Longtime readers know Fossil gets its name from its historic blend. French winemakers used to blend Syrah into their Bordeaux blends in the early 1800s until the French government outlawed it. We’ve resurrected this winemaking Fossil to make a Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend for today’s dinner table.
The Cabernet Sauvignon used in this blend is from Block 1 of the Scharf Family Vineyard, towards the north end of West Dry Creek Rd. The Syrah is farmed above Chemise Rd. at Peña Creek Vineyard, between 860-1050’ elevation. The Merlot is farmed on Walling Rd., on a largely south-facing hillside vineyard with a mix of exposures, steep rows, and some terracing. We’ve been working with two of these vineyards since the ‘90s and the third for a decade; we’re awfully fond of them.
Our Bordeaux techniques are focused on building age-worthy, elegant wines that are driven by complex grape tannin structure and low pH/high acidity. With Syrah, we’re focused on building wines underpinned by old-world chemistry, but with a brash, rustic New World character. We focus on high tannin extraction and building complexity through the opportunities provided with open-top, multiple container fermentation. We want our Syrah to feel dense and complex without being overly tannic, so we focus on more physical work on the fruit and less total skin contact time. Overall, Syrah is a grape that we see as a counterpart to Cabernet Sauvignon in terms of aging and quality potential, and when the two are combined with Merlot, akin to the “Hermitaged” Bordeauxs of winemaking’s history, it’s kind of like peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. All three of those things are great by themselves… but they were destined to be together.
This Sonoma County “CSM” blend is a T. Rex of a wine, delivering a one-two punch of Syrah and Merlot fruit flavors up front with an earthy Cabernet finish that lingers longer than the dinosaurs did. The nose has hints of peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream, and the palate follows up with spicy, smoky intensity.