2006 F Block Syrah
Syrah •Rodney's Vineyard
Santa Barbara County
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Respect
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Revisit our good friends at Epiphany Cellars to retrieve their legendary F Block Syrah
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Epiphany Cellars
Wine Subject: 2006 Epiphany F Block Rodney’s Vineyard Syrah
Winemaker: Blair Fox
France’s Rhone Valley stretches from Vienne in the north down to the Arles in the south may be best known for its intricate blends of red varietals as demonstrated by its legendary Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but the white varietals of this region are not to be underestimated. It is in the spirit of these unique Terrior driven varietals that inspires today’s selection. Syrah, a native to the Rhone Valley find an excellent home in California’s Santa Ynez Valley just north of Santa Barbara.
The Santa Ynez Valley, in Santa Barbara county is influenced but not dominated by the proximity to the Pacific Ocean. A little elevation and well drained soil makes for an ideal environment for viticulture as demonstrated by the range of great wines from the region.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dense and dark purple hues, intense and murky, right through its solid core. There is some nice staining left on the glass once the thin tears have made their way down the glass.
Smell – The nose packs quite a delightful punch! There are big luscious aromas of blueberry, blackberry and spice. There is also a faint aroma of smoke on the back end.
Feel – Big and bold, this wine has fine, integrated, and solid tannins. There is a great velvet structure that binds it together beautifully.
Taste – Generous fruity and lip-smacking flavors that were gotten in the nose are recreated on the palette. Concentrated blueberry and blackberry flavors with wonderful spice and vanilla integrated into the structure.
Finish – Even though this is such a bold wine, the finish was clean and long. The taste of the fruit lingers after each sip – but doesn’t leave too much residual weight on the palette.
Conclusion – The 2006 Epiphany F Block Syrah the is a great wine for the bold of heart! It is big and rich in style and fruit – perfect for someone who is looking for a more fruit forward style with a little bit of spice woven in. This is a great steak wine this is ready to drink, now.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Blair Fox
DATE OF BIRTH: 10/74
PLACE OF BIRTH: Santa Barbara, CA
WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Oenologist for Fess Parker Winery ’99, Winemaker Sunstone Winery 99-02, Consultant winemaker fess Parker Winery 02, Vintage Winemaker- Haselgrove Winery- McLaren Vale South Australia 03, Associate Winemaker in charge of the Rhone Varietal programs at Fess Parker 03-05, Head Winemaker for Fess Parker Winery 05-present
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: I spend a lot of time in the vineyard because I feel that wines are truly made in the vineyard. I try to show the different qualities of the different vineyards and create wines with distinct varietal character.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: I have always been particularly fond of Syrah.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Traveling throughout the Rhone Valley in France and tasting some of the best examples of Syrah and other Rhone varietals the world has to offer.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: I feel privileged to work with some of the best vineyards and fruit in Santa Barbara County.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Blair. We are thrilled to be working with you again. This time around, we are showing your Inspiration. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BLAIR: Thank you for showing my wine today.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WINEMAKER: My parents were always traveling the globe and bringing home wines to be drunk around the dinner table. I was planning on going to medical school to become a doctor but was lured into the Viticulture and Oenology program at UC Davis.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
BLAIR: I really enjoyed the viticulture side of the program, but then fell in love with the oenology courses and being able to see the conversion of grapes to a final wine.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
BLAIR: I feel the best wines are made in the vineyard. You have to be diligent with your vineyard practices to grow grapes worthy of making great wine. It is all about fruit quality, canopy management and managing your yields to produce the most exciting wines possible.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BLAIR: I am impressed by all great wines made around the world. I have gained experience making wines in two different hemispheres and like a sponge have absorbed as much knowledge from every winemaker I have ever worked with.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
BLAIR: This is my 13th vintage.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
BLAIR: I make wines to be enjoyed by all. At Fess Parker Winery we have various levels of wine from less expensive to quite expensive. I feel the consumer gets a very good value for the quality of our wines across the board.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Santa Barbara region so special?
