When we first tasted the Dutton-Goldfield Syrah "Cherry Ridge" in a blind tasting, we all guessed Northern Rhone. With its red fruit aromatic purity, wonderful vibrancy, fine length and alcoholic restraint, no one guessed California, let alone the cool climate of the Sonoma Coast. But, when we unmasked the wine and saw the name of the producer and the locale where the grapes were grown, it all made sense.
Dutton-Goldfield is a perfect marriage between a family of world-renowned grapegrowers and a brilliant winemaker with an incredible knack for coaxing all the complexities from his grapes. Dutton Ranch is one of California's most sought after sources of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but when grapegrower Steve Dutton was looking to plant on a warmer hillside vineyard, he and his winemaker partner, Dan Goldfield, decided Syrah was the perfect fit for the site. It's easy to see why Goldfield was so excited by this tiny, 3-acre planting on "Cherry Ridge."
Many of the world's most captivating wines are grown in an unusually warm spot in a fairly cool microclimate. No one is more tuned in to this principle than Dan Goldfield, a guy who spends dozens of hours per week pedaling his racing bike through the backroads of Sonoma, scouring the hillsides for special vineyard opportunities. When he first saw Cherry Ridge in Sebastopol, he knew it would be a great site for Syrah. The vineyard, situated on a south-facing slope on the western edge of the Green Valley, is just temperate enough to ripen Syrah in a region best known for the cold-loving Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. 2004 provided a perfect scenario on Cherry Ridge. The unusually warm growing season allowed this cool-climate Syrah to ripen to the maximum providing luscious berry fruit, bright acidity, intense color and silky tannins.
Like the great Northern Rhone Syrahs, this is a terrifically versatile wine that matches up beautifully to all kinds of cuisine--a function of the relatively low alcohol levels (13.5%) and wonderful, long, firm finish.
Suggested Food Pairing:
A whole grilled rack of lamb with rosemary and roasted potatoes. A nice piece of firm sheep's milk cheese to finish.