Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Zaca Mesa Clydesdale Santa Barbara Santa Ynez Syrah 2016

 Zaca Mesa Clydesdale Santa Barbara County Santa Ynez Valley Syrah 2016

For midweek sipping with artisan cheeses and fresh fruits and nuts we opened this Santa Barbara County Syrah from the Santa Ynez Valley. We discovered, tasted and acquired this wine during our Zaca Mesa Winery and Vineyards Visit as part of our Santa Barbara County Santa Ynez, Santa Maria Valley Wine Experience last month. We joined their wine club and received this bottle as part of our first inaugural allocation shipment.

Zaca Mesa is a family and close knit group owned and operated winery with a storied history in Santa Barbara County. This label, Clydesdale Zaca Mesa Vineyards Syrah, pays homage to co-founder John Cushman's family’s historical middle name, Clydesdale.

I wrote in my detailed account of Zaca Mesa and our estate vineyard and winery visit about Cushman and a group of friends purchasing the land that would become Zaca Mesa in 1972. At that time, it was only the third winery to exist in Santa Barbara County. Through much experimentation to determine the best grape varietal (s) to match with the terroir - terrain, climate, soil, elevation, exposure - all that attributes of a site, they planted their first block of Syrah in 1978 (known as the Black Bear Block). 

Syrah emerged as the 'flagship' varietal of Zaca Mesa with over half of the vineyards eventually planted to the varietal, along with the other Rhone varietals that became predominant in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Zaca Mesa Syrah reflects the vineyard sites, producing fruit with medium acidity since Zaca Mesa is situated at the high elevations of the mesas in the valley at altitudes about 1,500 feet above sea level. That, along with the cool Pacific Ocean breezes that follow the transverse aligned mountain ranges and valleys that are perpendicular to the ocean shore, allows the grapes to mature and retain their all important acidity.

Producer notes about this label: The 2016 Clydesdale is a superb expression of Syrah from our estate vineyard. The core of black fruits are intertwined with notes of violet, tobacco, and leather. The voluminous texture cascades along your palate, carrying flavors of red plum, blackberry, and hints of toasted spice. This wine is impressive with depth and character, perfectly suited to age in your wine cellar for many years to come, or enjoy upon release.

Winemaker Bryden says, "I like a balance between strength and elegance," she said. "A core of black and red fruits mixed in with some earth and spice and structure as well. Part of the beauty of syrah is the structure of the wine. If you can get all that into one glass, you're doing a good job."

For this particular wine, harvest took place at the end of August and beginning of September 2016.

"It was a great vintage," Bryden said. "This wine is made of multiple blocks. With syrah, we have nine different clones of syrah on the property—different vine age, different root stalks—so they tend to ripen at different stages. That's where the range comes from."

This Syrah is sourced from five different blocks (along with a few sub blocks) from a south facing hillside of the vineyard. 

"I think the tannin profile is a little softer," she said. "We aged it a month longer than some of our reserves, and there is just a nice viscosity to the wine."

This was dark blackish garnet colored, more medium than full bodied, somewhat subdued core of black berry and plum fruits are accented by notes of cassis, tobacco, black tea, hints of soy and caramel on a moderate smooth finish. 

RM 91 points. 

Wine Enthusiast awarded this 94 points while Antonio Galloni of Parkers Wine Advocate gave it 93 points.


Zaca Mesa Winery Twitter - @ZacaMesa_Wine