Ambullneo Vineyards Howling Syrah 2004
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
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.
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.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”