Ballard for 15, please

Black black black black–I didn’t even pour in the light and the first splash was obviously a blacker shade of purple than the usual suspects. Completely impenetrable even in the shallowest pours, lined with a thin stripe of blue-ish pink. Really closed in–and this has been a frequent complaint of mine with heavily-extracted and hi-proof Syrahs. Decanted hard in an attempt to flush up the nose beyond banana, wax paper and alcohol. Slowly, it takes baby-steps toward fruit, with big wilted lily and greasy burn parting *just enough* to allow a little watermelon-vodka punch to peek through.

In the mouth–as is ALWAYS the case with these wines–it fares much better. Intense stand-a-fork-up-in-it concentration brings a positively CHEWY fruit-preserve smoothie onto your tongue. So much incredible berry–bruised and candied, black as night–the shortcomings in the bouquet are quickly redeemed. Clean and direct, powdery oak tannins drive the whole thing through the finish with considerable heat.

If you are drawn toward the usual suspects of blingy, hi-density Syrah from Paso and Ballard Canyon, this wine is definitely something you should seek out. It is extremely limited and hits on areas of fruit and straight-forwardness many others in this genre (I’m going to guess 15-5) fall well short of. It’s a big BIG wine.

2016 SIDEKICK Syrah Ballard Canyon Santa Ynez Valley Santa Barbara Co. 15.6

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