Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Beckmen Ballard Canyon Purisima Mountain Vineyard Syrah

Beckmen Vineyards Estate Visit - Ballard Canyon Purisima Mountain Vineyard Syrah

During our visit to Santa Barbara County, Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys, we stopped in at Beckmen Vineyards. It is one of the wineries that has distribution in the Midwest (Illinois) so we can buy their wines here. Hence, we knew of Beckmen and had had their wines. But, of course, only a few labels from their broad portfolio are distributed here, so it was a chance to discover their wines. Regretably, we didn't allow or take time to do a tasting. We'll definitely make it a priority for a future visit to the region. 

Beckmen produce nearly a dozen white wines, and more than a dozen reds, primarily Rhône varietals on their vast estate vineyards. Once again, we were taken aback to discover Rhône varietals in this region, belaying our preconceptions that it is primarily Burgundian varietals (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), as we discovered with our visits to the Tensley and Zaca Mesa vineyard estates and tasting rooms.

Beckmen is a family owned and operated business founded in 1994 by Tom and Judy Beckmen, their youngest son Steve and more recently by their oldest son Jeff. Beckmen have established themselves as a leading grower and producer in Santa Barbara County, their wines crafted almost exclusively from their two vineyards sites of 150 planted acres combined, the Thomas and Judith Beckmen Estate Vineyard in Los Olivos District AVA and Purisima Mountain Vineyard in the Ballard Canyon AVA

The Beck­men Vine­yards are sited in two locations with dra­mat­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent soils and climates. See their vineyard map (s) at https://beckmenvineyards.com/blog/updated-vineyard-maps.

The 40 acre (25 plant­ed) Beckmen estate vineyard surround the winery and hospitality facilities just outside and south of the town of Los Olivos, on the west­ern bor­der of the Los Olivos Dis­trict. The Beck­men Estate is most­ly plant­ed to Caber­net Sauvi­gnon with small amounts of Grenache, Mourve­dre, and Syrah.

Several miles to the west is Purisi­ma Moun­tain on the west­ern side of Bal­lard Canyon AVA lies their 365 acre (125 acres plant­ed), Purisi­ma Moun­tain Vine­yard. Com­prised most­ly of clay and clay loam, with vary­ing amounts of grav­el, the most unique aspect of this site is the lime­stone sub­soil. The lime­stone soil lim­its vine vig­or and pro­duces small­er vines with low­er yields and more intense­ly fla­vored fruit. 

With peaks reach­ing 1,150 feet, Purisi­ma Moun­tain has almost 500 feet of ele­va­tion change with mul­ti­ple expo­sures. With a cli­mate and rare lime­stone sub­soils sim­i­lar to those found in Côte Rôtie and Châteauneuf du Pape, the vine­yard has proven per­fect for pro­duc­ing a range of Rhône vari­etals, espe­cial­ly Syrah and Grenache, Mourve­dre, and Counoise. 

PMV is also the home of Beck­men’s white wine port­fo­lio, con­sist­ing of Rosé, Sauvi­gnon Blanc, Chardon­nay, Viog­nier, and Grenache Blanc.  

Tend­ing vines from dor­man­cy through har­vest since 1994, the Beck­men's have learned about their two dis­tinct vine­yard prop­er­ties - acre by acre, the unique soil and micro­cli­mate, the elements of terroir, that best hosts each grape vari­etal, fine-tuning their plantings and viticulture to ensur­e every block in the vine­yard con­sis­tent­ly pro­duces the high­est qual­i­ty fruit possible.

The Beckmen estate is tucked back off the road from the side road south of town. 

Past the winery and production facility (below) is a hospitality center (above) with a tasting bar, outdoor decks, patios and lawns overlooking ponds. 

They offer numerous tasting flights and WBTG including some of their limited, allocated, some club-only, and Library wines.

Across the drive is the stately residence, what in France they would refer to as the Chateau, with outdoor gardens and groomed grounds overlooking and surrounded by the vineyards, with views of the hills in distance. 

As soon as we returned home I sought out Beckmen labels at our local wine merchants and found at Binny's, our big-box wine and beverage superstore this Beckmen Syrah.

Beckmen Vineyards Ballard Canyon Purisima Mountain Vineyard Syrah 2019

I must say, this label exceeded my expectations and provided great QPR - Quality Price Ratio - better than my earlier forays into this brand. I've gained a new appreciation for Rhône vari­etals from Santa Maria Valley and the range of high quality production from there. 

Winemaker notes: "The cool 2019 growing season produced a very savory vintage of PMV (Purisima Mountain Vineyard) Syrah. Cured meats, game, roasted earth, pepper, blackberry, and coco highlight the aromas of the 2019. Elegant and rounded on the palate (reminiscent of the very successful 2015 vintage), the mouth shows off sweet black fruits, dark chocolate, game, mocha, and pepper with fine tannins that carry the flavor through the very long, savory finish. A bit young and tight upon release, the 2019 should be decanted or aged for the short term and will age beautifully for the next 15-18 years or longer. Crafted from 100% certified biodynamic syrah grapes."

Antonio Galloni of Vinous gave this wine 94 points in Oct 2021. "The 2019 Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard is a wild, exotic wine. Blueberry jam, chocolate, spice, leather and licorice fill out the layers effortlessly. This unctuous, heady Syrah shows just how distinctive Ballard Canyon is. A year or two in bottle should help soften some of the harder edges."

Interesting that he notes the "harder edges", which is what I encountered and found off-putting on earlier tastings from this producer, but they were moderated and not impacting this release. This was dark inky garnet purple colored, full bodied, unctuous brambly blackberry and blueberry fruits with a nuance of sweet clove spice and vanilla punctuated by notes of licorice, black pepper and hints of dark chocolate and leather, with lingering moderate tannins on the finish. 

RM 92 points. 





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