Accolades

STEVE HEIMOFF – 2008 RICHARD’S FAMILY VINEYARD SYRAH

“This is not only one of the best Syrahs of the vintage, it’s easily the greatest Syrah ever produced from Sonoma Valley. Stuns with its soft, complex, black and blue berry, teriaki beef, black pepper and sandalwood flavors. The depth is unbelievable, the length impressive. Clearly a first growth Syrah, and should develop bottle complexity for the next six years, if not longer.”

Full Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate Issue #216 Donelan Wine Reviews

Full Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate Issue #210 Donelan Wine Reviews

Full Antonio Galloni Vinous January 2014 Donelan Wine Reviews

2010 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 98 View Comments
2010 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 98

The 2010 Donelan Syrah Obsidian Vineyard is spectacular! A blend of 100% Syrah that comes from the black, obsidian soils of Knights Valley and an elevation of 1,200 feet, it offers up a mix of blackberry fruit, smoked bacon, chocolate, bramble, and chalk like minerality on both the nose and palate. Broad, savory, and deep, this full-bodied effort is perfectly put together on the palate and shows a layered, building texture, brilliant concentration, and a blockbuster finish that highlights masses of ripe tannin. Cellar it for 3-4 years, and enjoy over the following two decades.

Jeb Dunnuck The Rhone Report December 1, 2012
2009 Richards Family Vineyard Syrah 100 View Comments
2009 Richards Family Vineyard Syrah 100

A perfect wine, the 2009 Syrah Richard's Family Vineyard is out of this world. About 50% new oak was used in its upbringing, and it was bottled after two years in barrel as opposed to the 36 months of the 2011. Fifty percent whole clusters were used. A stunning bouquet of barbecue smoke, steak tartare, creme de cassis, blackberries, truffle and licorice soars from the glass of this full-bodied wine. Boasting great intensity, a multi-dimensional mouthfeel, and an incredible perfume, this sensational North Coast Syrah should continue to drink beautifully for 10-15+ years.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate December 30, 2013
2008 Venus Roussane/Viognier 94 View Comments
2008 Venus Roussane/Viognier 94

The gorgeous 2008 Donelan Venus, a blend of 93% Roussanne and 7% Viognier, ranks alongside the great white Rhone Ranger blends produced by Manfred Krankl at Sine Qua Non. It offers a light green hue to its color, explosive aromatics of tropical fruits including lychee nuts, pineapples, and orange marmalade, excellent acidity, and superb richness. This dry, full-bodied, intense elixir’s alcohol is only 12%, which is hard to believe given the flavor intensity. This beautiful wine showcases the talents of Joe Donelan’s new winemaker, Tyler Thomas.

Robert M. Parker Jr. The Wine Advocate February 1, 2010
2009 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 99 View Comments
2009 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 99

Another wine flirting with perfection is the 2009 Syrah Obsidian Vineyard. It tastes as if it came from Michel Ogier’s Cote Brune vineyards in northern Cote Rotie. A potentially legendary Syrah, it exhibits notes of charcuterie, roasted meats, bouquet garni, blackberries, black raspberries and charcoal. The wine reveals wonderful sucrosity from the sweet tannins, ripe, but not over-ripe fruit, full body, and a finish that lasts 50 seconds. This remarkable Syrah should be a modern day legend in California. It will age effortlessly for 10-15+ years.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate December 30, 2013
2007 Richard’s Family Vineyard Syrah 97-100 View Comments
2007 Richard’s Family Vineyard Syrah 97-100

Flirting with perfection, the 2007 Syrah Richard’s Vineyard (100% Syrah and 100% whole clusters aged 31 months in French barrels of which 75% are new) is a staggering effort. This Cote Rotie-like (it is no surprise that one of proprietor Joe Donelan’s favorite wines is Rene Rostaing’s Cote Rotie Cote Blonde) effort displays remarkable floral/lavender characteristics (these rocky soils were once used for a lavender farm) along with a dense purple color and an awesome bouquet of spring flowers, blueberries, blackberries and white chocolate. It hits the palate with a crescendo of intense, ripe, concentrated black fruits interwoven with barrique, charcoal and burning ember-like flavors. With staggering quality and full body as well as modest alcohol (14.2%) for a wine of such great ripeness, this riveting 2007 Syrah should provide immense pleasure over the next 15+ years. Don’t miss it!

