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Zaca Mesa Z Cuvee 2014
At over 1,500 foot elevation, the Zaca Mesa vineyards are among the highest in Santa Barbara County. Warm sunny days and cool, breezy afternoons produce temperature conditions ideal for our Rhone varietals: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier, Cinsaut and Counoise.
This land has always driven our approach to farming. Way back in 1978, when Zaca Mesa was established, it was the first Santa Barbara County winery to plant the lush and luscious red/black Rhone grape Syrah. Zaca Mesa's estate program is now dominated by the incredible, blend-able Rhone superstars.
We are committed to the highest quality grapes, so year-round, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, Ruben and his crew manage our 246 vineyard acres to maximize the unique character of our fruit. This means conservative cropping, resulting in fewer tons per acre, careful pruning to achieve that delicate balance between vigor and crop, and leaf pulling to encourage healthy cluster development.
Our wines are true to the uniqueness of our estate fruit, with a focus on quality. We are always working with new and exciting varietal blends, wines that pair perfectly with the cuisine of today. A little something off the grill and a glass of Zaca Mesa Syrah (or Chardonnay. or Z Cuvee. or Z Gris), we are proud to bring you our vineyard to your glass.
Ranging from cool and foggy in the west to warm and dry in the east, the Santa Ynez Valley is a climatically diverse growing area. The most expansive AVA within the larger Santa Barbara County region, Santa Ynez is also home to a wide variety of soil types and geographical features. The appellation is further divided into four distinct sub-AVAs—Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District and Happy Canyon—each with its own defining characteristics.
A wide selection of grapes is planted here—more than sixty different varieties, and counting. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir dominate in the chilly west, while Zinfandel, Rhône blends, and Bordeaux blends rule the arid east. Syrah is successful at both ends of the valley, with a lean and peppery, Old-World sensibility closer to the coast and lush berry fruit further inland.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.