BLAIR: Santa Barbara is a very unique region. We have very cool areas such as the Santa Rita Hills, which is the ultimate place to grow high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and we have the more interior Santa Ynez Valley where some of the most exciting Rhone varietals in the world are grown.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
BLAIR: I am very casual about my approach to wine. I feel wines are best drunk with food, but are also great as an aperitif or after dinner. I feel you should drink what you enjoy regardless of price or region. It is fun to be adventurous with wine and see what else is out there.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
BLAIR: I love Syrah and would choose something like an old Grange from Penfolds or Cote Rotie from the Northern Rhone.
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!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Epiphany Cellars in Solvang can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
91+ Points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
About This Wine:
In a nutshell, the Syrah produced from Block F on this venerable old ranch always delivers big, bold, structured wines. If you are looking for something light and fruity, this is not for you. But, if you like very concentrated blackberry and blueberry jam, with notes of earth, BBQ, spice and toasty oak, jump all over this one!
The vineyard continues to build its reputation as one of the best sources of Syrah in the state, and F Block is analogous to the prime “filet mignon” of the ranch. By the way, seared filet mignon would also be a perfect pair for this Syrah!
About The Winery:
When Fess Parker was cast in the roll of Davy Crockett in the mid-1950’s, it caused an international sensation and changed his life forever. So too did the purchase of 714 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley change the course of the Parker family’s history.
Realizing the potential of Santa Barbara County as a premium grape-growing region, Fess and his son, Eli, originally set out in 1989 to plant a small vineyard and sell fruit to local producers. But, as Fess’ daughter, Ashley explains, “ Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small. “The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard now farms almost 700 acres on four vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County.
The characters Fess portrayed, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, inspired generations of Americans. Throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s Fess was at the pinnacle of a television career that has an unprecedented impact upon American popular culture. But is was Fess’ entrepreneurial spirit that prompted his leaving Hollywood to go into business for himself. The traits that Crockett and Boone embodied – integrity, resourcefulness and good humor — carried over to Fess’ personal life and formed the foundation upon which the family business was built. First-class hospitality has always been at the core of their ventures, first as hoteliers and eventually with the opening of the winery.
Working as a family has always been a great source of pride and pleasure for the Parker family. Eli Parker began in the family business as assistant winemaker in 1989. After several years of learning the craft at the side of renowned and accomplished winemakers, Eli took the reigns as winemaker himself with the 1995 vintage. A leader of the winery since it’s inception, it was in 1996 that Eli formally assumed the title and responsibilities of President. In the early 1990’s, Ashley ran the first tastings out of the barrel room and represented the winery at trade shows. In 1998, Ashley became Eli’s partner, working on the public relations and sales and marketing teams. The presence of Fess and his wife Marcy as the founding visionaries of the winery is a vital and enduring one.
About The Winemaker:
BLAIR FOX – Head Winemaker – Graduating from UC Davis in 1999 with a combined degree in Viticulture and Enology, Blair Fox gained winemaking experience at Sunstone Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley (1999-2001), and at Haselgrove Winery – a custom-crush winery in McLaren Vale, Australia (2003).
He also traveled through France’s Rhône Valley before returning to his hometown of Santa Barbara. He then joined Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard as Associate Winemaker, overseeing the Rhône varietal wines. Fox had previously consulted in the vineyard for the winery’s 2002 harvest.
“Having focused on the winery’s estate Syrah and Rhône varietal vineyards, I’m excited to add on the responsibility for Ashley’s and Bien Nacido vineyards and control the Burgundian part of our portfolio (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay),” said Fox. “The vineyards and clonal selection here are of such high quality, and the Parkers are a great family to work for.”
Fox continues the stylistic direction set by Eli Parker when capturing the terroir of the vineyards. He aims to continue raising the bar for the award-winning Fess Parker wines, such as the 2001 Rodney’s Vineyard Syrah (91pts, Wine Advocate), 2002 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir (93pts, Wine Spectator), and 2001 American Tradition Reserve Syrah, (92pts, Wine Advocate).