2007 Arnot-Roberts Syrah Griffin's Lair Vineyard Sonoma Coast

Arnot-Roberts Syrah Griffin's Lair Vineyard Sonoma Coast The wunderkind wineries always made our ears twitch. When we left the makeshift garage in Forestville on Sonoma Coast, where Duncan Meyers and Nathan Roberts are making micro-lots of some of the most intensely flavored, muscled, but wonderfully fresh Syrahs in the world, we could feel the twitch coming on.

There are several elements that defines wunderkinds. First, each began making minuscule cuvees, often just a few barrels of each wine, tossing out what didn't make the cut in a wild drive to perfection. Second, each worked with grapes planted in the best spots on the world for their varieties, then made sure that those vines were farmed to perfection. Last, all were risk-takers, willing to go way out on a limb, even if there was just a slim chance that the risk could give them an edge.

This offer is for two indescribably rich, chewy, explosive, high-toned Syrahs. Each was among the top 5 red wines we tasted during a week of tastings in Napa and Sonoma in August. One is from Griffin's Lair, the other from the amazing Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino. This is winemaking on the edge, and while there's precious little to go around (about 6 barrels of each wine), the tasting note noise made by each bottle is all too reminiscent of Zind-Humbrecht, Dagueneau and Harlan.

What differentiates these two brilliant young winemakers? It's a kind of lighthearted discipline that hovers over their impossible-to-find winery (not sure Duncan and Nathan want to be found!) in this don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it-town. While most producers of Syrah eschew whole cluster fermentation out of fear for the green flavors that could be imparted from the stems, this pair embraces it. Why? When you pay this much fanatical attention to the grapes that make it to the fermenter, under ripeness or physiological immaturity is hardly a concern. It shows through in both wines. There are a bunch of excellent, cool climate Syrahs coming out of the North Coast of California, but few, if any, match these for the marriage of richness, vibrancy and tremendous chewy density -- the latter attributable to the work with whole clusters.

Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts
Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts
Tasting Notes
"Inky ruby. Vibrant, seductively perfumed aromas of black raspberry, violet face powder, anise and cracked pepper. Weighty dark berry flavors are brightened by zesty minerals, picking up a candied floral quality with aeration. The finish repeats the deep dark berry note and leaves spicy floral and mineral notes behind. Very elegant wine, with the balance to reward patience. This was fermented with 100% whole clusters."
94 points -- Steven Tanzer's International Wine Cellar