Mmmm I do love a good Syrah. The thing about it, though, is that it’s an absolute chameleon grape, absorbing the most minute details of its surrounding soils. Northern Cali kid that I am, I’m most familiar with the more savory, and all-around tighter Syrah of the gravely-turfed, cool climate Sonoma Coast. Though I’ve ventured as far as Paso Robles in my Syrah sips (a region that seems to be a French-Cali hybrid), the 2013 Nagy Wines Syrah is my first from Santa Barbara County. It seems that this chameleon grape has absorbed the sweet summer sun of SoCal.
About the Wine: The 2013 Nagy Wines Syrah is made from 100% Syrah grapes harvested from White Hawk Vineyards in the Los Alamos Vally of Santa Barbara County. According to the spec sheet, the vineyard sits on ancient dunes — which just sounds awesome — but also makes for well-drained soils due to the slight slant of elevation. The other thing to note is that Santa Barbara in general sits between two mountain ranges, which travel east to west, capturing some cooling marine air. So, despite my little joke about SoCal sun, this area actually maintains fairly cool temperatures (even enjoying frost during some winters), allowing for longer growing seasons and more voluptuous fruits.
The grapes for the 2013 Nagy Wines Syrah were destemmed prior to a 5-day cold soak. It went through rack and return just once and pressed at dryness. The wine then aged in 100% French oak barrels (neutral) for 18 months and aged for another 6 months in bottle before release.
Flavor Profile: This Syrah has a beautiful pour — it’s an iridescent jewel of purple and pink. The smell wafts out of the glass: it’s a fruit basket of just overripe black fruits (plum, black cherry), with just the slightest hints of unsweetened cocoa, or maybe a bit of cola.
First impression on the tongue is just how smooth this wine really is. There’s just a background amount of acid, but in by no means impose upon the jaw-drooling fruits, which are brighter on the palate than the nose — blueberries, red plums, maybe even macerated cranberry. It’s not until the finish that a bit of smokey-woodsy-earthiness comes through. This wine is seriously all about the fruit.
Now remember what I said about Syrah being a bit of a chameleon to its environment. Well it’s clear that the cooling Corialis effect did wonders to let these fruits hang out and plump to perfection. And, in my book, Clarissa was smart to age these in neutral oak, allowing the true nature and beauty of the grapes take center stage. To me that is the purpose and the pace that this wine takes.
That being said, my partner in wine crime found it a bit too dense for his palate; he was looking for a bit more acid and maybe a bit more obvious tannin. To each their own. Obviously I disagree.
Food Pairing: I paired my 2013 Nagy Wines Syrah with grilled salmon and my mediterranean quinoa salad. What I liked about this pairing was that the oils in the salmon seemed to marry with the juiciness of the wine, almost cancelling each other out, and I was able to get a feel for those tannins. The salad recipe calls for tomatoes, onion, vinegar, and lemon — combined, that’s enough acid for my palate, so I really didn’t find I was longing for more acid in the wine.
Was it the perfect pairing? I’m not so sure, but it was definitely good. Next time — and my friends, there will be a next time — I think I want to work in a side dish that plays with that fruit a bit more. Will keep you posted on that front.
More Info: If you haven’t yet read my review of the 2013 Nagy Wines Viognier — you must. It’s another all-around winner, a wine to come back to again and again.
I received the 2013 Nagy Wines Syrah as a sample for review. (Cheers, Clarissa!) For more information about Nagy Wines, the winemaker Clarissa, and to purchase wines directly, please do visit the Nagy Wines website.
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