Agharta Syrah 2004
Syrah/Shiraz from North Coast, California
"Evolved aromas of roasted earth, dried leather and meat jus immediately emerge from the surface of this opaque liquid. Eventually fruit aromas respond to your coaxing and tiny currants, the ripest blackberries and the densest of blue fruits fill out the darker more evolved aromas of leather and tar. The wine is thick and immediately mouth coating with a very richly textured and immensely concentrated sensation of fruit and spice. The secondary aromas of delicate white flowers, black summer truffles and dark roasted coffee highlight the fruit as the wine unfolds in your mouth. This wine isn't noticeably oaky or excruciatingly tannic or seemingly sweet, it is just all kind of 'there' composed and finely knit together in a very decadent glass of wine."
The Wine Advocate - "Proprietors Pam and Pax Mahle have fashioned a 2004 Syrah called Agharta. Aged 58 months (that’s not a typo) in French oak casks (the 2005, 2006, and 2007 vintages will spend 45-48 months in cask), the extraordinary 2004 is a 475-case blend of 92% Syrah, 5% Grenache, and the rest Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussane. Most of the Syrah comes from the Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino. This profound wine’s inky/purple color is followed by aromas of smoky barbecue meats, grilled Provencal herbs, and exotic tropical fruits intermixed with blackberry, cassis, blueberry, and graphite. This super-rich effort tastes like the nectar of Syrah, yet it is dry, elegant, and remarkably fresh and precise. In the mouth, the impression is like that of a multilayered cake – everything is there. This is an amazing, very multi-dimensional wine that must be tasted to be believed. It can be drunk now or cellared for two decades. "
"Agharta Wines is the continuation of a project that I began in 2002. Utilizing the lowest yielding vineyards that produce the most intensely concentrated wines and age them in barrel until they ‘unfold’ and start to reveal secondary nuance. This process is unsettling at times as the wines could prove to need many years to mature and evolve in barrel until I feel they are ready to be bottled." ~Pax Mahle View all Agharta Wines
About North Coast
Beyond Napa and Sonoma in the north you find a couple of other counties producing great wine. Among these are Mendocino and Lake County. The northernmost California winegrowing regions, these two counties are right above Napa and Sonoma, geographically. Yet, wine-wise they are very different – both from their southern neighbors and from each other.
Notable FactsMendocino has a high amount of organic vintners and vines. The first winery to settle here was Fetzer, which practices organic viticulture and holds some of the most vineyard land in the area. Mendocino has many pockets of micro-climates while Lake County, being smaller in size, is less diverse climactically. As for the grapes, Chardonnay is the most popular in both counties, but there are also some excellent Sauvignon Blancs, particularly in the Lake County. In red wine, Zinfandel leads the way, followed by Rhone Blends and Petite Sirah. The reds in both counties are complex and sumptuous. Anderson Valley is a sub-AVA of Mendicino and is quite well known for its excellent cool climate, producing the delicious Roederer Estate sparkling wines and some wonderful cool-climate Syrah.
About CaliforniaIt's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.