Canihan Family Cellars
2005 Exuberance Syrah
California: Sonoma Valley
What we say
LIBRARY RAID ALERT:
There is a very limited quantity of today’s wine, so please be sure to jump in, early. Bill Canihan gave us exclusive access to his private stash, but he only let us have a small allocation of his extraordinary Syrah. At today’s price, the wine will sell quickly.
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Mission Codename: The Ebullient
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Infiltrate Canihan Family Cellars and return with their delicious Sonoma Valley Syrah.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Canihan Family Cellars
Wine Subject: 2005 Exuberance Syrah
Winemaker: Alex Beloz
Our Operatives love a great Syrah, and they snap them up in record numbers, bucking the industry trends which suggest that Syrah sales are slightly declining. Our Operatives has proven that they are ahead of the curve in so many ways, especially when it comes to purchasing a great wine. Today, we visit our friends at Canihan Family Cellars to bring you their Exuberance Sonoma Valley Syrah, a delicious interpretation of the noble varietal.
The Sonoma Valley AVA is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California with the first vines being planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacama mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir. Grown on their tiny estate vineyard, today’s wine is a special treat.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep magenta hues, with a darker heart of dark ruby. Color is evenly concentrated, from center to edge. After swirling, tight clusters of skinny tears from high up on the glass, before streaking downward.
Smell – Fragrant and lush, with expressive black fruit and dried flowers. The wine leads with generous blackberry and blueberry, which gives way to smoked meats, boysenberry, bramble, soft tobacco, pepper, subtle brown spice and a soft hint of toasted oak.
Feel – Soft and round at the tip of the tongue. At the mid-palate, the wine just glides across. It takes on weight at the rear of the palate where supple tannins give the wine a softly chewy feel.
Taste – Pure black cherry at first taste. Then, tart dark blackberry, blueberry, black raspberry and plum follow. As the wine breathes, subtle spice, pepper, dried meat and bramble begin to emerge.
Finish – Dark fruit and earthy bramble are sustained well into the long finish. Flavors persist for a long time, with fruit giving way to soft spice and black pepper. At the tail end, a soft dryness spreads from the rear palate, forward, eventually drying the cheeks and puckering the lips.
Conclusion – This delicious 2005 Exuberance Sonoma Valley Syrah, is another fantastic Syrah from our friend, Bill Canihan. Elegant, flavorful, aromatic and delicious, this wine delights all the senses. We don’t showcase very many Syrah, because we are exceptionally picky about the ones that we choose. We were so impressed with subsequent vintages of this wine that when Bill opened up his archives to us, we went straight for today’s wine. We got our hands on every last bottle and, at today’s special price, this may be your only chance to purchase this special wine. Pair this food-friendly wine with a nice thick steak!
Busy with the 2011 Harvest, we were unable to secure our usual winemaker interview. Below is a recent interview conducted by Agent Red when we featured Canihan’s delicious Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Alex Beloz. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Canihan Family Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ALEX: Glad to share some info.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ALEX: Travels to Europe, specifically Italy, after university. Met some great families that taught me about wine appreciation. I got the wine bug right away. When I returned home I pursued a career in wine.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
ALEX: My first crush position. There’s nothing like getting the hands-on experience.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
ALEX: To make delicious, compelling wines from fruit grown under strong viticultural practices.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ALEX: I suppose it’s more a region, the North Coast, that has influenced me. It’s where I learned how to make wine and where I work on a daily basis.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
ALEX: About 12 years now!
RED: Who do you make wine for?
ALEX: For my clients. In the end I make delicious, compelling wines that my clients will enjoy. Ultimately its they who will sell the wine. If they like it and are proud of it, they will be successful.
RED: Tell me, what makes Bill’s vineyards so special?
ALEX: Bill’s wines are grown on a tiny vineyard in southern Sonoma. During the growing season it gets warm enough in the day to ripen fruit well and cool enough in the evenings to give the vine some respite. It’s a very ideal climate.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
ALEX: Consider and research it well. Get plenty of hands-on experience before committing to a full-on career in winemaking. There is a lot of romance that blinds folks into pursuing such a career not knowing that there is a lot of inglorious hard work and sacrifice in making wine.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ALEX: Lab work on the new vintage. Putting the new vintage to bed. And preparing for a busy spring and summer of vineyard monitoring and bottling.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ALEX: The 06 Canihan Family Pinot Noir. This wine has had an appropriate amount of time in bottle. It’s showing very well at this time. It’s bright and aromatic. It’s fruit driven on the palate with red cherry and raspberry notes. A nice hint of spice makes the wine compelling.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ALEX: A goat cheese appetizer and perhaps grilled salmon as a main course.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
ALEX: Wine is not my job. It’s my lifestyle.
RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
ALEX: No favorites. I like tasty, well balanced wines of all colors, varietals and regions…but it’s got to be good!
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
ALEX: Most of my wines are nice right out the bottle. They’re always better a year out from release. However, if one has little time or patience, as we all do sometimes, I recommend my wines to be uncorked a couple hours before tasting.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
ALEX: Corton-Charlemagne. Small production. Very pricey. Very good.
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
ALEX: Do you love what you do? I would respond: “I’m one of the luckiest guys on the planet!”
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
ALEX: You bet!
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Double Gold Medal – 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
About This Wine:
2004 was our inaugural Syrah vintage. The Canihan Family Syrah won a Double Gold Medal (Best Syrah), and was judged the Best Red Wine of Show in the 2007 San Francisco International Wine Competition (www.sfwinecomp.com). Exuberance describes our emotions upon learning that our Syrah was judged by 47 judges to be the best red wine from more than 4,300 wines. We feel that great wines originate in the vineyard, and that the cool climate of our Sonoma Valley organic vineyard results in an exceptionally elegant Syrah.
We believe the 2005 Exuberance Syrah is even better than the 2004 vintage. This wine recently won a Double Gold Medal in the 2008 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (www.WineJudging.com), the largest competition of American wines in the world. Back-to-back Double Gold medals have proven that our terroir, meticulous organic farming practices, and minimalist winemaking philosophy result in exceptional wines
VINEYARD NOTES: Located on the border of the Sonoma Valley and Los Carneros appellations, planted in 1998 with Clone 1 on SO4 and 101-14 rootstock, this 3.4-acre vineyard produces a cool-climate Syrah. Phil Coturri’s dry-farming, pruning techniques and organic vineyard management practices result in low yields of less than two tons per acre. The vineyard will be certified organic in September 2008.
TASTING NOTES: “Like its delicious 2004 sibling, this is an engaging and surprisingly elegant Syrah. It is bright and rich to the nose, offering blueberry, boysenberry, red raspberry and red rose aromas, with notes of bouillon, smoked meat and black and white peppercorn in support. It is already silky on the palate, with a generous mouth-feel and lots of blackberry, raspberry, bouillon, black tea, powdered sumac and peppercorn flavors that linger in a youthful, yet elegantly expressive mix. Lovely stuff already, it should be even better if given another twelve months in the cellar.” – Don Gillette, NVWE 11/01/077
About The Winery:
The Canihan Family vineyards are ideally located in the Sonoma Valley, and because we border on the Los Carneros Appellation, the vineyards receive the cool evening breezes and early morning fog from San Francisco Bay that provide for perfect grape growing conditions. Biodynamic vineyard management practices, dry-farming, and hand-harvesting only at complete ripeness, fermentation with naturally occurring native yeast, and no fining or filtering result in flavorful wines expressive of our “terroir”.
Although our vineyards were first planted in 1998, we had nurtured the land for more than 30 years. William Canihan Sr. purchased the land from a Basque farmer in 1975. Because of our commitment to the land and organic practices, we let nature cleanse the soil for 23 years. We planted 1103 Paulsen, SO4, and 101-14 rootstocks, and the following spring we field grafted Pinot Noir French Dijon clones 115, 667 and 777, Syrah clone 1, and Cabernet Franc clones 4 and 7.
This year, our new four-acre Pinot Noir vineyard will yield fruit from clones including Pommard, Wadenswil (Domaine Romanee–Conti) 2a, Masson, Joseph Swan, and Hanzell.
Our vineyard manager, Phil Coturri is also currently managing the vineyards of Hanzell, Merus, Moon Mountain and Arrowood wineries. Mr. Coturri has an excellent reputation for his organic and biodynamic practices which are best judged by their results.
Varietals: 100% Estate Grown
Harvested: October 17, 2005
Aged: 14 months in 100% French Oak
Total Acid: 0.68/100ml
Bottled: January 24, 2007
Production: 230 Cases