2010 Beckmen Vineyards Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley
Expert Rating
ST 92 points
(Read the full review below)
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Purisima Mountain Vineyard 92pt Magic on Purisima Mountain

We couldn't figure it out. In the Fall of 2010, we'd just returned from a week-long tasting trip in Santa Barbara. As was the case in Napa and Sonoma, despite a couple of heat spikes, the 2010 growing season on the southern California coastline had been unusually cool, magically extending hang time. In Ballard Canyon, the Sta. Rita Hills and the cooler spots of Santa Maria, the region's most talented winemakers marveled at both the richness -- and freshness -- of their Pinot Noir and Syrah. Still, not a single critical voice had confirmed what the winegrowers knew to be so. All that would change a year later, on the last days of November 2012.

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar finally broke the story of what many down here believe is the finest vintage in Santa Barbara winemaking history. A wet, chilly spring was followed by the coolest summer in memory. A torrid heat spike at the end of August threw a monkey wrench into the plans of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producers seeking ultra-concentration. For those Burgundian c├ępages, those who harvested earliest seemed to perform the best.

But the most startling wines of the year would come from the later-ripening varieties -- most specifically, the region's big-name Syrahs. On the steep, biodynamically farmed, limestone hillsides of Purisima Mountain, Steve Beckmen would handpick a tiny crop of intensely concentrated, juicy Syrah -- each berry infused with scintillating natural acidity.

Still, Beckmen understood the early reticence of the critics. "In many ways, it was an odd vintage, and the writers didn't know what to make of it. Most people know our Syrahs for their black color and lushness. But as a grower, you're not just farming for concentration, but for balance. For the first time since 1998 up here on the mountain, we had it all -- great ripeness, sleek texture, focus, and terrific acid backbone."

The International Wine Cellar said it best, describing Beckmen's miracle Syrah as "sappy and penetrating ... pack[ing] a serious punch, but manag[ing] to come off as lithe and precise." Tanzer's 92pt addendum would vault the 2010 Purisima Mountain Syrah into the upper echelon of under-$30 California reds from this strikingly cool, utterly astounding vintage.

Tasting Notes

2010 Beckmen Vineyards Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley
"Opaque ruby. Intense, spice-accented aromas of red and dark berries, violet, anise and black olive. Sappy and penetrating, offering gently sweet black raspberry and cherry flavors and an exotic touch of candied flowers. Becomes smokier with air and finishes with excellent clarity and lingering sweetness. Packs a serious punch but manages to come off as lithe and precise, which is a hallmark of the best wines of this vintage."
92 points -- Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

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