Winemaker Joey Tensley's understanding of the importance of truly unusual vineyard sites has helped place him into the highest echelon of California's Syrah producers. Tensley seeks out some of the most extreme growing sites in Santa Barbara County, rightfully recognizing that harsh conditions make for intensely concentrated wines. Since he launched his own label in 1998 with a specific focus on single-vineyard bottlings, he's been producing Syrahs and other Rhone varietals with a minimalist's touch, emphasizing stellar viticulture over enhancements in the winery.
Located in Happy Canyon, at the eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley, Three Creek Vineyard benefits from the rocky conditions and warmth that distinguish this part of the valley. The early morning fog burns off long before the rest of the valley, providing longer days of heat, yet the daily marine wind picks up again around late afternoon, quickly cooling the region. The vineyard itself is farmed organically, and the rugged terrain yields a Syrah that is muscular and meaty.
The 2006 vintage here was unusually temperate, with temperatures hovering in the 70s into the third week of September. The grapes were in perfect shape, gaining ripeness slowly. Then, a warm front came in and temperatures spiked to nearly 100 degrees for a week. The result is a wine bursting with a deep, rich core of black and red fruits and a streak of creme de cassis. While this wine is very appealing now, its firm tannic structure makes it one that can age for the next 10 to 15 years.
This wine will pair well with simple meat dishes, like stews and barbecue.