This bruiser casts aromas of black cherry and blueberry above a bouquet of cedar, cigar smoke, leather and Umami. It is smooth, silky, rich and vibrant on the palate with ripe cherry and dried cranberry up front followed by currants, boysenberry and more cherry in the middle. All are supported by welldeveloped, mouth-coating tannins while finishing long and clean with brambleberry, toasted oak, vanilla and sage. Age for 3–5 years.
This New World blend is composed of four distinct varietal components: syrah provides complexity and brightness; merlot contributes warm aromas, bright fruit, and a plush mid-mouth; cabernet franc adds structure, aromatics and spice; and petite sirah imparts gamey, brooding and black-fruit qualities.
Sextant Vineyard (syrah) and Larinetta Vineyard (merlot) are positioned on hills and terraces in the El Pomar district of Eastside Paso Robles. Heavy clay soils containing limestone and shale help channel photosynthesis into full grape development without excessive vine growth.
Lewis Vineyard (cabernet franc) is tucked into the Clements Hills AVA near Lodi on the banks of the Mokelumne River. Rocky soils, a dry growing season, warmto-hot days, and cool evenings join forces to produce rounded tannins, full flavors and bright acidity.
Solana Vineyards (petite sirah) stand above the fog line in the San Miguel district of northern Paso Robles. Soils consisting of limestone and decomposed sandstone work in tandem with persistent breezes to limit vine growth and produce small concentrated berries.
About 70% of this wine originated in 2008, a growing season marked by heavy rain in January and February, considerable morning frost in March, and hot dry gusts in May and June that triggered some 1,400 wild fires in California. Harvest was delayed 7–10 days due to the erratic weather and smoky haze, but the high skin-to-juice ratios of the small crop intensified the flavor of well-structure wines.
In counterpoint to the “sturdiness” of Vintage 2008, the wines from 2007 were very flashy. It was the first of three consecutive drought years, and buds pushed early. Temperatures were consistently warm and dry during spring and summer aside from a few heat spikes. The long sunny days, absence of rain, and cool September delayed harvest by one week. The extra time on the vines allowed grapes to develop full aromas and flavors that resulted in complex wines.