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Big Basin Santa Cruz Mountains Syrah 2014
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Big Basin Vineyards was founded in 1998 on an historic site in the Santa Cruz Mountains next to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The old ranch property was first settled in the late 1800s. Wine grape cultivation had been started by French immigrants by the early 1900s and continued until 1965 when the property was sold by Justin Lacau, who had named the property “Frenchie’s Ranch”, to a timber company. By the 1990s, all that remained of the vineyards were redwood stakes and scattered vines hidden by brush and poison oak bushes.
Our mission is to create wines that reveal the complex nuances of the vineyards that inspire them – cool climate, ocean-influenced, mountain vineyards. Great wines are grown, not made so we spend long hours in our vineyard, employing sustainable and organic farming practices. By keeping the yields very low and hand-harvesting small sections of the vineyard at perfect ripeness, we strive to achieve the most important part of winemaking - great fruit. Our job as winemakers then is to be as transparent as possible in allowing the wines to most emphatically and clearly express themselves. For us this means practicing minimal intervention. By keeping our production small, we can give every vine, fermentation bin and barrel the attention it deserves. We hope you enjoy the results.
A rugged and topographically diverse cool-climate appellation with a rich history, the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA stretches from Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco, to the northern border of Monterey County. Elevations range from 800 feet to upwards of 3,000 and microclimates vary substantially depending on which side of the mountains the vineyards lie; cool ocean winds and fog play an important role here. This can be a challenging region in which to grow grapes, but it is well worth the effort. Santa Cruz Mountains wines are noted for balanced acidity levels, often showing great aging potential. Wine has been made here since the 1800s, most notably from the legendary Ridge Vineyards, whose Monte Bello vineyard garners international admiration.
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the stars of this region, while Merlot and Zinfandel also perform quite well. Organic and sustainable vineyard practices are becoming increasingly common.
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.