The Merrill family have been in the Californian agricultural realm for 8 generations. It was seventh generation Dana Merrill who began raising wine grapes in 1981 and founded the family’s vineyard management group, Mesa Vineyard Management, in 1989. From then until now, the Merrills have worked with some prestigious vineyards and big-name winemakers. It wasn’t until 2002 that Dana purchased Pomar Junction Vineyard on Templeton’s South El Pomar Road in Paso Robles. The family spent six years transitioning the 40-acre vineyard to SIP Certified standards and renovating the property’s lone building into the current tasting room. While the family continues to source grapes from other regions, their estate line — which celebrated a premier vintage in 2011 — is solely focused on what their piece of Paso does best: Rhone and Bordeaux varietals.

About the Wine: The Pomar Junction Vineyard 2013 Estate Syrah is made from 100% Syrah grapes harvested from the Pomar Junction estate vineyards in the Templeton Gap district of Paso Robles, California. The wine aged in 100% French oak barrels (33% new) for 18 months.

Winemaker: Jim Shumate

14.8% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork of the Pomar Junction Vineyard 2013 Estate Syrah and breathe in deep, brooding aromas of dehydrated black fruits like plums, dates, and blackberries — all coated in a light film of bittersweet chocolate.

This Syrah is a beautiful garnet color on the pour, settling into the glass richer, denser, and less luminescent. It is just nearly impenetrable at it’s marroon-red core. Initial aromas are more alive than initially sensed from the bottle with scents of black cherries, wild strawberries, wild flowers, fresh cedar wood and a clear line of acidity all wafting upward from the glass. Swirl and those aromas intensify adding even more life with addition of fresh cranberries. Take a deep breath in to find a suggestion of decadence with a hint of the chocolate once more.

The palate of the Pomar Junction Vineyard 2013 Estate Syrah is simultaneously full but refreshing. It’s utterly smooth and silky until the absolute finish. The finish brings tannins that just touch the tongue with texture and raises the heat in the heart (and the tastebuds). Dominant flavors are of black cherry, cranberry, cedar wood, and roasted almond skins. But the over-arcing flavor that carries the narrative — adding richness, decadence, and a refreshing sense of nature — is the anise.

Food Pairing: I paired the Pomar Junction Vineyard 2013 Estate Syrah with a veggie bowl: cauliflower rice base (seasoned lightly with butter and herbs de provance), wilted spinach, roasted brussel sprouts, and spiced boca meat.

The cruciferous and bitter/funky nature of the brussel sprouts rounded out the texture of the wine even further as well as highlighted the anise flavor. The wilted spinach brought forward some of those floral elements initially sensed on the nose, bringing to light a bit of lavender not previously detected when sipping the Syrah on its own. And the light spice infused into the boca meat elevated the pleasant warmth on the finish — again both in the heart and on the tongue.

More Info: I received the The Pomar Junction Vineyard 2013 Estate Syrah as a sample for review. (Cheers Faith!) Retail: $40. For more information about Pomar Junction, their wines, and their participation in the SIP Certified Program, and to order wines directly, please visit the Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery website.

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