Left Bend Winery is the project of winemaker Gary Robinson and his friend Richard Hanke. At the moment, it’s an extremely low production winery. The Santa Cruz Syrah I tasted from the 2010 vintage was just recently released. It’s a very impressive wine. I was concerned that at 14.4% it would be a little too hot or too ripe but that was not the case. This is a purely delicious wine that’s worth seeking out if you’re a Syrah-head like me.
Again, just like the Clenenden Syrah, this is not exactly a Syrah that anyone would mistake for a Northern Rhone but, in this case, that is not a bad thing. It has a lot of up front pure new world fruit but great acidity and a not-too-tannic finish that makes me happy. Now, don’t get me wrong it’s got a lot of tannins, it’s a very dry-ing wine but there’s more acidity here than tannins and that’s a good thing. Again, for a wine with a 14.4% alcohol, I don’t get any alcohol. The nose has beautiful floral, plum and bright strawberry aromas.
I asked Gary why the wine didn’t have too-intense tannins and he said that it probably had something to do with the extended aging period of 27 months. He also said the wine was basket pressed as opposed to bladder pressed which may have led to less tannic extraction from the skins and seeds. Basket presses can be less harsh than bladders because they don’t squeeze the seeds as tightly which results in less bitter tannins releasing into the juice. I’ve had some great, nicely balanced, Syrahs that have been pressed with the basket. A recent article from a winemaker magazine talks more about them here.
Here’s a modern basket press, older versions have a handle on the top that you twist to press down the fruit. Most wine is pressed in a bladder press these days which looks like this:
Whatever the reason, this is an elegant Syrah that left me wanting to order more. Unfortunately, my wine fridge is packed right now so I’ll have to do some more drinking to make space. I think I can accomplish that.