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Clos Mimi Shell Creek Syrah 1996
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Tim is the "vigneron" for Clos Mimi. Thanks to his traditional convictions from a previous lifetime, Tim is "très religieux" in his pursuit of natural winegrowing. In 1988, Tim had the good fortune of interning alongside a young Jean-Louis Chave in California. Three years later while spending an entire day hiking the steep vineyards of Hermitage in Jean-Louis' royal company and tasting the unblended and highly spiritual 1990 Chave Hermitage from "barrique," Tim was smitten by Syrah.
The label for Clos Mimi symbolizes everlasting love and commitment. The mark itself intimates a spiritual connection with Burgundy. The "fleur de lys" heralds the Spear Family Coat of Arms described as "argent, a thistle with three heads, stalked and leaved vert, flowered gules." The thistle is the symbol of a noble but humble heart whose honor will be defended with the sword. The color argent (white or silver) denotes peace and sincerity. The color black was borrowed from Coco Chanel (not medieval England) known for her timeless design. According to Chinese "feng shui" the color black represents career and water. The color black is believed to be powerful, thus absorbing other colors. In fact, Pierre-Auguste Renoir called black "the Queen of colors" once upon a time in Paris.
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.