There’s no end of surprise in this winemaking process. Throughout cold soaking, initial fermentation, malolactic fermentation, and aging (even if in glass carboys), our wine has taught us, above all, that it’s a living product—minute molecular shifts along the way making huge differences in the yum factor in the glass.
And when we broke open our carboys to siphon off the Syrah, we were frankly a little astounded at the variation among the lot of them, considering that the dry young wine going in over a year ago had been from just one source: Fat Buck Ridge, a remote Thomas Fogarty vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Here’s a carboy-by-carboy rundown of our tasting notes, each shorter than the last—and that's a shot of Sunset staffers toasting our first carboy of Syrah.
Carboy 1: Caused spontaneous dancing in Sunset’s parking lot. “Great fruit and color; deep, brambly blackberries, turning to blue on the finish; leafy tobacco, mocha, and black pepper.” Now there’s a Syrah!
Carboy 2: “Slightly sweeter-seeming fruit, with a little molasses character; rougher tannins, but they smooth out with a little time in the air; still excellent extraction.”
Carboy 3: “Whoa! Tannins are a little rambunctious here. Pull these bottles out in about five years!”
Carboy 4: “Ahh, more civilized again; this one’s smoother and softer.”
Carboy 5: “Sweet, integrated fruit—a goodie.”
Carboy 6: “Hmm, a little stinky at first [that is, slightly reduced], but the sulfur blows off quickly.”
Carboy 7: No notes. Consumption got the better of us.
So we have not one, but seven, Syrahs to dip into, compare, and watch as they keep on living.
By Sara Schneider, Sunset wine editor