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Austin Hope Syrah 2011
In 1978, a family of four arrived in Paso Robles to start a new life. At the time, fewer than a thousand acres of grapes had been planted in the region. Chuck Hope left his job in beverage distribution to become a farmer, settling his family, planting apples and grapes, and learning how to farm in Paso. In time, the Hope family became one of the area’s top grape growers.
Austin Hope grew up working alongside his father, inheriting his love and respect for the region. He led the family’s move into winemaking in 1995, and further exploration of Paso began. In 2000, Austin created the Austin Hope label, making very small productions of Rhône varietals. These wines are produced from vines grown at the family’s estate property, where soils and climate have similarities with Rhône Valley vineyards. They remain small yet extraordinary productions. Each bottling holds onto a unique intensity and softness, expressing a special side of Paso.
Today, Austin is showcasing an even greater sweep of the Paso region and expressing a similar richness with a recently released Cabernet Sauvignon. The source of the wine is far-reaching within the appellation - a most discerning group of vineyards located on gently sloping hillsides and hidden pockets across the domain, providing dimension to the Cabernet varietal. The wine has a bold structure of lush, velvety tannins and an unmistakable elegance. It is dark, ripe and eminently enjoyable.
The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces a good majority of the state's wine. This vast district stretches from San Francisco all the way to Santa Barbara along the coast, and reaches inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley.
Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including San Francisco Bay, Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley.
While the region could probably support almost any major grape varietiy, it is famous for a few. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are among the major ones. The Central Coast is home to many of the state's small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as larger producers also making exceptional wines.
Marked by unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.
In the Glass
Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.
Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.