The 2011 Edmunds St. John Fenaughty Vineyard El Dorado Syrah

fenaughty

It’s time to highlight one of the stars of California Syrah. Steve Edmunds has been around for a long time in California and he’s always made wines in a rather low alcohol, “European” style. He never succumbed to the big, rich, oak influenced (read Parkerized) craze of the mid 90s and mid 2000s. He therefore missed out on perhaps a decade of publicity. As the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward a more terroir-driven style of Syrah, Edmunds St. John enjoys favor among the cognoscenti. For followers of Syrah in the New World though, Steve Edmunds’ Syrahs never really went away, they’ve always been wines to enjoy for their pure, unadulterated character.

Edmunds makes wines from the Sierra foothills (among other areas) and the truth is that it’s been a little hard for me to put a finger on Syrah from this appellation. Sometimes it seems cool-climate and sometimes it seems to produce rather big and bulky styles of Syrah. In fact, some of the biggest Syrahs I’ve ever tasted have been from this region. Luckily with Steve’s wines I don’t have to worry about that dichotomy, he prides himself on letting the vineyard speak for itself and his grapes are picked at a time that retains their freshness and, once fermented, they aren’t subjected to any new oak.

The wine: Green peppercorn on the nose with some blackberry, plum, and honeysuckle aromas in the background but that peppercorn is unmistakable. It’s a warm and inviting smell for me because it invokes memories of mom’s cooking and home. This wine definitely benefits from time open in the bottle, like all cool-climate Syrah. It seemed a little thin yesterday after first opening but after a day on the counter the mid-palate had really fleshed out and the finish is less abrupt and more full. The tannins are in control and the acidity is present but nicely integrated. The finish tastes of strawberries and balsamic. A really delicious wine that makes me feel very happy and privileged to taste it.

By the way, if you’d like to learn even more about Steve Edmunds, perhaps more than you ever wanted to know, check out Levi Dalton’s excellent podcast.

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