Geyser Peak Alexander Valley Reserve Shiraz 1997
Founded in 1880 as California’s 29th bonded winery, Geyser Peak Winery has more than 135 years of winemaking history in Sonoma County. Originally located perched on a hillside across from Geyser Peak Mountain, its namesake, it commanded a view of the thermal steam clouds that billowed from the mountain summit. Here, in this special place, geothermal activity created the diverse soil pro?les that make this region so exceptionally well suited to wine grape cultivation.
At the forefront of production since its earliest days, Geyser Peak wines are sourced from prime vineyards that capture the essence of Sonoma. Today, located in Dry Creek Valley, Geyser Peak’s winemakers are carrying the winery’s rich history forward and staking an exciting claim on the future. Specializing in aromatic whites and rich reds, wines are crafted in small lots and fermented separately, then blended together to achieve full expression, balance and character. Each wine captures the essence of Sonoma and the appellation’s unique terroir, offering sophistication and ease, elevation and approachability, and taking us from casual days to connoisseur nights.
Nearly a northern extension of Napa Valley, Alexander Valley starts just north of the small, Knights Valley, and is just a few minutes drive from the Napa town of Calistoga. It is Sonoma County’s hottest AVA. But the Russian River, which runs through the valley, creates cooler pockets and its soft, alluvial soil is ideal for grape growing, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, some believe that Alexander Valley Cabernets truly rival the best from Napa Valley and many of the heavy-hitter producers have largely invested here.
In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up over 50% of plantings, Merlot and old vine Zinfandel thrive here. Ample, fleshy Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate white wine production. Some old-vine plantings of Grenache have also been discovered and more recent experiments with Sangiovese and Barbera show great promise.
Marked by an 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.