We started working with Syrah grapes from Fenaughty Vineyard in 1988, when there were only a couple of rows of the variety there, in a low spot on the property, shaded from the warmest part of the afternoon sun by tall pines to the south and west of those rows. The grapes ripened very slowly and quite late because of that shade, and made delicate, beautifully perfumed wine that was reminiscent, aromatically of some lighter offerings from Cote Rotie.
Newer blocks were planted in the early ‘90s, on more even, better-exposed ground, and the fruit from those plantings ripens somewhat sooner, and gives a different expression that still provides a lot of aromatic complexity, and some pretty high-notes, most especially that of violets.
For years we blended the wine from these blocks with wine from another vineyard, near Georgetown, and it was only in the 2011 vintage that we began to bottle the wine unblended. The character is quite distinctive, and, not surprisingly, the 2012 smells and tastes quite a bit like the ’11. There’s a bit more intensity, it’s a little darker, and it ultimately may be a wine of greater depth.
FRUIT SOURCE: Fenaughty Vineyard is situated at roughly 2800 feet elevation, on Carson Ridge, in the area above Placerville known as Apple Hill. The soil at Fenaughty is Aiken loam, rocky ground of volcanic origin. 2012 was the 27th year we’ve gotten fruit from Fenaughty.
WINEMAKING NOTES: Picking took place on Monday the 24th of September, at roughly 24 Brix. The fruit was de-stemmed into half-ton bins, with about 15-20% whole clusters included. As the wine began to ferment the cap was punched down by hand twice daily. Pressed at dryness, into eleven year old french barrels, in which, a few weeks later, malolactic fermentation completed spontaneously. The wine was removed to stainless in early March, where it rested until late Spring, when it was bottled.
WINEMAKER’S TASTING NOTES: Quite dark purply-red. Deep nose showing violet notes, and smoke, a bit of blackberry-leaf. Medium-to-full body on the palate, with engaging texture, and good freshness. Flavors nicely balanced, and lengthy, but only showing a bit of what seems to be there, beneath a beautiful but very firm structure. Much to like, and good reason to wait for development in the cellar, for a few years.
TOTAL PRODUCTION: Roughly 225 cases.
RELEASE DATE: May 21st, 2014
Steve Edmunds, winemaker