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Zaca Mesa Zaca Vineyards Syrah 1996

Syrah/Shiraz from Central Coast, California
    0% ABV
    • WE90
    • W&S93
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    Winemaker Notes

    The 1996 Zaca Vineyards Syrah is a blend of five of our eight blocks of Syrah, each one unique in character. Crafted individually, each block of Syrah is an exciting and stylistically different stand-alone wine. When blended together, they create a piece of art. This wine typifies the way we are able to create the best wine in the vineyard. Proud of our estate program, we experiment with different techniques in the vineyard. We are able to customize our viticulture for each individual block of Syrah, creating the best wine possible.

    In 1996 we were given the perfect weather for growing Syrah. Our property's well-drained light sandy marine soils at 1600 feet are ideal for the vigorous Syrah vines. The persistent warm days and cool nights allow us to have great balance in the fruit, even-ripening within clusters, and the all important gradual maturation. With leaf pulling we maximize the amount of sun on the clusters and challenge the acceptable stress on the vines.

    The 1996 Zaca Vineyards Syrah was fermented for an average of 14 days on the skins, just enough time for the big flavors and modest tannins to develop. This perfect balance allowed us to bottle this wine with minimal handling -100% unfined and unfiltered! The addition of 20% Viognier, which is the maximum allowed in Cote-Rotie, makes a huge vintage Syrah approachable from the get-go. The color of the Syrah is so dark, much like black ink, that the hefty Viognier addition is hardly noticeable. What you do notice is the layers and layers of plumy black fruits intermixed with exotic notes of ripe black cherries, Asian spices, white pepper, peaches, apricots, and cassis. Behind this incredible bouquet is a mouthful of unparalleled juicy fruit enclosed by the huge structure of a wine built for aging. The tannin waits in the background to dispel any disbeliever's thoughts of a wimpy wine. Wow! This wine is enormous!

    How did we compact all this aroma, flavor, and textured structure into one bottle of wine? Zaca Mesa has some of the oldest Syrah vines in Santa Barbara County, first planted 25 years ago. These old gnarled vines produce beautifully clustered crops that have an intense jammy core young vines aren't capable of. You should be able to enjoy this wine over the next 20 years. Watch how beautifully our Syrahs age, developing sagebrush and eucalyptus aromas with pure silk and richness on the palate. Drink the 1996 Zaca Mesa Vineyard Syrah with rack of lamb, filet mignon, or any of your favorite grilled meats.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Zaca Mesa

    Zaca Mesa

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    Zaca Mesa, Central Coast, California
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    Foremost, Zaca Mesa, where our vineyards are rooted, is a place. This elevated plateau with its extraordinary vistas lies within the unique Santa Barbara coastal mountain corridors. Here, the land is softly pained by sunlight, directly cooled by the Pacific windstreams. For over 2000 years its bounties and its beauty were revered by the Chumash Indians. The Spanish settlers who arrived in the 17th century were the ones who named it "La Zaca Mesa," borrowing the word "Zaca" from the Chumash-meaning "peaceful" and adding their own "Mesa" meaning "table."

    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.

    Central Coast

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    The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces the majority of the state's wine. The sprawling district covers most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara from the coast inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley. Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types, and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including Monterey, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, and Santa Cruz Mountains.

    Just about every major international grape variety is planted within this vast AVA, from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. A significant proportion of the region’s produce is generic, inexpensive bulk wine, but the Central Coast is also home to many small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as everything in between.

    Syrah/Shiraz

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    Marked by unmistakable aromatics, a savory palate, and an elegant texture, Syrah is capable of producing fascinatingly complex and long-lived wines with a stunning purple hue. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah’s best examples are found in Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. It is also an important component of the GSM blends of the Southern Rhône and beyond, alongside Grenache and Mourvèdre. Both varietal Syrah and GSM blends are common in Australia and California and are gaining popularity in Washington State. In Australia, Syrah is known by the synonym Shiraz, which tends to indicate a bolder, fruit-driven style of wine, and is occasionally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon for added depth and structure.

    In the Glass

    At its best, Syrah shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper, smoke, and even bacon fat. Many examples from California aim to recreate this savory style, while others focus more on concentrated fruit flavors. In Australia, under the name Shiraz, it shines as that country’s unofficial signature red grape, producing deep, dark, intense, and often jammy reds.

    Perfect Pairings

    Cool-climate Syrah, with its peppery spices, is a natural match with flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb dishes, where the spice is more about flavor than heat. With Australian Shiraz, grown in warmer regions, heavy meat dishes with abundant protein and fat are a necessity to match the intensity of the wine.

    Sommelier Secret

    Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” this synonym for Syrah has been adopted by winemakers throughout the world. If the label says “Shiraz,” you can typically expect a plush, fruity, and potent wine made in the Australian style. New World "Syrah" will generally more closely resemble the French style.

    ALL52066041_1996 Item# 6333