Robert M. Parker Jr. The Wine Advocate February 1, 2011
2008 Richard’s Family Vineyard Syrah 97 View Comments
2008 Richard’s Family Vineyard Syrah 97

This is not only one of the best Syrahs of the vintage, it’s easily the greatest Syrah ever produced from Sonoma Valley. Stuns with its soft, complex, black and blue berry, teriaki beef, black pepper and sandalwood flavors. The depth is unbelievable, the length impressive. Clearly a first growth Syrah, and should develop bottle complexity for the next six years, if not longer.

Steve Heimoff The Wine Enthusiast June 1, 2011
2008 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 96-99 View Comments
2008 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 96-99

Donelan’s 2008 Syrah Obsidian Vineyard may be a candidate for perfection. Made from 100% Syrah and 50% whole clusters, it will spend 18 months in French barrels (one-third new). Slightly different than the 2007, it offers a striking floral component intermixed with melted licorice, abundant graphite, blackberry, and black currant notes, with some earthiness and barbecue smoke notes in the background. The wine possesses terrific minerality, laser-like precision, and enormous richness as well as length. This is an amazing, opulent, huge wine that offers ethereal elegance and precision.

Robert M. Parker Jr. The Wine Advocate February 1, 2010
2008 Cuvée Keltie Syrah 94-96 View Comments
2008 Cuvée Keltie Syrah 94-96

The 2008 Syrah Cuvee Keltie (100% Syrah with 75% whole clusters, and aged 26 months in French oak barrels, 20% of which are new) reveals Hermitage-like characteristics of ground pepper, roasted meats, damp earth, Christmas fruitcake, blackberries and incense. Rich and full-bodied with loads of tannin and a backward, brooding personality, this sensational wine is meant for true connoisseurs who are willing to give it some time in the cellar. It should evolve for 15 or more years.

Robert M. Parker Jr The Wine Advocate February 1, 2011
2009 Cuvée Keltie Syrah 98+ View Comments
2009 Cuvée Keltie Syrah 98+

Also remarkable, the 2009 Cuvee Keltie leans more toward a Chave style of Hermitage, particularly their Cuvee Cathelin. An inky/black color is followed by abundant notes of creme de cassis, roast beef, blackberries, bouquet garni and graphite. This extremely full-bodied, dense 2009 saturates the palate with intensity, and the finish lasts for nearly 60 seconds. This gorgeous 2009 should drink well for 15+ years.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate
2010 Cuvée Keltie Syrah 94-96 View Comments
2010 Cuvée Keltie Syrah 94-96

A homage to old world Syrah, yet with a California level of polish, the 2010 Donelan Syrah Cuvée Keltie comes from cooler plots (Obsidian, Richards, Kobler, Windsor Oaks, and Walker Vine Hill) and was fermented with 100% whole clusters before spending 24 months in neutral French oak. It delivers a first-rate bouquet of black raspberries, spice-rubbed meat, tobacco leaf, and pepper that flows to a medium to full-bodied, seamless, and gorgeously pure palate that has nothing out of place...Opening up over the evening and showing superb freshness, an elegant, layered profile, and ripe tannic structure on the finish, this superb example of cool-climate Syrah will benefit from another 2-3 years in the cellar, and shine for 12-15.

Jeb Dunnuck The Rhone Report
2009 Walker Vine Hill Vineyard Syrah 98 View Comments
2009 Walker Vine Hill Vineyard Syrah 98

Flirting with perfection is the opaque black/purple-colored 2009 Syrah Walker Vine Hill. Reminiscent of some of the perfect Syrahs from Sine Qua Non, it exhibits a complex, meaty, majestic perfume, lots of blackberry, licorice and incense characteristics, a super-rich, full-bodied mouthfeel that is neither heavy nor overbearing, the fruit is perfectly ripe without going over the edge. What a great wine! It should continue to drink well for another 10+ years.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate December 30, 2013
2010 Walker Vine Hill Vineyard Syrah 95 View Comments
2010 Walker Vine Hill Vineyard Syrah 95

A profound effort, the 2010 Syrah Walker Vine Hill (just under 14% natural alcohol) displays blueberry and blackberry liqueur notes intermixed with licorice, camphor and bouquet garni. Full-bodied with stunning richness, a head-turning, flamboyant perfume, and a long finish, it should drink well for at least a decade.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate December 30, 2013
2011 Richards Vineyard Syrah 95 View Comments
2011 Richards Vineyard Syrah 95

