Galloni’s “Best Wines for the Money”
“The 2013 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard is pure class.” That’s how Antonio Galloni begins his sensational 95-point Vinous review of this wine, going on to call it “rich, seamless, and inviting” and “very beautiful.” Indeed, it’s difficult to think of a Central Coast Syrah with a finer pedigree. The winemaker is the brilliant, reclusive Adam Tolmach of Ojai Vineyards, who “makes some of the best wines readers will find anywhere for the money,” says Galloni. The vineyard is Bien Nacido, “the most famous vineyard in Santa Maria,” according to Robert Parker, home to 40-year-old vines that have produced critical smash hits from the likes of Chanin, Foxen, and Paul Lato. In the superb 2013 vintage, BB-sized Syrah berries yielded a wine that also earned a whopping 94 points from Wine Enthusiast, which sealed this wine’s collector status with an “Editors’ Choice” pick.
When it comes to makers of world-class California Syrah, there’s Joey Tensley, Steve Beckman, Sashi Moorman, and Adam Tolmach, the Wizard of Ojai. Tolmach has driven more than one grower to madness with his rigorous vineyard protocol, but his relationship with the historic Bien Nacido vineyard has been one of the longest and most rewarding. Fruit is drawn off the cool-climate parcels from custom-farmed, hand-selected rows. Adam buys by the acre, not by the ton, paying a huge premium to restrict yields, helping to account for the stunning concentration of this sumptuous Syrah.
Some claim Bien Nacido is the coldest on the coast, cooled by the maritime breezes that rip through the east-west mountains. That’s what made Adam Tolmach one of the early adopters. “These spots where vines really have to work to get their fruit ripe before the close of the season also seem to be where they develop their fullest character,” he told us. Nursing spectacular richness from Bien Nacido’s old vines, while still harboring spine-tingling crispness and nerve, the Wizard has proved his magic touch once again.