2019 Syrah Benchland
VARIETAL/VINEYARD: Our Syrah Benchland was planted in 1991, making it our oldest vineyard block. Our Syrah bud wood came from the Durell vineyard in Sonoma. The chalky, rocky, and well-drained soils have always produced small berries that result in a dark and intense wine. There is an unmistakable smoked meat element to wine from this vineyard, making it our most unique Syrah.
VINTAGE: Heavy rainfall in February allowed us to essentially “dry farm” our vines in 2019. The summer growing season was warm but moderate, which allowed for superior flavor and tannin development, as evidenced by slightly later than normal harvest dates. Combined with our strict crop-thinning protocol, 2019 will definitely go down as a great vintage for Dry Creek Valley reds.
WINEMAKING: Our winemaking for this Syrah is consistent and straightforward. It was fermented in a small stainless steel or concrete tank, which provides excellent extraction. We de-stemmed the fruit, as we have not had great success using whole cluster fermentation with this vineyard. After a 5-day cold soak, fermentation began with indigenous yeast. We punched down the cap once a day and pressed at dryness. Since this is one of our more full-bodied wines, we aged it in 35% new French Oak barrels for 17 months. It is 100% Syrah.
STYLE/DESCRIPTION: Almost 30 years since their original planting, our Benchland Syrah vines are slowing down, in a good way. The vines’ crop level is more in balance with its root development, resulting in more consistent and high-quality fruit. 2019 was an excellent growing season for our Rhône varieties thanks to plenty of winter rain and even ripening at harvest. The result is one of our most complex Northern Rhône-like Syrahs we’ve ever made from this vineyard. It has intense color and fruit, a distinct savory character you’ve come to love from this vineyard, AND a bit more complexity and finesse. While this ’19 Benchland has the structure to age 5-7 years, the refined tannins are allowing it to show well now. - MU