The 2011 Syrah Richard's Family is a powerful, rich wine that spent 36 months in wood. It boasts lots of blackberry, black currant, licorice, forest floor and truffle-like notes. Opulent and full-bodied, it is an incredible success for this challenging vintage. Consume it over the next decade.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate December 30, 2013
2010 Cuvee Christine Syrah 95 View Comments
2010 Cuvee Christine Syrah 95

The 2010 Syrah Cuvee Christine could easily pass for a California version of a Northern Rhone Hermitage. Its black/purple color is accompanied by notes of camphor, graphite, creme de cassis and acacia flowers. The wine is super-rich, intense and full-bodied with good underlying minerality as well as loads of fruit and glycerin as well as a powerful, long finish with sweet tannin. It should drink well for a decade or more.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate December 30, 2013
2011 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 94 View Comments
2011 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 94

The 2010 Syrah Cuvee Christine could easily pass for a California version of a Northern Rhone Hermitage. Its black/purple color is accompanied by notes of camphor, graphite, creme de cassis and acacia flowers. The wine is super-rich, intense and full-bodied with good underlying minerality as well as loads of fruit and glycerin as well as a powerful, long finish with sweet tannin. It should drink well for a decade or more.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate December 30, 2013
2012 Venus Roussanne/Viognier 93 View Comments
2012 Venus Roussanne/Viognier 93

The lovely 2012 Roussanne Venus, always one of the last to be harvested, this blend of 97% Roussanne and 3% Viognier spent ten months in neutral oak. Most of the Roussane comes from the Dry Stack Vineyard in Dry Creek (also well-known for its Sauvignon Blanc fruit). The 2012 offers sumptuous aromas of lychee,

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate December 30, 2013
2011 Two Brothers Pinot noir 92 View Comments
2011 Two Brothers Pinot noir 92

The red wines include the 2011 Pinot Noir Two Brothers which comes from four relatively high elevation sources, three in Sonoma and one in Mendocino. It was aged 18 months in 20% new French oak and finished with 14.4% alcohol. Its medium ruby color is followed by seductive aromas of kirsch, strawberries, loamy soil and a hint of oak in the background. A remarkably successful 2011, it is a medium-bodied, velvety, long Pinot Noir to consume over the next 5-7 years.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate December 30, 2013
2008 Walker Vine Hill Vineyard Syrah 94-97 View Comments
2008 Walker Vine Hill Vineyard Syrah 94-97

The 2008 Donelan Syrah Walker Vine Hill (100% Syrah, 55% whole clusters) possesses slightly lower alcohol (15.6% versus 15.9% in 2007). It represents a hypothetical Euro/California hybrid blend. More concentrated than the 2007, the inky/purple-hued, full-bodied 2008 reveals beautiful blue and black fruits intermixed with hints of graphite, toast, roasted Provencal herbs, meat juices, and pepper. Gorgeous purity, a fabulous texture, and a long, 40+ second, full-bodied finish suggest this terrific wine will drink well for 10-15 years.

Robert M. Parker Jr. The Wine Advocate February 1, 2010
2012 Cuvée Keltie Syrah 99 View Comments
2012 Cuvée Keltie Syrah 99

The 2012 Syrah Cuvée Keltie is a selection of choice blocks of vineyards they work, such as the Obsidian, Walker Vine Hill, Richard’s, Steiner Ranch. It’s meant to be their crème de la crème offering, and this wine’s score suggests that they succeeded. 100% Syrah aged 20 months in neutral French oak, it tips the scales at 14.7% natural alcohol. An opaque purple color offers up notes of pen ink, white chocolate, charcuterie, lavender, blackberry and pepper aromas. Very full- bodied with a multidimensional mouthfeel, layers of fruit, glycerin and intensity, this is stunning stuff and a candidate for perfection with more bottle age. Drink this remarkable, prodigious Syrah over the next 20-25 years. By the way, this is 100% whole cluster, and indigenous yeasts were used for both alcohol and malolactic fermentation.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate
2012 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 97 View Comments
2012 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 97

