Each of the vineyards provides characteristics to the final blend that synergistically meld to create a complexity, depth, and richness that is unusual for Syrah. The most unique aspect of this Syrah is the complexity.The Hummingbird Hill fruit provides the ripe blackberry and viscous mouth feel while the Clary fruit provides white pepper, finesse and a blueberry component. Elements of this wine remind us clearly of the wines from the cold Northern Rhone Region of France. Yet it has a fullness and elegance that says California. This duplicity is what makes wines from the Sonoma Coast so unique.
Sonoma Coast Vineyards
Sonoma Coast Vineyards produces handcrafted wines from the Extreme Sonoma Coast, a unique cold-climate growing area west of the Russian River Valley, a mere five miles from the Pacific Ocean, on the far western reaches of the Sonoma Coast Appellation. The potential for this region to produce wines of exceptional depth and complexity inspired founders John and Barbara Drady to join forces with acclaimed winemaker Anthony Austin and introduce their first vintage in 2002. Low yields of mature fruit with high levels of natural acidity, intense flavors and remarkable complexity result from the long, cool growing season, where harvests may extend into early November.
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about half as much wine as its northeasterly neighbor. Because of its vast size, however, Sonoma is able to achieve far more diversity within its borders, which include sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid-back and down-to-earth, but the wines are serious and well-made, ranging in style from subtle and elegant to rich and powerful. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country unto 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.
Most 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.