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Drew The Ornbaun Syrah 2012
Blend: 80% Syrah, 16% Zinfandel, 4% Viognier
Jason and Molly Drew started Drew eighteen years ago with a clear goal in mind: to craft small lot coastal wines that express site specificity and traditional varietal character. While the beginnings of Drew began in the Santa Rita Hills AVA in 2000, they transplanted their small operation to the Mendocino Coast in 2005 to establish their estate ranch and winery.
In 2004 they had stumbled upon an old 26-acre apple orchard for sale within the Mendocino Ridge Appellation. The Mendocino Ridge is the most westernmost AVA within Mendocino County located directly west and south west of Anderson Valley and directly north of the true Sonoma Coast. While others saw a daunting project in this old orchard property, Jason and Molly saw ancient oceanic soils, south facing slopes and a true coastal climate, with the ocean a mere 3.3 miles away. It didn't take long for them to decide to leap and leap they did.
They spent the following year drawing, planning and building their boutique winery. Spending that year living in a 19 ft Airstream trailer along with their two young boys, to ensure construction moved as planned. They eventually planted their 7-acre estate Pinot Noir vineyard, which produced its first crop in 2014. A milestone that was hard earned after 25 years in the wine industry. Jason is a true craftsman of his trade having spent many years honing his craft with his viticultural and winemaking background, having worked for several northern and central California estate winery and vineyards.
Drew continues to focus on small lot coastal Pinot Noir and Syrah from both Anderson Valley and the Mendocino Ridge. They continue their long-standing partnerships with several local vineyard growers who share their passion for sustainable and meticulous farming practices. Single vineyard sources are chosen for their climate, clonal selection and complexity of soil type. Winemaking practices remain focused on traditional methods that include whole cluster and native yeast fermentations, hand punchdowns and in most instances, no fining or filtering.
Essentially a northern extension of the Sonoma Coast AVA but part of Mendocino County, Mendocino Ridge is one of the rare appellations defined by elevation only. The Mendocino Ridge AVA is reserved only for vineyards at or above 1,200 feet between the Anderson Valley and Pacific Ocean.
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.