My two favorite wines included the 2012 Syrah Obsidian Vineyard from Knights Valley. Aged 20 months in 43% new French oak for 20 months, this is a bigger wine at 14.7% alcohol that comes from rather remarkable volcanic soils with shiny, black obsidian rock looking like marble. There is severe stress in these vineyards and the roots force deep into the volcanic soils for nourishment. This wine, from a vineyard planted in 1970s, shows notes of gunflint, camphor, scorched earth and an almost primordial, brooding richness and intensity. Blackberry and cassis are the fruit flavors, there’s some smokiness and lots of thickness and richness. This is a massive, very intense, full-throttle Syrah that should age effortlessly for 20 or more years.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate
2012 Walker Vine Hill Syrah 92+ View Comments
2012 Walker Vine Hill Syrah 92+

The single-vineyard Syrah, the 2012 Syrah Walker Vine Hill comes from the heart of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay country in Russian River, just up the street from the Kistler and Dehlinger wineries. Relatively modest in alcohol by certain California Syrah standards (13.7%), it was aged 20 months in 23% new French Oak. The wine, which they’ve been producing since 2001, has a deep ruby purple color, a big sweet kiss of roasted meats, herbs, pepper and spice, blackberry fruit that unfolds gracefully in a full-bodied but elegant, stylish nose, with a hint of pepper and spice box. The last vintage will be 2013, as they will no longer have access to this vineyard. This wine should drink well for 10-15 years.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate
2012 Kobler Vineyard Syrah 96 View Comments
2012 Kobler Vineyard Syrah 96

Another cool-climate Syrah from the Green Valley in Russian River is the 2012 Syrah Kobler Family Vineyard. This is cofermented with 10% Viognier and definitely has a Chinese black tea character. It came in at 13.5% alcohol and 9% new oak was used in the aging, which took place over 20 months. The wine comes across like a Guigal single-vineyard Côte-Rôtie, with notes of lychee nuts, honeysuckle, apricot, marmalade intermixed with cassis, kirsch and blacker fruits. Velvety textured, opulent and voluptuous, this full-bodied, lush, sexy style Syrah should drink beautifully for another decade or more.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate
2013 Genevieve’s Block Chardonnay 94 View Comments
2013 Genevieve’s Block Chardonnay 94

The 2013 Chardonnay Genevieve's Block, which comes from a west-facing hillside vineyard near Sebastopol, is a more limited cuvée at 346 cases. About 38% new oak was used. The wine tips the scales at 14.5% alcohol. This wine has naturally high acidity, a rather stunning nose of wet rocks, honeyed citrus, peach blossom, with leesy brioche notes, an intense medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, good structure and a hint of tangerine oil. This is a stunner that comes across like a great Corton-Charlemagne from Burgundy.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate
2013 Nancie Chardonnay 94 View Comments
2013 Nancie Chardonnay 94

The 2013 Chardonnay Nancie (1,620 cases) is aged in 18% new oak for ten months and is slightly lower in alcohol at 14.1%. Crisp pear notes along with citrus blossom and wet rocks are followed by a medium to full-bodied, singular style with notes of white currants and apple skin. This is a medium to full-bodied, fresh, concentrated, locked-and-loaded style of wine. The terrific acidity and modest alcohol (for a Chardonnay these days) give it wonderful uplift and vibrancy. Drink it over the next 4-5 years.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate
2013 Venus Roussanne/Viognier 93 View Comments
2013 Venus Roussanne/Viognier 93

Joe Donelan's very successful white is the Roussanne-Viognier blend called Venus. The 2013 Venus, which comes from three vineyards: the Dry Stack Vineyard, which I love for Sauvignon Blanc as well; the Vivio Vineyard and Kobler Vineyard all in Green Valley. The blend is 98% Roussanne and 2% Viognier. The 2013 is a beauty with lots of rose petals, lychee, honeysuckle are followed by a crisp, medium-bodied very stylish wine that seems to have much more minerality than most Roussannes tend to offer as they frequently can get quite oily and rich, but an interesting in that style as well. Nice tropical note of mandarin oranges also makes an appearance in this zesty blend, which was barrel-aged ten months in , I assume, relatively neutral oak puncheons, so as not to interfere with the fruit character. Drink over the next several years.

