Lynmar Estate Winery
2006 Sonoma Coast Syrah
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Rhone, West
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Revisit our friends at Lynmar Estate Winery and acquire their delicious Sonoma Coast Syrah
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Lynmar Estate Winery
Wine Subject: 2006 Syrah Sonoma Coast
Winemaker: Hugh Chappelle
Winery Backgrounder: The popularity of Syrah is undeniable. Big and bold in flavor and texture, it packs a concentrated punch of flavor that many people love. This Rhone varietal, although many believe that the grape originated in the Persia region, is 100% French in lineage. The Syrah grape is directly descendant from the Monduese Blanche and Dureza varietals and is grown worldwide with great success. Today’s delightful Syrah is a bold and balanced delight with deep flavors, dark aromatics and a voluptuous mouth feel
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Gorgeous and concentrated red plum hues, with an opaque core and clear cherry-red edges. Medium-width, wine-stained legs crawl down the glass after swirling.
Smell – Bold and authentic aromas off blackberry, black cherry, black currant, truffle and dried meats. These sit atop bramble, earthen plum and black pepper.
Feel – Cool and light across the entry, then soft across the mid-palate. Gradually, a mouth-filling dryness spreads inward from the edges, eventually drying the entire mouth.
Taste – Bold, but balanced and delicious, with flavors of blackberry, black plum, smoky black cherry, earthen truffle, bramble and soft black pepper.
Finish – Flavors last forever, with fruit that goes on and on. The spreading dryness carries flavors all the way through until to the end, where a soft pepper dryness persists – until your next luxurious sip.
Conclusion – Delicious, bold and beautifully flavorful, this is a perfect example of California Syrah. We first tasted this wine a year ago. We loved it then, and we were so thrilled to find that the wine has become even better in that time – that we had to offer it to you today. With real-fruit aromatics, bold and balanced flavors and an intriguing mouthfeel, this wine is a delight from sip through its ultra-long finish. Decant for at least 30 minutes for even better results. Pair this food-friendly wine with nearly anything. We enjoyed our bottle with fruit and smoked cheeses. If you love great Syrah, from the Rhone or from California, this wine will delight your senses!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER_
SUBJECT: Hugh Chappelle
DATE OF BIRTH: June, 1962
PLACE OF BIRTH: Mountain View, CA
WINE EDUCATION: UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Chalk Hill, Madrona Vineyards, Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Lynmar Estate
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Balance and Expression of Site
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Pinot Noir
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Having the opportunity to re-plant Lynmar’s Quail Hill Vineyard with an ideal mix of clones as well as having a hand in the design and outfitting of our new gravity flow winery.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: I am proud to continue the Lynmar tradition of impeccably balanced wines that enhance food, age gracefully, and exhibit uncommon grace and elegance.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Hugh. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Sonoma Coast Syrah. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
HUGH: It is my pleasure.
AGENT RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
HUGH: It is a unique Syrah produced from our cool-climate vineyards located in the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. We are inspired by the great wines of the Northern Rhone and aim to express, as much as possible, the more floral and spicy side of the varietal, within the context of the highly diverse terroirs this region has to offer.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
HUGH: Pasta with Bolognese Sauce, BBQ Tri-tip, Sonoma cheeses!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
HUGH: Yes, first growing up in a household where wine was part of daily life. My mother is from the Mosel in Germany and there was always a bottle of Riesling in the refrigerator. Second, was answering a “Help Wanted” ad in Student Employment while at UC Santa Cruz and ending up at a small micro-winery up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. As chemistry major at the time I thought it very cool to apply my science background in such a creative way. That first exposure catalyzed my later career change from Biotech to winemaking.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
HUGH: Even though I went through graduate studies at UC Davis and have nothing but the highest respect for their program, the bottom line is that I learned the most about winemaking while on the job.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
HUGH: If it could be summed up in word it would be “Balance”. I also place a huge importance on doing as much work in the vineyard as possible so that the winemaking is as natural and straightforward as possible. Balanced wines can be either big and bold, or light and delicate, but they both share the quality of everything being in just the right proportions.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
HUGH: Outside of studying, and drinking, the great classic wines of the world, I would say my short time at Chalk Hill Winery when Dave Ramey was winemaker was a very formative experience. While I went there to gain experience with native/wild yeast fermentations, Dave’s methodical approach to every detail of winemaking, willingness to take risks, and emphasis on wine texture continue to impact my winemaking today.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
HUGH: Full time since 1989, part-time from 1982-1986.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: Obviously, being employed by another winery requires that, at times, I put personal preferences aside and respect house styles, market realities, and other practical aspects of making wine for a living…..and a profit. However, I have been lucky to be at wineries where the owners/proprietors give a fairly free hand to their winemaker. I have always been honored by that trust and responsibility and never take it for granted.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Sonoma Coast so special?
