Mendocino’s Mediterranean clime has proven ideal for growing memorable Syrah. Warm summer days and cool, foggy nights (with temperature swings mid-summer that can nudge 50 degrees) nurture the grapes until berries begin to senesce ever so slightly. In the Rhone Valley, tradition calls for a drop of Viognier in the Syrah to add a powerful floral note and a touch of elegance. It’s a tradition with gladly follow, and have taken a step further by adding the dollop of Grenache. A variety of rootstocks and Syrah clones such as the Duriff and Estrella River are planted in soils that include Feliz Loam, Red Vine Sandy Loam and Yoykayo Sandy Loam. They pick in small bins and ferment in small open-top fermenters. After completing malolactic fermentation, this vintage was aged for 18 months in French Oak from a variety of coopers to assure a layering of flavors. Then they bottle and allow the wine to rest and gain complexity for several months prior to release.
Bonterra’s Syrah vineyards, including the newer Butler Ranch, which ranges upwards to 1600 feet above sea level, are just teasing their prime growing years and you can see it reflected in the wine’s brilliant crimson color and intense, heady aromas of black cherry and wild mountain blackberries before giving way to bitter-sweet, vanilla chocolate. The tannins are velvety smooth and supple. The oak is wonderfully integrated, with complementary flavors of cedar oak spice.
"This is Bonterra’s best Syrah in many years. It’s not an ageable blockbuster, built along Northern Rhône lines, but is a gentle, soft wine for immediate enjoyment. It has earthy flavors of cherries, red currants, cola and smoky vanilla, and finishes clean and dry. — S.H. (5/1/2008)" -Rated 88, Wine Enthusiast