2003 MJ Syrah Dry Creek Valley

MJ Syrah Dry Creek Valley In 1990, George and Linda Unti purchased a California vineyard "handyman's special." Its 21 acres of prime benchland property was covered with broken and neglected vines that cried out for some TLC. The Untis, with son Mike, renovated the acreage block by block. Unlike many wine producers in the Napa Valley who grew Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the Untis first planted Syrah and Sangiovese, which suited their tastes and thrived in the sunny, Mediterranean-style climate. Later, they added Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Grenache, Mourvedre, Barbera and Dolcetto.

Winemaking began in 1994, and, encouraged by modest success, the Untis produced their first commercial offerings in 1997, 1600 cases of Syrah, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. In 2001, the Untis hired Sebastien Pochan, a young French winemaker whose background in wineries of Southern France was perfectly matched to the Untis' land and vision. Pochan grabbed the torch and ran with it, creating wines that are at once lush and intensely fruity, yet elegant and balanced. By 2004, the winery had grown to 5400 cases, and remained dedicated to the production of fine Zinfandel, Rhone and Italianate varieties.

In 2003, Mick and Sebastien decided to experiment with making a more traditionally Southern French wine, a la the wonderfully aromatic and intensely flavored Cote du Rhones of the southern Rhone Valley. Eschewing barrel fermentation and aging, the winery made just 600 cases of a Syrah they called MJ, a blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Grenache. This is a wonderfully fruity, powerful red wine, that is also terrifically versatile. Enjoy the 2003 MJ Syrah with grilled meats, stews and all kinds of cheeses.