HUGH: The climate is milder than many regions growing this grape variety in California. The style produced embodies our vision of this noble grape from some of the coolest, most challenging sites in the area.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
HUGH: Get practical experience from wineries making the kinds of wines you like, or work at several different kinds of wineries of different sizes making different varieties to see what really resonates with you. While formal schooling is great, and arguably opens more doors, especially at larger wineries, the quality of your work experience is the most important thing for wineries like Lynmar or Flowers.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
HUGH: Finalizing the 2009 vintage blends! Amazing wines. Can’t wait until they are released.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
HUGH: While you can eat off the floor of our cellar because we keep everything so clean, my office is a bit….”cluttered”. This is a bit of company joke, but what can I say?
RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
HUGH: For everyday reds I tend to drink Italian. Barbera’s, Dolcetto’s, and Chianti Classico’s simply cannot be beat for the quality to price ratio…..and they go superbly with a wide range of foods…..especially the Italian foods my girlfriend tends to like to cook. For white I gravitate to Chablis, crisp steely Macon’s, Sancerre, and….of course Riesling.
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
HUGH: Trust your own taste! I continue to be amazed that people simply don’t drink what they like and often need confirmation of what they should be drinking. I think it remains a legitimate challenge for our industry to continue demystifying wine without taking away what makes it so special.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
HUGH: A great Musigny or Chambolle Musigny from a top domaine in a great vintage….of course out of magnum!
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
HUGH: Question: So it sounds like your girlfriend’s a cook? Answer: We have to leave something as a mystery.
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!
HUGH: Thanks a lot. Take care!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the gorgeous Lynmar Estate Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This beautiful wine is deep purple, with a pronounced violet rim, and clearly youthful. The lovely and complex nose of ash, bramble fruit, meat, and pepper evolves in the glass, but is concentrated and appealing from the start. The palate is highlighted by flavors of blackberry, plum, alongside more subtle smoky notes. The cedar-spice French oak is beautifully balanced by the red and dark fruit, good acidity, and fine-grained tannins. The finish is long and intense, and enjoyable now if you “like ‘em young”, but clearly reinforces the aromas and flavors with the potential to develop and improve over the next several years. This is a “real” wine that will complement many foods well yet will still be enjoyable on its own. Drink now and stock up if you like it as it should keep for up to 7-8 years, or through 2015-2016.
Philosophy: Our Sonoma Coast Syrah embodies our vision of this noble grape from some of the coolest, most challenging sites in the area. We are inspired by the great wines of the Northern Rhone and aim to express, as much as possible, the more floral and spicy side of the varietal, within the context of the highly diverse terroirs this region has to offer.
2006 Growing Season: The 2006 growing season was particularly challenging in the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations. Higher humidity during the summer months resulted in greater mildew pressure across both appellations, exacerbated by weather during harvest that provided perfect growing conditions for botrytis ("noble rot”) and other late season molds. Luckily Syrah is a relatively thick skinned variety with a very open cluster that allows the berries to dry out quickly after rains or the typical foggy morning. However, numerous, and costly, extra “thinning passes” were still the norm in most locations this year to ensure the area around the grape clusters had good air flow and that crop loads were properly balanced. The bottom line for Lynmar is that we came through a challenging harvest with excellent quality potential. Primary characteristics of the wines from 2006, in general, will be lower than average alcohols and bright natural acidity. This is a vintage that will play very well to Lynmar’s balanced, elegant, acid-driven house style.
