Big Basin Rattlesnake Rock Syrah 2016
2016 was a beautiful vintage - good yields, a moderate growing season and decent weather through harvest - that allowed Big Basin to nail the pick dates perfectly and make wines with minimal intervention. This year only the Côte Rötie field selection lots were used in the blend. As the vines in the Rattlesnake Rock block get older, they seem to be producing darker and more brooding expressions of Syrah. They aged this wine exclusively in used 300 liter hogs heads French oak barrels. They are finding that they prefer little to no new oak with Syrah so that the purity of fruit is most emphatically expressed. They also upped the percentage of whole clusters used in the fermentations which lifts the aromatic profile while adding some structure to the wine.
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Located in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Big Basin Vineyards is terraced into a steep hillside first planted to grape vines by French immigrants over 100 years ago. Their winery and the vineyards they work with are located at sites in the Santa Cruz and Gabilan Mountains that are as beautiful as they are exceptional for grape growing. They farm organically and practice minimal-intervention winemaking with the goal of producing wines that transparently and authentically express site and variety.
Big Basin believes that their choice of vineyards, picking at the right time to retain intensity and elegance, and minimalistic winemaking practices are the keys to producing more aromatic and ethereal wines - new world wines with old world soul. Owner and winemaker Bradley Brown has been on a 20 year quest to produce beautiful and soulful wines. Winemaker Blake Yarger joined the team in 2017 and together they are always fine tuning practices to more transparently express the vineyards.
A rugged and topographically diverse cool-climate appellation with a rich history, the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA stretches from Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco, to the northern border of Monterey County. Elevations range from 800 feet to upwards of 3,000 and microclimates vary substantially depending on which side of the mountains the vineyards lie; cool ocean winds and fog play an important role here. This can be a challenging region in which to grow grapes, but it is well worth the effort. Santa Cruz Mountains wines are noted for balanced acidity levels, often showing great aging potential. Wine has been made here since the 1800s, most notably from the legendary Ridge Vineyards, whose Monte Bello vineyard garners international admiration.
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the stars of this region, while Merlot and Zinfandel also perform quite well. Organic and sustainable vineyard practices are becoming increasingly common.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”