In the last 5 or so years the -real- Sonoma Coast has catapulted from little known underplanted region to the most fashionable region in California. Fortunately, the quality deserves the recognition. Unfortunately, the pricing has now increased to be much closer to Napa Valley levels for the top bottlings. Sonoma is supposed to be the value centre of Nor-Cal!
The three most important grapes in the Sonoma coast are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. As has been typical for a couple decades, Syrah receives far less attention and purchasing dollars than the other two varieties. It continues to be a difficult grape for most Americans to understand, particularly when it is made in the more animalistic and mushroomy style common in the Sonoma Coast. These are savory wines that, while exuberant, do not offer that immediately accessible pure fruitedness that is common for the Pinot Noirs of the region. They are among the best Syrahs in the U.S. My personal tastes do lean toward Syrah and thus I find the Sonoma Coast wines from the grape to be quite compelling.
Aromatic Organically Farmed Syrah
Radio-Coteau makes wine from vineyards across Northern California. It leases many excellent vineyards and has an estate vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. Their style has shifted in the last 5+ years. They used to make a more extracted style of wine, but have really dialed back now and make elegant, expressive wines at relatively low alcohols (most under 14%).
Dusty Lane is a relatively young, organically farmed, vineyard, planted in 2006 with the Alban clone. The Syrah, however, is quite different from what Alban makes further south. With about 30-40% whole bunch inclusion and alcohol levels around the mid 13% level, this is a highly aromatic, medium bodied version of the grape. The vineyard is situated just northeast of the town of Occidental and thus quite close to Radio-Coteau estate vineyards. The south-facing slopes make this a good place for Syrah.
2012 was an excellent vintage for the Sonoma Coast, with more growing degree days than the surrounding years. This makes it a good vintage for Syrah, which is a later ripening variety. Summer diurnal temperature variation was 40-50 degrees fahrenheit – a fairly dramatic shift that gave the wines freshness and balance when combined with the long growing season.
The imprint of 2012 is clearly evident in this superb Syrah, which offers a very high level of aromatics, length and balance. It is deceptively easy to drink. I highly recommend this.
Excellent to Excellent+
$120 at Kits Wine