Planted in 2001, this dry-farmed Syrah vineyard is situated on a steep slope at 2,100 feet elevation. The vineyard’s terraces wrap around the face of the hillside giving it expositions from the south to the east. Situated above the fog line, the eastern side of the vineyard gets some of the morning sun that lower elevations don’t see until later in the morning once the fog has burned off for the day. True to its native Rhône, there is a pétanque court and olive trees between the terraces of Syrah.
This site captures the wild elegance I seek in Syrah. Where Grist Vineyard gives a joyful and bright expression, Casa Vineyard’s Syrah is brooding and intense. The signature Santa Cruz Mountains cocoa nib smell is layered over a classic bacon fat and olive structure. I make this wine in much the same way I made Syrah at Rhys and with Éric Texier, but pulled back on the whole cluster to half to capture more of the delicate high-toned aromatics. The whole clusters go on top of the destemmed grapes and are then spritzed with grape spirit (“gnolle” in France) to prevent kloeckera growth (and volatile acidity) in the lead up to fermentation. The other half of the fruit is destemmed and goes below the whole clusters to have more thermal insulation as it kicks off fermentation. After 2 weeks of maceration, the dry wine is racked to used French oak barrel where it rests on fine lees for 11 months before bottling
This wine was bottled in August 2022 but will benefit from several more years of aging or a healthy decanting before serving. It has the acid and tannin structure one would expect of a wine from the Santa Cruz Mountains, with the ageability that comes with it.
Farming is organic, though uncertified given the site’s small size. With the high disease pressure of the Santa Cruz Mountains, farming clean fruit organically is a constant battle. This vineyard is sprayed with stylet oil (a highly purified form of mineral oil) and a kitchen sink’s worth of beneficial bacteria to biologically control mildew. Those include Regalia, Triathlon BA, Actinovate, Sonata and Serenade.
This vineyard was the passion project of a Frenchman named Gilles. He sadly passed away from cancer in February of 2021, and so this is the last vintage from his vineyard.
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