What We Say 2004 Estate Grown Syrah
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Mission Codename: Who woulda thunk it?!
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Investigate reports of great wines from a relatively unknown wine growing region, and return with a stellar example for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Tamayo Family Winery
Wine Subject: 2004 Tamayo Syrah
Winemaker: Jon Engelskirger
Agent Red has been receiving numerous reports from his assets. These Operatives in the field keep their palates peeled for interesting wines and are diligent in sending in their tasting notes (keep them coming, folks!). When Red received a report of a winery producing wines in Contra Costa County, he was dispatched.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet red with pink-to-clear edges and thick legs that fork uniquely down the glass
Smell – Medium honey and spice (reminiscent of British or Australian Christmas pudding) with ripe cherry, cedar and sweet earth
Feel – Rounded, cool and light initially, then nice and grippy on the front of the tongue
Taste -Tart cherry, then sweet plum, raspberry and mildest bitter with a hint of Italian chestnut honey
Finish -LONG and clean, with great tannins and flavors that last and last
Conclusion – Once again we uncover a wine that provides a great surprise. Forget preconceived notions about wine growing regions. Made from grapes grown in Contra Costa County, California I was initially unsure about this wine. Then I tasted it. This is a great Syrah with unique character and an easy drinkability. It satisfies with well rounded flavors, great medium tannins and a mouthfeel that is both serious and a tad playful. If you are interested in trying a great wine for a region you have never likely experienced, try this wine. Enjoy it on its own or side-by-side with your favorite Syrah for an exercise in regional comparison.
At first, on hearing about ‘great wines from Contra Costa County’, I was skeptical but decided to keep an open mind. A few days later, I took a quick jaunt out to investigate Tamayo Family Vineyards, with its beautiful estate vineyards nestled in this unlikely place.
I had a great visit and enjoyed my ‘tour’ of their wines. This family owned and run winery produces a great range of wonderful wines, sourced from vineyards in Napa and grown on their estate vineyard in Brentwood (not the S. Cal one, the Contra Costa one).
Of particular note was today’s 2004 Syrah. It is a wine of balance, flavor and playful refinement. As picky as I have become as a wine drinker, I was really impressed with this wine. Whether this is a testament to the growing, the grapes, the winemaking or the region requires further research to answer. You can bet that I’ll explore the region further… and will bring you another Tamayo Family wine or two in the near future!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Tamayo Family Vineyards tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Tamayo Family Vineyards
Silver Medal – 2007 North of the Gate Wine Competition
Silver, Highly Recommended – 2007 Beverage Testing Institute World Wine Championships
Baskets of berries! Full, chewy Syrah flavors of black jam and spice pare well with any hearty entrée or a full flavored cheese… or with chocolate. Seriously!
Intense aromas of ripe cherry and allspice, hints of earth and cedar. A rush of red fruit floods the palate, with concentrated lingering flavors. This wine has a full, round texture with a clean persistent finish. Although enticing now, this syrah will develop more complexity and character with a little cellaring.
About Tamayo Family Vineyards:
The Tamayo Family’s vineyards are located in a strong agricultural region, in the wine country of Contra Costa County. With abundant sunshine and rich, alluvial soil the Tamayo’s chose to plant a complimentary grape to the region, Syrah…specifically, the Hermitage Clone.
A famous person once said, “Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Perhaps no better phrase sums up what we feel about making wine at Tamayo Family Vineyards. Our story, like so many others in winemaking, really began as a dream. With a passion for enjoying and collecting the greatest wines of the world, we once thought how wonderful it would be to actually grow grapes and bring them to the table as wine. Our grapes, our wine. So it seemed natural to us that as our small grape growing community started to expand, we took a once romantic notion and nurtured it into the passion that has become Tamayo Family Vineyards and Cana Wines.
Some have asked the origin of the Cana name. The answer is one steeped in miraculous historical significance. For it was at the ancient city of Cana that during a wedding feast water was miraculously turned into wine. Imagine how delicious that must have been! Likewise, we find somewhat miraculous our fertile soils that support our plantings. It would seem that the pioneers of over 100 years ago who initially planted Italian and Portugese varieties in our local soil really knew what they were doing.
All good winemakers express the thought that, “…good wine starts in the vineyard.” Hence, our focus has always been to provide our winemaker with the best fruit possible from our estate vineyards and elsewhere. Along the way, we purchased a small, but highly prized plot of acreage in Napa Valley just east of St. Helena on the Silverado Trail. There, a stone’s throw away from Kent Rasmussen and Joseph Phelps, we planted the Cabernet that we dubbed “Logan’s Run”. This wine, along with the other wines offered under our Tamayo hallmark, express the best of appellations and varietals including our Contra Costa estate vineyards.
The winemaking philosophy expressed by both the Tamayo family and our winemaker echoes the desire to coax the best from earth and vineyard; allow those qualities to shine through as radiantly as possible during the winemaking and cellaring process and subsequently bring the best of our product to you bearing either the Cana or Tamayo brand. And while this philosophy seems simple and straightforward, it is amazing how many of our peers do not subscribe to it.
We have found that the uniqueness of our estate vineyards and our vineyard sources outside our home appellation, make up the core of what we do from a winemaking standpoint. Thereafter, quality elements like French Chateaux barrels, superior American Oak ageing and the like, all fit in perfect unison to reflect our winemaking style.
We firmly believe that nowhere else in our appellation do the wines so accurately reflect their pure and honest heritage and birthplace. We hope that you feel the same.
Varietal: 100% Syrah
Vineyard designation: Tamayo Family Vineyards
Appellation: Contra Costa County
Barrel aging: 18 months on American & Hungarian Oak
Winemaker: Consulting Winemaker, Charles Hendricks
Production: 540 cases
Release date: Fall 2006