Bright thin ruby with wide pink edges. Gritty, grainy, mineral-ridden bright fruity nose, high on life, not bogged down with concentration or syrupy mediocrity. Easily one of the most-No. Rhone things I have smelled this year. SHOCKING, this one. You should have seen my face and heard me when I first jammed my nose into it. “This is either the most ridiculously flawed home-wine ever or the best low-alcohol cool-climate Syrah I have had from California yet.” There is an amateur freshness and vegetal greenness which precipitated the former impression, and a thin, light, fruit-forward chalky brilliance which immediately had me thumbing mentally through all of the recent Sonoma Coast Syrahs I have tasted. Pungently funky at first, it quickly blows out to just pure ripe fresh young fruit tinged in and almost-cider-like beer-effervescence and raw life.
It turns out I was wrong. Not only did I guess the alcohol a full point below label, according to the winery, it is from Chalk Hill, which–although the label says Russian River Valley–is considerably warmer than the rest of the valley. This is why you need to let the wine speak for itself before making any judgements based on label. Speaking of label… it is well-documented my aversion to SPORTS and PETS on wine labels, but see? I managed to overlook this one and see the beauty in the bottle. All that counts is what’s in the bottle. I don’t want to see the bottle or the packaging or the tasting room or anything–just pour the wine and I will consider it.
In the mouth, easy fruit–thin and deep at once, cherry and rose hips and suckers and sprite–rises up, still tinged with that cellar funk so charming and beautiful as it accompanies the sweet fruit over the palate. More green bitterness pauses middle, and alcohol curls the edges a tad. Raw gunpowder fireworks over a strawberry-festival base. Deep wet-wool, with all the lanolin involved–jammed into pencil-box. THE most European Syrah I have tasted in recent memory. Blind, I am scared to admit what direction I would go. I might not even go Syrah! I think I might head Chinon or even Morgon. There’s just so few wines like this being made in California right now. Just stupidly beautiful and brilliant.
A BEAUTIFUL wine. Not for everyone. If you drink ANYTHING from Paso Robles or Santa Barbara, Napa or Sonoma, you are going to HATE this wine. Unless you prefer Broc and Habit and Rorick and Pax and Martian and Muni and and and and… you know who you are–you are going to hate this wine. But you small group (large portions of MY following, thank Dog) who dig Syrah in the manner I have attempted to describe above: Find this wine. Ignore the baseball on the label and find this wine. 4 barrels though… so…. yeah… good luck with that.
2015 BAKER FAMILY WINES Syrah Russian River Valley Sonoma County 14.5