Workman Ayer 2014 Defacto Syrah Blend Santa Barbara County $38 92 pts.

The Workman Ayer de facto is 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache

Beautiful fresh plum on the nose with hints of caramel and a bit of herbal aroma. There’s some stewed fruit aroma too and anise coming through.  There’s decent acid on the palate.  This is a Syrah that leans more Southern Rhone than Northern Rhone. I’d love to see just a little lower alcohol to perhaps bring out a bit more complexity but that’s more of a personal taste. In its current state it’s a crowd-pleasing Syrah that’s not over-oaked or overblown.

Workman Ayer is the project of Michel Ayer and his wife whose last name is Workman. Michel started off in the wine business out of college and spend a few years in Napa working at wineries. He then decided to go to law school, while always keeping the idea of a winery in the back of his mind. He made his first vintage in 2010.

All the wines are made in the town of Buellton in an industrial space. The Grenache for the blend comes from Thompson Vineyard in Los Alamos. I’d love to know the location of the Syrah vineyards but Ayer says that due to non-disclosure agreements the exact location of the vineyards can’t be revealed.

This wine was provided as a sample for the purposes of review. 

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Two Syrahs from Dierberg Winery in Santa Barbara County

2014 Happy Canyon Star Lane Vineyard Syrah $40

This Syrah reveals itself as a warmer climate wine with a bit of reduction that blew off and evolved into a milk-chocolatey nose and aromas of stewed fruits and pie.  It’s a big wine that gives a punch of alcohol on the finish.  This is the type of Syrah meant for steak or bbq.  89 pts.

2014 Santa Maria Valley Dierberg Vineyard Syrah $65

As easy as it was to discern that the Happy Canyon was a warm climate Syrah it’s equally easy to tell that the Dierberg is firmly planted in the cool-climate camp.  There are aromas of meat and fresh fruit and also a hint of reduction.  It’s an elegant and fresh version of Syrah and it’s just my style. 94 pts.

After a storied stint at Donelan Wines in Sonoma, winemaker Tyler Thomas started at Dierberg Vineyards in 2013. He had become a bit of a Syrah-star in Sonoma and has since remade himself with mostly Pinot, Chardonnay, and Bordeaux varieties in Santa Barbara.  But luckily for us Syrah-heads, both the estate vineyard at Dierberg and the Star Lane vineyard are planted with small amounts of Syrah.  Just as at Donelan, with all its distinct Syrah vineyards, there’s a lot of contrast between these two Syrahs.  The Happy Canyon is the more warm-climate style and, due to the coastal influence, the Dierberg estate more cool-climate.

The Happy Canyon Syrah was aged in barrel for 20 months with 10% New French Oak.  The Dierberg Syrah is aged for 20 months with no new oak as Tyler feels that cool-climate Syrah and new oak are not a good match. This Syrah also has 5% Viognier added and some stem inclusion.

These wines were provided as samples for the purposes of review.