.Calling All Syrah Lovers

Big Basin Vineyards’ founder Bradley Brown discusses 2013 Syrahs. Plus, an unusual Syrah tasting

A rare wine event next week: a flight of 2013 Single Vineyard Syrahs from Big Basin Vineyards tasted and discussed with BBV founder Bradley Brown.  The quartet of great Syrahs from 2013 hails from the Gabilan Mountains to multiple blocks of the Estate Vineyard. Same vintage year, but intriguing differences in character.

“Wines undergo a transformation as they age,” the winemaker reminded me last week, “and with well-made wines, these changes can delight. Tannins and flavors melt together building silky texture and extending the finish in the wines. 2013 still stands out as one of my favorite vintages of that decade, so we are really looking forward to sharing these four different bottlings of Syrah from that year.” 

Wine Enthusiast gave the 2013 Old Corral Syrah (Estate) 92 points, and comments that the estate bottling “showed elegant aromas of black currant and violet on the nose. The palate is extremely well integrated and seamless, with dense black fruits lifted by kicks of purple flowers. Quite beautiful.” Aficionado and expert Wilfred Wong said of the 2013 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah: “This wine is deep, dense and long, with aroma and flavors of red and black fruits.”

Several years ago, Matt Kettmann of Wine Enthusiast gave the 2013 Coastview Vineyard Syrah 91 points, admiring the wine’s “dense core of floral fragrance as well as cola and black olive touches on the nose … Bright and pure purple fruit meets lilac flavors on the palate, its density buoyed by balanced acidity. Over time, touches of herb and spice emerge.”

And finally, Brown will be pouring the almost impossible to find 2013 Frenchie’s Ranch Syrah. Full-bodied and complex, this powerhouse of a wine is loaded with black pepper, olive and dark fruits. Amazing that it just keeps on giving, even after nine years. A rare wine and a rare opportunity to taste.

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The winemaker told me more. The four wines include a Syrah from Coastview Vineyard, as well as two different single vineyard estate Syrahs. “This diversity of expressions of a single grape varietal will allow a deeper understanding of how that single thread of the vintage impacts across the three vineyards,” he says.

Brown will also be tasting the Frenchie’s Ranch Syrah made with a very different barrel program, having spent over three years in primarily new French oak Hogshead barrels. “The extended aging leads to a more decadent expression of the fruit,” he says. Sounds exciting! 

If you haven’t yet had the luxurious pleasure of sitting out on the patio, in front of the firepit (if the fog has crept in), or enjoying the sun while you sip at the new tasting headquarters, this Syrah-a-thon is the perfect occasion. The chic new tasting grounds for the handiwork of Big Basin Vineyards’ founder as well as the current winemaker Blake Yarger is definitely a scene.

From the glass-enclosed interior that manages to suggest Santa Monica and Steamer Lane at the same time, to the open-air terrace with incredibly attractive seating options, this is one stylish place to sample your new favorite Big Basin wines.

The infrastructure at this tasting room keeps unfolding and fine tuning. In one week, the BBV staff will welcome new tasting room manager Reed Cormier—described by Brown as “awesome”—a veteran wine merchant and former assistant tasting room manager at BR Cohn in Napa.

Syrah Horizontal Night with Bradley Brown will be presented on Thursday, Aug. 18, 4-9 pm at the Santa Cruz Tasting Room, 525 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $45 per flight. Club members receive 50% off flight. Reservations can be made for parties of 1-8 at bigbasinvineyards.com; parties of 6 or more require a $25 deposit per person.

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