Lafond SRH Series Syrah 2014
The Santa Rita Hills is a small appellation at the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley that has gained national recognition for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Valley runs west to east, opening a gap in the coastal range, allowing the late afternoon ocean fog to roll in where it lingers until early morning. The surrounding hills trap the fog before it is dissipated in the wider Santa Ynez Valley. The fog cools the vines from the day's summer heat and it is this combination of warm days and cool nights that gives the wine its complexity as well as providing acidity to give it structure.
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Lafond is dedicated to producing limited quantities of Sta. Rita Hills Vineyard and Appellation designated Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay. The purpose of these single designations is to highlight the distinctions of soil and climate and create continuity in these slight but significant differences. Lafond SRH are single varietal bottling of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. Grown and crafted exclusively in the Sta. Rita Hills (SRH) AVA, these cool climate gems hit the mark in depth and finesse and stand alone as one of the best buys in the region.
A superior source of California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills is the coolest, westernmost sub-region of the larger Santa Ynez Valley appellation within Santa Barbara County. This relatively new AVA is unquestionably one to keep an eye on.
The climate of Sta. Rita Hills is a natural match for Chardonnay and Pinot noir, thanks to the crisp ocean breezes and well-drained, limestone-rich calcareous soil. Here, grapes ripen just enough, while retaining brisk acidity and harmonious balance.
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.