Robert Parker The Wine Advocate
2013 Obsidian Syrah 99 View Comments
2013 Obsidian Syrah 99

Robert Parker
2013 Cuvee Keltie Syrah 97 View Comments
2013 Cuvee Keltie Syrah 97

Robert Parker
2013 Richards Family Syrah 98 View Comments
2013 Richards Family Syrah 98

Wine Advocate
2014 Tripp’s Block Pinot Noir 92 View Comments
2014 Tripp’s Block Pinot Noir 92

Wine Advocate
2014 Cushing’s Block Pinot Noir 94+ View Comments
2014 Cushing’s Block Pinot Noir 94+

Wine Advocate
2014 Cuvée Moriah 92 View Comments
2014 Cuvée Moriah 92

A blend of 84% Grenache and 16% Mourvedre and produced with 45% whole cluster inclusion, the 2014 Cuvee Moriah has a medium garnet-purple color and notes of cherry preserves, raspberry pie and spice cake with hints of potpourri and garrigue. Full-bodied and bursting with red berry preserves and spicy flavors, it is a wonderfully structured style of Grenache with a firm backbone of ripe, velvety tannins and finishing with great freshness. 680 cases were made.

Wine Advocate
2014 Cuvée Christine Syrah 93 View Comments
2014 Cuvée Christine Syrah 93

Produced using 33% whole cluster and aged for 21 months in French oak, 33% new, the 2014 Syrah Cuvee Christine has a deep garnet-purple color and a great core of black and blue fruits—wild blueberries, black cherries and cassis—with touches of Mediterranean herbs, roses, tar and black earth. Medium-bodied with an elegantly fruity yet intensely flavored palate, it has a harmonious frame of rounded tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing with a perfumed lift. 634 cases were made.

Wine Advocate
2014 Kobler Family Vineyard Syrah 94+ View Comments
2014 Kobler Family Vineyard Syrah 94+

Blended of 90% Syrah and 10% Viognier and aged in oak for 21 months in entirely used oak, the 2014 Syrah Kobler Family Vineyard has a medium to deep garnet-purple color and nose of crushed black berries, black plums and black currants with underlying hints of tar, licorice, black olives and black pepper. Medium-bodied and quite elegant in the mouth, the perfumed layers have wonderful energy and persistence while the grainy tannins lend savory chewiness to the fruit and spice. 508 cases were made.

Wine Advocate
2014 Cuvée Keltie Syrah 96+ View Comments
2014 Cuvée Keltie Syrah 96+

The 2014 Syrah Cuvee Keltie has a deep garnet-purple color and was aged 21 months in oak, none of it new, and uses around 80% whole cluster. It opens with tar and asphalt notes over a core of cassis, baked blackberries and dark chocolate with hints of cloves, aniseed, roses and salami. The palate has a very firm structure of chewy tannins and balanced acidity, framing the muscular black fruits and earthy/savory flavors, finishing long. It needs another 2-4 years to really shine, but should generously reward cellaring for upwards of 20+ years. 301 cases were made.

Wine Advocate
2014 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 95 View Comments
2014 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah 95

Produced using 20% whole cluster and aged for 22 months in French oak, 40% new, the 2014 Obsidian Vineyard Syrah has a deep garnet-purple color and opulently scented nose of violets, roses and cinnamon stick over a core of blueberry pie, plum preserves and mulberries with a waft of licorice. The medium to full-bodied palate is ripe, rich and highly structured, with a firm backbone of rounded tannins and a long, spicy finish. 569 cases were made.

Wine Advocate
2015 Nancie Chardonnay 93+ View Comments
2015 Nancie Chardonnay 93+

The 2015 Chardonnay Nancie was aged in French barrels for 11 months, 20% new, and did not go through malolactic. It opens with a nose of ripe nectarines, pineapples and guava with underlying notes of butterscotch, cedar and brioche. The medium-bodied palate is elegantly fruited with plenty of vivacity, delivering intense tropical and stone fruit flavors plus a satiny texture and long finish, with a little cedar poking through.

Wine Advocate
2015 Genevieve’s Block Chardonnay 97 View Comments
2015 Genevieve’s Block Chardonnay 97

The 2015 Chardonnay Genevieve’s Block offers a gorgeous nose of warm apricots, spiced apple and struck match with hints of croissant and beeswax. The medium-bodied palate has incredible intensity with loads of citrus fruit and mineral accents emerging with a silken texture and a wicked backbone of crisp of acidity, finishing very long and very minerally. 169 cases were made. It needs another 2-3 years in bottle to really strut its stuff, but you’ll be able to enjoy this baby over 10-12 years+ thereafter.

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