Joey Tensley, one of the most talked-about Syrah producers in California, has had great success not just as a winemaker, but also as a mentor. At the age of 21, Tensley took 16-year old Lino Garcia under his wing for a wine-making ride that has lasted for almost two decades.
With the 2006 CLEB Syrah, Garcia had an opportunity to step out of Tensley's shadows. Garcia bought a few tons of grapes from a 15-acre Syrah vineyard in Santa Barbara County called Black Oak to make a wine of his own using Tensley's facilities. Tensley's wife buys grapes from Black Oak as well. Black Oak sits in a cool spot, close to the award winning Thompson Vineyard. The soil is a sandy calcareous mix offering wines that are concentrated and wonderfully aromatic, without the heaviness sometimes found in loamier soil.
The result of this effort is a deep-purple colored wine that shows a vibrant nose featuring cassis and red fruit. While light on its feet, the wine holds deep red-fruit flavors with hints of violet. The sandy soil comes through in the finish, offering unexpected vibrancy.
This fruit-forward red will pair splendidly with grilled lamb chops or barbecued beef brisket. For a real treat, fire up the oven and try it with roasted venison.