2012 Syrah (Double L Vineyard – Santa Lucia Highlands) by Morgan Winery, Salinas CA

Tonight’s Occasion: 2012 Syrah (Double L Vineyard – Santa Lucia Highlands) by Morgan Winery, Salinas CA

Deep dark intense semi-opaque color. It appears clear and free of suspension. Out of the bottle nose is a little restrained for a syrah but very much present. Up front ripe dark plums, blackberries, dark cherries over a backdrop of old dusty, woody leather. Hints of black licorice punctuate the nose. Fruit and earth go hand in hand here. A deep, dark, brooding syrah.

Body is balanced from front to back. Bone dry. Thin plum skins carry over to greet the palate . Tannins are crisp, fairly restrained and fully integrated into the body. Slightly under-ripe blueberries. Barely noticeable acidity provides a gentle tension across the palate. Towards the back a gentle spice warmth slowly takes over the transition to finish, along with thin black currants. With each sip, a gentle grip builds upon the lips one delicate layer at a time. As it breathes, old barnyard woody leather and licorice intensify.

Following the nose I expected a massive beast of a Syrah however this is the complete opposite. Body is very delicate and gentle on the palate. There is a certain classic, understated simplicity to its expression and execution. This should make for a great benchmark Syrah in any cellar/collection. It is now that I have to remind myself that this is Santa Lucia Highlands and what a difference this climate/terroir makes with this otherwise massive varietal. This winemaker has done a great job of shepherding these grapes and chanelling everything that is great about this vineyard, and region at large.

Tech Sheet

2012 Double L Syrah by Morgan Winery

From Winemaker: 2012 Double L Syrah Tech Sheet.pdf
Terroir: Vineyard: Double L
Appelation: Santa Lucia Highlands
Soils: Arroyo Seco & Chualar Loam
Climate: very cool, Region 1 (UCD)
Composition: Rootstock: 110-14, 420a
Clones: 383 & 470
Aging: 1 3 months in 100% Bordeaux barrels
Analysis: Alcohol: 14.4%
Acidity: 6.7 G/L
PH: 3.54
Total Production: Approximately 75 cases
I would also like to say a Special Thank You to the Morgan Winery family and crew for digging into their limited library and making this limited production and beautifully crafted wine available. It’s truly a pleasure and honor to explore your life’s work.

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2012 Rhapsody by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma

Tonight’s Occasion: 2012 Rhapsody by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma

Grenache (42%) Carignane (38%) Mourvedre (20%) Santa Ynez Valley.

Subtle red cherry, blackberry, subtle raspberries, hint of cocoa, subtle moist earthy wood, mushroom so faint you’d likely miss it. The bouquet is definitely floral in expression. As it breathes, cherries intensify, along with red vines licorice and touch of cedarwood. Red cherry turns to ripe dark cherries.

Body is balanced from front to back. Bright sweet cherries, raspberries are further enhanced by crisp refined caramel reminiscent of neutral French oak. A slightly viscous mouth feel. A touch of sweet citrus develops towards the back reminiscent of Meyer lemon with a drop of honey. By this point the body dissipates completely leaving the palate and lips slightly moist.

I have been following this vintners collection for well over a decade. I think of their tasting room as a library. Always and exercise in wine education. While I mostly obsess over their age worthy Pinot Noirs, it’s always nice to indulge in his vision with other varietals. I highly recommend stopping by our 2020 Winemaker of the Year next time you’re in Sonoma. You won’t be disappointed.

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2012 Napa Cab (Atlas Peak) by Gustavo Wine

Tonight’s Occasion: 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Atlas Peak) by Gustavo Wine (@gustavowine), Napa Valley, CA

Dark semi opaque color. Out of the bottle, intense dry plums. As it breathes, it develops a fine, dusty, sandy leather essence, almost granite in nature. Hints of berries pop in and out of the back, eventually turning to dark, slightly sweet cherries. Notes of herbs and eucalyptus emerge. It’s a bit rustic. I feel like the nose will continue to evolve for hours if left alone. Very nice.

Oh wow. Okay! So the body is unexpectedly smooth. Balanced, front to back. There is little to no attack. Fairly light for a Napa Cab. It leans more on the delicate side. It is dry. Plums carry over with a measured amount of tannins quickly arriving at a harmonious compromise. A soft old wood, leathery mushroom essence tempers the stage, adds a little weight as the body slowly develops. Plums ripen slightly and tannins develop a dusty, fine grained texture. This marks the transition to finish as the palate slowly begins to dry, leaving behind gentle but firm tannic grip, leather and a touch of warmth.

I love the story behind this winemaker and even more that he continues to make wine. His generation were the ones who’s craft put Napa on world stage. These are the kind of winemakers I seek out, off the beaten path.

Bien hecho Gustavo! I had a blast visiting the tasting room!

I’m reminiscing about my last visit to their tasting room downtown Napa at the beginning of last year with my friend (2020, right before the pandemic hit). We had a blast tasting and handing out with Gustavo’s wife at their understated tasting room. I highly recommend a visit whenever you’re in Napa.

2012 Petite Syrah by Loxton Cellars

Tonight’s occasion: 2012 Petite Syrah by Loxton Cellars, Sonoma, California

Dark opaque color. Nose is a little shy out of the bottle but quickly comes alive with ripe plum, blackberry, caramel and that all too familiar Sonoma Dirt. A wet mushroom leathery essence. It’s a bit subdued here but still very present. Swirl vigorously to release a burst of dark cherry, anise and hints of green peppers.

A viscous, spicy, slightly acidic attack greets the palate. This rapidly subsides as crisp, clean tannins move in front and center. Hints of oak vanilla soften the blow, temporarily wetting the palate. By the halfway point, the fun and games are over as a dry crisp tannic grip, black currant and cola completely dominate the experience. This marks the transition to a finish, turning even dryer. The palate experiences a brief sweet relief as black currant and cola give way to a long spicy dry finish.

My goodness this is a massive wine yet surprisingly nuanced. It feels very natural, terroir driven and unaltered. I thought it might be a good time to open 2012 vintage but dare I say, it’s still early. Chris Loxton has been quietly and meticulously crafting his life’s work from the vines to the wines. One of my favorite Sonoma winemakers, I’ve been enjoying his wines for at least a decade. Every time I open a bottle, I wonder if I bought enough…

Nicely done Chris Loxton! Cheers Mate!