is a little bit warmer example of a cool-climate Syrah.  It does have some similar characteristics to the other Lakeville Syrahs that I’ve had because it’s richer and rounder than some of the other cool-climate vineyards.  In trying to pinpoint why I think that it falls into a slightly warmer style of Syrah camp, I would say that it’s more fruity (strawberry) and a little less savory.  That being said, this is definitely not Shiraz, and the wine finishes with a nice acidic lift that denotes its cool-climate origin.

The Von Holt winery has an interesting story.  The winery is basically made up of Chris and Pamela Von Holt, a couple who are newcomers to the wine business.  They have been long-time wine connoisseurs and decided to take the plunge into winery ownership.  As of now, they both have day jobs and they don’t yet have a winery location that you can visit.  In my short conversation with Chris Von Holt when I picked up their wine, he told me that their day jobs are still paying for the winery, a situation he hopes will be remedied as the wine starts to take off.

Their winemaker is John Fones who is also the assistant winemaker to Ed Kurtzman who makes wine for the Roar, August West, and Sandler labels.  Their website claims that the winery has a cool-climate focus. As Chris states on their website, as a former secret service agent, he tasted lots of wines throughout the world and found that he was most interested in wines with high acidity and food friendliness.  The first fruit they bought was from the Old Lakeville Vineyard and the ‘08 is their first vintage. This wine was made in the Northern Rhone tradition with 80% whole cluster inclusion and native yeast fermentation.

In our short conversation on Chris’ stoop, he admitted that their Syrah has been much tougher to sell than the Pinot.  I’m sure the Pinot is delicious but this is a solid wine and I hope they continue their cool-climate focus.  I can’t wait to taste their next Lakeville vintages.


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