Vineyards & Winemaking: Grove Vineyard, within a mile of the Russian River Valley boundary just southeast of Santa Rosa, once again provided the majority of fruit for this vintage – 56% of the blend is Grove Vineyard Syrah, with 1% Grove Vineyard Viognier for aromatic complexity. The remaining 43% was Syrah from Quail Hill Vineyard (25%) and Archer Vineyard (18%). This is the first vintage including our own estate Syrah from the recently acquired “Bliss Block” enclosed within Quail Hill Vineyard. Debuted last year in our Syrah, Archer is a site off of Starr Road in the heart of Russian River Valley. The terroir of Archer is slightly warmer with sandy loam soils, very different from Grove with its heavier soils and strong “Petaluma Wind Gap” climate profile. All fruit was hand-harvested early in the morning, transported to the winery while still cool, then hand-sorted before it was either de-stemmed or transferred directly, into small (2-5 ton) open-top fermenters. For this vintage 30% of the blend was “whole cluster” fermented to moderate extraction and provide aromatic freshness and lift. As with Pinot, fruit was cold-soaked 3-5 days at 50°F before fermentation. Fermentations were gently punched down by hand 1-3 times per day as needed. Total skin contact time ranged from 15-18 days depending on the lot. Skins from the drained tanks were gently basket pressed, with heavier press wine kept separate. After a short settling, the new wines were then barreled down where the secondary malolactic fermentation occurred over the next several months. One racking was performed, with aging on light lees until the final blend was assembled for bottling.
About The Winery:
Lynn Fritz, an expert in global logistics and humanitarian relief efforts, and family purchased the estate Quail Hill Vineyard in 1980 and, in 1990, founded Lynmar Winery to produce world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay reflecting the character of the Russian River Valley appellation, and terroir of Quail Hill Vineyard. Our first commercial wines were released in 1996 with the 1994 vintages of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Our 47-acre Quail Hill Vineyard estate has long been recognized as a stellar vineyard in the region, and has superb qualities for growing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Once a source for some of the top Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers in the region, today, the estate is the exclusive source for our Lynmar Reserve and Estate wines, as well as the foundation of our appellation-designated wines.
Balance, both in the vineyard and winemaking, governs the Lynmar philosophy. Led by winemaker Hugh Chappelle, our winemaking team starts in the vineyard; managing vine-by-vine to optimize even fruit ripening, quality and balance. In the winery, Hugh prefers to let Mother Nature do the work. He handles the wine as little as possible and, again, strives to achieve balanced tannins, fruit qualities and natural acidity. The result is our characteristic Lynmar style; wines with character, full berry flavors and balanced qualities reflecting our estate Quail Hill Vineyard.
Lynmar Estate celebrates the distinctive terroir of the various vineyards we farm creating wines that are elegant, complex, balanced, and age worthy. Acting as stewards of the land, the winemaking team takes great care to craft wines that truly represent the dynamic, cool-climate soils from the vineyards where the grapes are grown. A genuine mosaic of the land, the people, the food and the synergy of place at Lynmar Estate is revealed in each vintage. While select lots from Lynmar’s 47-acre Quail Hill Vineyard home estate form an important component of this bottling, the winery also works closely with a small group of local growers who share its commitment to quality, creating a fruit-forward wine that is a benchmark of its famous appellation.
Varietal Composition: 99% Syrah, 1% Viognier
Winemaker: Hugh Chappelle
pH/T.A.: 3.59/0.58g per l00 ml
Consulting Winemaker: Paul Hobbs
Consulting Viticulturist: Greg Adams
Aging: 18 mo. in 60 gal. French barrels (40% new)
Cases Produced: 437 (9L equiv.)
Bottling Date: March 15, 2008