However, the birthplace of Syrah seems to be the Northern Rhône Valley. Recent DNA research shows Syrah to be a cross between Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. Both of these varieties are indigenous to France. Syrah is planted from the cool regions of the Northern Rhône where it is bottled as a single varietal, to the tip of the Southern Rhône where it is often blended with other varietals.
The Vintage: The 2011 growing season provides us yet another lower alcohol, cool climate vintage. Our vineyard heat accumulation finished up at 1,794 degree days. This continues the run of cooler vintages that began in 2007. The wines produced from these cool vintages very much reflect the vineyard site and how they were tended throughout the season.
The 2011 vintage got off to a relatively late start in the Spring. We typically see the first buds breaking around the 15th of April (Note: this is harvest time for the IRS), but Mother Nature must have filed for an extension, so we waited until the 5th of May. The growing season was cold and protracted.
We have come to accept that the months that matter most are the ones that end in “ber.” September put on a strong showing with warm dry days and cool nights. This was the weather we were hoping for all year. The weather held into October, and we began the annual “Cluster Pluck” on October 23rd.
You can read the full Harvest After Action Report (AAR) on our FLOG (Farming bLOG): http://amalierobert.blogspot.com/2011_11_01_archive.html
Tasting Notes: Redacted red. Black olive tapenade, tar, blackberries and black tea leaf entertain a ribbon of smoked meat. Precise and unambiguous Syrah characteristics are firmly supported by trenchant acidity. Stem tannins grip and assert structure that will evolve into spice and mouth coating texture. Deftly balanced to conquer the razors edge, this is Syrah made in Pinot Noir’s idiom. Unfined and unfiltered.
Culinary Inclinations: Smoked ham hocks braised with Pinto beans, onions, celery and red peppers served over shredded red cabbage slaw or cauliflower purée. Pair with strong cheeses and weak knees.
Top Barrel Syrah Accolades:
2011 Top Barrel
Limpid ruby. Fresh red berries cherry pit Asian spices and olive paste on the highly perfumed and incisive nose. Juicy focused and light on its feet offering bitter cherry raspberry and spicecake flavors that pick up a smoky nuance as the wine opens up. Concentrated yet lively as well finishing on a gently sweet red fruit note delivering rounded tannins and strong persistence.
- Josh Raynolds, Vinous, January 2017 - 91 points
2010 Top Barrel
Romulan red taunts smoked duck bacon, black olive, Cuban tobacco, minerals, tar, incense and freshly tilled earth. Palate staining dark fruits permeate the ever changing and remarkably suave weight and texture. The palate is then subjugated to the kaleidoscope finish of deeply intentioned cool climate Syrah, racing acidity, evolved stem tannin and a lot more than a little attitude. 24 cases produced.
- Amalie Robert Estate Tasting Notes
The 2010 Top Barrel Syrah is Ernie Pink’s interpretation of a top-level Côte-Rôtie and is a single-barrel that includes 50% whole-cluster fruit. The oak percolates through on the nose and slightly deviates the fruit from their cause. The palate is medium-bodied with supple dark cherry, red plum and brown spice flavors, impressive depth and freshness with a nicely poised finish.
- Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate, March 2015 – 90 points
Top Barrel Syrah
Top Barrel Syrah is 100% Amalie Robert Estate grown Syrah. Among our 30 acres of Pinot Noir, we have planted 0.80 acres (1,188 vines to be exact) of Syrah. This bottling is from the single best barrel of Syrah from the vintage – The Top Barrel.
We grow Syrah right along side Pinot Noir, and most of the vineyard work is very similar. The primary difference is that we have to wait until November to harvest. We think it is worth the wait.
Syrah is a very adaptive variety, and much like Pinot Noir, reflects its growing conditions. Syrah is grown in the hottest parts of the southern Hemisphere where it is known as “Shiraz” and a bit farther south into the cool climate of New Zealand as well. The entire west coast of the United States grows Syrah from California, to the warm areas of eastern Washington and now very small plantings in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.