This is now the fourth Syrah I’ve had from Yorkville Highlands and I’m beginning to develop a sense of what that region is capable of. The Yorkville Syrahs I’ve had are a tad richer and a tad bigger than the extreme cool-climate Syrahs I’ve tasted.
It’s fun to taste a series of wines from a specific appellation and develop a sense of the terroir. The Yorkville Highlands is a small appellation situated between the heat of the interior Alexander Valley and the cool, almost coastal climate of the Anderson Valley. The climate is really a mix of both the aforementioned appellations–it gets some of the heat of the Alexander Valley, and the fog of the Anderson Valley. There are vineyards planted with everything from Cabernet to Pinot Noir. Consequently, it’s an appellation that ever since its inception in 1998 has been trying to figure out what its signature variety is going to be.
The first wines that I tasted from Yorkville Highlands were Bordeaux varieties from a little winery called Yorkville Cellars. These were not your typical rich Napa Bordeaux-style wines. They were higher in acid, depicting their cool origins. They were good wines, but because of their higher acidity, they’ve always seemed like a tough sell in a state known for just the opposite.
This wine has a striking blackberry aroma mixed with a bit of vanilla. I’m not getting as many of the savory elements that I normally enjoy in a cool-climate and it’s a richer, darker, and more supple style. There is a floral component and there’s also a fair amount of minerality here. But, where this wine really screams cool climate is on the palate. Yes, it’s rich and full but it’s also got such a nice lift of acidity on the finish that it makes me think the wine would go great with food. It’s extremely well balanced and the alcohol doesn’t come through at all.
The Halcón Alturas Syrah is 100% Syrah and was made with minimal intervention techniques, native yeasts, and no added acid. It’s a wine that truly does represent the terroir that it was grown in, and is a successful combination of a cool climate and warm climate Syrah. It has the acidity and food-friendliness of a cool climate wine but the suppleness and deliciousness of a warmer climate wine, and I think it would be perfect for somebody new to cool-climate Syrah. It has that delicious factor that could bring people into the Syrah fold. Could it be that the future of the Yorkville Highlands is to create Syrah that is popular because of its richness, yet also representative of true Syrah because of its higher acidity?
This wine has converted me into a believer of Syrah grown in the Yorkville Highlands. Copain and Meyer Family Cellars also make delicious Syrah from this region. As the vines grow older I can only hope that they are going to get better and better and the region could really become a sweet spot for Syrah. Hmm, did I just convince myself to buy some land there and plant it with Syrah?