I must say, California wine country is simply stunning in the Fall! During our recent visit to the legendary North Coast, which encompasses Napa and Sonoma counties among others, we encountered towering trees cloaked in their seasonal reddish, gold splendor, refreshingly chillsome evenings (we ARE from Florida after all!), as well as many amazing wines. While I look forward to sharing them with you over the coming weeks, I was especially inspired to feature one wine in particular as our latest Wine of the Week, the 2014 Failla Syrah Estate Vineyard.
While Failla primarily focuses on cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, owner and winemaker Ehren Jordan‘s eclectic winemaking experiences and sheer vinous talent allow him to work adeptly with many different grape varieties extremely well. As a fan of Syrah from the Northern Rhone, I was very impressed with his ability to craft a California wine that so closely approximates its French counterpart while allowing its terroir, and the character of the new Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, to shine through. Please read on to discover more about this very special wine that’s just perfect for enjoying during the chilly Winter months.
Who it’s from: Winemaker Ehren Jordan and his wife Anne-Marie founded Failla in 1998 and together they specialize in sourcing cool climate fruit from the extreme coastal areas of Sonoma County. Jordan draws inspiration from his time spent in France, namely a 2-year apprenticeship in Cornas in the Northern Rhone where he specialized in Syrah, which continues to inform his winemaking style. He also held positions in California, first at Neyers Vineyards and then at Turley Wine Cellars, where he spent almost 20 years crafting world class Zinfandel. Jordan is perhaps most passionate about producing balanced, elegant, food-friendly wines that are expressive of their terroir.
Where it’s from: This wine hails from Failla’s 14-acre Estate Vineyard located in the Fort Ross Seaview AVA, a sub-region of the vast Sonoma Coast AVA, which was officially approved in 2011. Vineyards here are situated in the steep coastal ridges above the fog line where most of the surrounding terrain is too steep to farm. Out of over 27,000 acres in the AVA, only 550 are actually usable! Only Failla and a few other esteemed vintners were willing to brave the uniquely challenging conditions including Flowers, Marcassin, Hirsch, Pahlmeyer, Martinelli, Del Dotto and Peter Michael to name a few. The region’s unusually rugged terrain, high elevations, cool maritime climate and marine soils create the perfect environment for growing exceptional cool climate grape varieties.
“To me ‘terroir’ is distilling a place down to its essence using grapes as the medium.” – Ehren Jordan
Originally planted in 1998, Failla’s Estate Vineyard is located only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean and has been organically and dry farmed since the beginning. Jordan harvested the first grapes from the vineyard in 2001 and has increased production ever since. The special Estate Vineyard, located at approximately 1,400 ft. elevation, is currently planted to cool climate grape varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
This Wine by the (geeky) Numbers:
Primary Fermentation: Native Yeast
Malolactic Fermentation: Native
Elevage: 11 months, aged Sur-Lie in French oak barrique, 25% new
Filtration: Unfined & Unfiltered
Grape variety: 100% Syrah, 20 yr. old vines
Production: 382 cases
Production notes: “Our 100% whole cluster “Estate Vineyard” Syrah was gently foot-tread, fermented with native yeasts, and basket pressed to barrel, where it competed a native ML conversion and rested on its lees until being bottled unfined and unfiltered.”
The Glamorous Gourmet’s Tasting Note: “From its lush, purplish-red hue to enticing aromas of spiced black fruit, savory herbs and a hint of lavender, this delightful expression of California Syrah simultaneously evokes the elegance of the Northern Rhone. On the palate, this stunner reveals savory layers of blackberry, plum, licorice and black pepper while demonstrating impressive complexity and richness without seeming heavy. All components harmoniously converge on the imminently satisfying, lengthy finish.”
Pair it with: Rosemary & Salt crusted Prime Rib, Roasted Rack of Lamb, Pasta with Wild Boar Ragu
Retail Price: $58 (for purchasing information, please e-mail stephanie [at] theglamorousgourmet [dot] com or simply call 561.317.6663)
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