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Zaca Mesa Zaca Vineyards Syrah 1996
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.
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.
The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces a good majority of the state's wine. This vast district stretches from San Francisco all the way to Santa Barbara along the coast, and reaches 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 San Francisco Bay, Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley.
While the region could probably support almost any major grape varietiy, it is famous for a few. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are among the major ones. The Central Coast is home to many of the state's small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as larger producers also making exceptional wines.
Marked by 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.