2010 Syrah, Paso Robles  

90 points - Wine Enthusiast

Sourced from two distinct vineyards in Paso Robles, this syrah blends the best of both worlds: power and elegance. Aromas of dark fruit, cocoa, herbs and smoke give way to flavors of ripe plum, sweet herbs and vanilla. With a balanced finish of toasted oak and firm tannins, this wine promises to age gracefully for three to five years.


Fruit was sourced from two districts of Paso Robles, an AVA with mild weather through the better part of spring, fall and winter. Summers are mostly hot and dry, but passes through the coastal range (the Templeton Gap) allow a marine layer to move inland late in the day, lowering temperatures and providing the cool evenings and nights that promote well-balanced grape acidity.

Sixty percent of the grapes were grown at VZZ Vineyard in the Willow Creek district near Paso’s western demarcation. A mere 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean, this is the coolest part of the growing region. White rocky terraces of fractured limestone-shale were carved into the steep hillside and planted with vines in 1999. The absence of topsoil challenges vines, but it pays off in rich wines clutching a calling card of earthy minerality.

The remainder of the fruit was sourced from Sextant Vineyards in the El Pomar district, a sub-region that is down wind of the Templeton Gap. Situated at 400 feet above sea level on rolling hills and terraces east of the Salinas River, the site was planted in 2000 with eight acres of syrah vines that were later trained in the vertical shoot position. The dark and heavy clay soils contain fair amounts limestone and shale that help channel photosynthesis into full grape development in lieu of excessive vine growth. The combined effect of soil and climate engenders deeply tinted syrah wines with bright fruit components.

Growing Season

Vintage 2010 produced an average size crop with full flavors and ideal acidity, but the cool year had winemakers wondering if grapes would ever ripen. Heavy rain in January and February was followed by a cold, wet March that delayed budbreak, bloom and berry set. April and May were drier, but the ripening curve remained flat under cool conditions. June, July and August saw persistent morning fog burning off to warmer afternoons. The coolness finally broke with a heat spike in late August followed by two more in September. Many vineyards were picked after the second of three storms in October with winemakers rejoicing the quality of a delayed harvest that was nearly “washed away”.

Vintage: 2010


Winemaker: George Troquato

Appellation: Paso Robles

VZZ Vineyard, Sextant Vineyards

Cases Produced: 150

Release Date:
May 2012

Varietal Content:
100% syrah

pH: 3.76

Total Acidity:
0.57 mg per 100ml

Finished Alcohol: 14%