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Ambullneo Vineyards 2004 Howling Syrah 2007

Syrah/Shiraz from Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast, California
  • WE91
  • RP90
15% ABV
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15% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Critical Acclaim

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WE 91
Wine Enthusiast
Mostly from Bien Nacido Vineyard, this is solidly in the winery's style, which is huge, fruit-forward, full-bodied wines of vast concentration and deliciousness. There is nothing at all subtle about this Syrah. It overwhelms with blackberry pie, cassis and chocolate-coated cherry candy flavors, with licorice and white pepper overtones, and is also big in tannins, although they're ripe and sweet. Racy acidity saves the day, and keeps it from being a fruit bomb.
RP 90
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
From a relatively new producer who has already done some impressive work with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Ambullneo’s 2004 Syrah Howling displays an elegant style along with sweet blackberry and cherry fruit intermixed with a subtle touch of oak, medium to full body, and a fine finish.
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Ambullneo Vineyards

Ambullneo Vineyards

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Ambullneo Vineyards, Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast, California
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Ambullneo Vineyards inception was one of uncertainty, both in our survival and our knowledge. Simply put, how could we make the very best Pinot, Chardonnay and Syrah that could be made? And equally as important, would their customers pay the additional money necessary to do such a thing?

The answers to these questions are now certain. They have been accepted and they continue to make better wines each year. Starting out, they needed to understand our vineyard sites, farm them like never before and make sacrifice. The attitude of Ambullneo Vineyards is "whatever it takes". No cluster is safe from being dropped to the ground, both in the vineyard and on the sorting table. No barrel is safe from being rejected and never making it to the final product. Only the tightest grain barrels are chosen for the project and cost is not a consideration. At first, while learning their sites, we were making cuvees (the blending of several vineyards). Now that the vineyards have more age and we are approaching our 9th vintage, they have started making site specific wines.

It comes down to this: whatever it took to produce the finest in wine is the course they have selected. Ambullneo's decisions have not been easy to make, but they believe that in effort you will find reward. Mass producing wine is not something that interests them. It's handcrafted wines from the vineyard that ignite their passions.

Santa Maria Valley

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A lesser-known but elite AVA within the larger Santa Barbara district, the Santa Maria Valley AVA runs precisely west to east starting near the coast. The valley funnels cool, Pacific Ocean air to the vineyards more inland, allowing grapes a longer hang time to ripen evenly and achieve their full potential by harvest time. Combined with minimal rainfall, consistent warm sunshine, and well-drained soils, it is an ideal environment for grape growing.

Many of the wineries here are small and highly respected, having established a reputation in the 1970s and 80s for producing excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. More recently, Syrah has also proven quite successful in the region. Many vineyards are owned by growers who sell their grapes to other wineries, so it is common to see the same vineyard name on bottlings from different wineries. Bien Nacido Vineyard is perhaps the best-known and most prestigious.

Syrah/Shiraz

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Marked by unmistakable aromatics, a savory palate, and an elegant texture, Syrah is capable of producing fascinatingly complex and long-lived wines with a stunning purple hue. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah’s best examples are found in Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. It is also an important component of the GSM blends of the Southern Rhône and beyond, alongside Grenache and Mourvèdre. Both varietal Syrah and GSM blends are common in Australia and California and are gaining popularity in Washington State. In Australia, Syrah is known by the synonym Shiraz, which tends to indicate a bolder, fruit-driven style of wine, and is occasionally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon for added depth and structure.

In the Glass

At its best, Syrah shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper, smoke, and even bacon fat. Many examples from California aim to recreate this savory style, while others focus more on concentrated fruit flavors. In Australia, under the name Shiraz, it shines as that country’s unofficial signature red grape, producing deep, dark, intense, and often jammy reds.

Perfect Pairings

Cool-climate Syrah, with its peppery spices, is a natural match with flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb dishes, where the spice is more about flavor than heat. With Australian Shiraz, grown in warmer regions, heavy meat dishes with abundant protein and fat are a necessity to match the intensity of the wine.

Sommelier Secret

Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” this synonym for Syrah has been adopted by winemakers throughout the world. If the label says “Shiraz,” you can typically expect a plush, fruity, and potent wine made in the Australian style. New World "Syrah" will generally more closely resemble the French style.

LSB200281_2007 Item# 200281