It's the misunderstood grape. There's no other explanation. Syrah has gotten a bad rap on the marketplace because so many are simple: they are either overripe and overextracted, or dilute and pedestrian. But for those who look more carefully, particularly at the small-batch production of some of California's most brilliant winemakers -- people like David Ramey, Eric Sussman at Radio Coteau, Joey Tensely, and Jason Drew -- we find wines that are among the most honed, opulent wines in California.
We had heard a lot about Jason Drew's wines before we traveled up the coast to meet him at his spectacular perch 2,200 feet in elevation on Mendocino Ridge. He had worked with Bryan Babcock in the 1990s, a perfect incubator for winemaking fanaticism. Back in the early 1990s, Babcock was known for ferreting out impractically tiny vineyards from which to draw just a few tons of fruit. There was 11 Oaks Sauvignon Blanc and a Mount Carmel Chardonnay sourced from the Carmelite monks at "Mt. Carmel." From that early beginning, Jason learned the art of the vineyard ferret and resolved to work only with exceptional vineyards, often what he calls "extreme" vineyards.
This Syrah from Perli Vineyard is true to form. Rich, muscled, and white pepper-infused , the 2007 Perli Vineyard Syrah, is made from grapes grown at 2,200 feet in elevation on Mendocino Ridge, just 12 miles from the Pacific. Deep violet color with generous wafts of fresh berries, on the palate this gem is packed with dark red cherries, laced with earthiness. Even tannins and bright acidity provide balance and vibrancy.
Perli Vineyard Mendocino Ridge
Enjoy it with a roasted rack of lamb this holiday season.