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 2019I 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.