Stolpman Vineyards Ruben's Block Syrah 2017
Perhaps the strongest effort in Stolpman Vineyards' 10 year history of trying to harness the intensity of this unique planting. The 2017 Ruben's Block seems to be a most harmonious marriage of dense fruit purity and a wile Syrah "otherness." Underlying lushness coats the tannins towards the finish with a scrumptious halt. The wine is truly the whole package.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
If at first fairly brooding with a quiet sense of potency rather than
a Syrah marked by bluster, but one, that with coaxing, bit by bit
opens to show a wealth of deep, very pure blackberry fruit and
flashes of dark chocolate, gleanings of caramelized meat, a light
shading of pepper and a scant streak of stony soil, this weighty,
well-balanced, full-bodied offering buffers its youthful tannins
with fruity substance to spare. Though with an hour or so of time
in a decanter, it will satisfy those for whom patience comes hard,
but know that this is a collectable, eminently age-worthy Syrah
whose promise will not begin to be realized until a minimum of
another half-decade has passed.
Stolpman Vineyards was founded by husband and wife team Tom & Marilyn Stolpman. On their honeymoon in Napa Valley, Marilyn put the wild idea into Tom’s head about one day owning a vineyard. In 1988 their search for limestone near the ocean ended with the purchase of what is now Stolpman Vineyards in Ballard Canyon AVA of Santa Barbara County. In 1994, Ruben “the Grape Whisperer” and his wife Maria Solorzano became the vineyard managers at Stolpman – employing a year-round team and empowering them through mentorship and a profit sharing program. Tom’s son Peter joined the family business in 2009 after working for a reputable wine distributor. Since he joined the team, he took back the majority of the vineyard for wine production rather than selling the grapes. He also helped increase Ruben’s La Cuardilla profit sharing program for the vineyard workers to 10% of all Stolpman production. Stolpman Vineyards’ story is reminiscent of the early pioneers of American winegrowing. They started with a dream of cultivating land with their family, included all of those who maintain the land into the family, and produce world class wine initially through trial and error and evolving to hone their skills through collaboration.
You can look at Stolpman Wines in the following categories…
Stolpman Estate’s flagship wines are the Sauvignon Blanc, the Uni White Blend, and the archetypal Syrah. In addition to these wines, the La Cuadrilla program – which was developed as a small program to engage their year-round vineyard team to take ownership on one block of vines and has now grown to a profit-sharing program that represents 10% of the total production.
So Fresh wines include the Love You Bunches lineup & Crunchy Rôastie Syrah. The grapes destined for these wines are natively fermented whole, un-crushed, for a delicately high-toned profile. Harvested early for lighter mouthfeel and higher acidity, wines go to bottle early to capture purity and freshness without added sulfur.
Para Maria is vignerons Ruben and Maria Solorzano’s project with the Stolpman family. Ruben cherry picks the fruit for red and rose wines from the dozens of Santa Barbara County vineyards under his farming control.
Combe is Pete Stolpman’s esoteric project that came about around 2010 when Pete became convinced by Rajat Parr of Domaine de la Côte of the great potential for Trousseau grapes on the limestone soils of Stolpman Vineyards. In 2014 he produced his first wines from 3.5 acres of Trousseau and then 1.5 acres of Chenin Blanc in 2016. More varieties such as Mondeuse, Poulsard, and Savagnin are soon to become part of the Combe program. These wines are bottled without added sulfur or other additions.
Accounting for only ten percent of the greater Santa Ynez AVA, Ballard Canyon’s north-south orientation provides an ideal pattern of sunshine and martime fog for producing excellent Syrah. While Syrah is planted to half of the total AVA acreage, an additional third is dedicated to other Rhône varieties, red and white.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”