Winemakers, what a life we live and what a job we have. As harvest approaches we hope to continue to use this platform to help you understand exactly what it means to “make” wine. Do we really just take Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or Syrah, or whatever, crush it and let it go? Well, kind of; but like anything there is so much more that goes into it.
Would you believe that tasting verticals, the same wine over several vintages, helps you make better wine? At Donelan we believe “the best wines are not made but discovered and we take pride in the privilege of distilling for your pleasure the greatest qualities and natural variations in a vineyard and a variety.” Huh? Basically, we believe you need great fruit and you need to work to understand that fruit. We work with 14 different vineyards, make 4 single vineyard Syrahs (and maybe a Pinot soon!), and it is imperative to understand those vineyards.
So how do we do this? Many ways of course, but one way is to occasionally revisit the wine’s history. Enter tasting verticals which help a winemaker think about the “big picture” of a terroir prior to harvest. Then applying that taste information to the vintage standing on our doorstep: 2012.
Below is the Cote-Rotie-inspired Kobler Family Vineyard Syrah, 2003 through 2010. Kobler is a cool vineyard located in the Green Valley of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. Read more here.
KOBLER FAMILY VINEYARD VERTICAL 2003-2010
2003 – Plenty of life and fruit left in this wine and while it has classic savory elements of Syrah, it may be one of the more red fruit driven wines aromatically – showing some elevated volatile acidity too. I would recommend drinking the wine now as it is hard to imagine more complexity emerging. Drink with a hearty, savory dish and expect it to hold on for another few years.
2004 – Tasted after the 2003, this was more restrained, less red and more dark in its fruit profile (e.g. blackberry) with a leathery and smoky savoriness. Very silky in the palate with excellent tannins and spice on the finish. Like the 2003, I don’t see it evolving much more, but that doesn’t mean it will not hold on for a few more years. Drink up with great friends and chocolate!
2005 – In some respects this cool vintage is more oriented toward our European inspiration: Cote Rotie. Very classic in its herbal qualities and black pepper, this wine clearly shows off the cooler 2005 vintage with savory characters and higher acidity. Time may see some continued improvement, but don’t be shy about drinking it either.
2006 – A lovely nose of blackberry, roast game, violets, and dried earth. This wine seems headed in a similar direction as 2004 and has plenty of time to get there. The texture is balanced if still a touch drying, and the wine should age beautifully several more years.
2007 – Similar to 2006 in flavor characters with more peppercorns aromatically. The balance in the mouthfeel is wonderful with a rich mid-palate and a supple finish. I would expect this wine to continue to open and develop as the years go by. Enjoy now if you have some but expect it to last.
2008 – Somewhat like the 2005, this wine is more similar to Cote Rotie in its black fruit mixed with herb and pepper aromatics. The structure is lively, lovely, and supple. We expect it to last for a while and it is evolving slowly thus far hinting at its potential to age another 10 years.
2009 – Clearly a standout vintage in this flight, this is the real potential of Kobler Vineyard in a superb vintage like 2009 (which the 2012 is trying to mimic thus far!!). A cornucopia of classic Syrah flavors laid over a supple, well-knit texture. This ought to age very well, but it drinks so well now good luck holding enough to get to 10 years.
2010 – A departure in some ways because of the coolness of the vintage. Less ripeness in the vintage led us to use less whole-cluster to evoke the blackberry fruit: the goal was achieved as aromas of blackberry, anise, leather emerge from the glass with hints of black pepper. The texture is built more with acid and has a finesse that is very enjoyable if less rich than previous vintages. It may not last as long as 2008 or 2009, but this is a lovely wine.