Canihan Family Cellars
2006 Exuberance Syrah
California: Sonoma Valley
What we say
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Mission Codename: Unrestrained Enthusiasm
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Infiltrate Canihan Family Cellars and return with their delicious Sonoma Valley Syrah.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Canihan Family Cellars
Wine Subject: 2006 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 – Dense and dark purple with a barely clear core that let’s just a little light shine through with garnet reflections. Along the edges the color remains dense with garnet and violet hues. When swirled, slow thin legs hang for a few seconds before descending to the wine below.
Smell – Fresh and ripe blue and black fruit leads the way with sweet boysenberry. A healthy dose of black peppercorn along with other savory spices meld with smokey notes and hints of floral violets and cured meats.
Feel – Expansive and plush, this dry full-bodied wine spreads across the palate with velvety tannins and easy but balanced acidity. Elegant, warm and soft in its feel and not quite chewy, but close.
Taste – Generous jammy black and blue fruit with boysenberry, blackberry and raspberry with a touch of savory cured meat and subtle smokey oak notes. Savory spice, pepper linger and hints of earthiness linger into the finish.
Finish – Quite long with the fruit gracefully fading leaving hints of savory spice and this wine’s silky tannins behind.
Conclusion – The 2006 Canihan Family Cellars Exuberance Sonoma Valley Syrah is a delicious Syrah that is immensely approachable with its ripe and plush fruit balanced over its spice and other complex flavors. Very well developed and integrated, a perfect new-world interpretation that will please anyone who loves fruit forward wines. Enjoy this wine now or cellar for a few years. Pair this lovely wine with spicy sausages or savory grilled red meat.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Alex Beloz. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Canihan Family Exuberance Syrag 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 2006 Exuberance Syrah was crafted with fruit from the estate vineyard. The cool growing conditions of 2006 lend a “cool-climate” character to this wine; plenty of fruit with a nice backbone of acidity and spice notes. The wine was aged for 18 months in French barrels where the wine gained mid-palate texture and maturity.
This wine is a classically styled Syrah. It has a lovely deep red hue with purple notes. It is aromatic and inviting with notes of black cherry and spice. On the palate it is supple and full of fruit flavors like candied cherries and blackberries. The fruit flavors are complimented with hints of vanilla, camphor and cinnamon.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ALEX: My favorite pairing of this Syrah is with rich, braised dishes including those made with lamb or beef. The wine is rich enough to stand up to those flavorful dishes but has enough refreshing acidity that cleanses the palate.
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:
Gold Medal – 2009 SF Chronicle Wine Competition
About This Wine:
“Like its delicious 2004 and 2005 siblings, this is an engaging and 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, and peppercorn flavors that linger in a youthful, yet elegantly expressive mix.” Don Gillette, NVWE.
2004 was our inaugural vintage. Our 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 2006 Exuberance Syrah is even better than the 2004 and 2005 vintages, as we recently won a Gold Medal in the 2009 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 biodynamic vineyard management practices result in low yields of less than 1.5 tons per acre. The vineyard is certified organic by CCOF.
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
Certified Organic Vineyard
Harvested: October 24, 2006
Sugar at harvest: 26.1 Brix
Aged: 14 months in 100% French Oak
Total Acid: 0.78g/100ml
Bottled: February 13, 2008
Production: 370 Cases