James Family Cellars
2008 Dry Creek Valley Syrah
Syrah •Mounts Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Mount Awesome
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Operative favorite, James Family Cellars, secure their Mounts Vineyard Syrah. Secure an ample allotment of this wine for our Syrah-loving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: James Family Cellars
Wine Subject: 2008 Cellars Syrah – Mounts Vineyard – Dry Creek Valley
Winemaker: Mat Gustafson
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 delight with original flavors, deep aromatics and a ultra-fine mouth feel.
Today’s Syrah, made by James Family Cellars, hails from the Mounts Vineyard is Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. The Dry Creek Valley, across the Russian River from the Alexander Valley, has a generally cooler and wetter climate which makes the growing season longer and more flexible than neighboring appellations.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep ruby hues at the edge of the wine, and darkening to dark garnet at the core of the wine. After hearty swirl, fast wine-stained legs rush down the glass to the wine, below.
Smell – Pronounced ripe blackberry, bramble and red cherry, give way to softer aromas of dark dried cranberry, dried violets, lavender, leather, dried meats and soft black pepper.
Feel – Soft and velvety on the initial attack, then softly dry and slightly grippy at the mid-palate with a medium tannic structure and a bright acidity. These contribute to a full, balanced and robust mouthfeel, without being overpowering.
Taste – Concentrated and bold, with lively flavors of cherry, ripe blackberry, blueberry, cassis, dark dried cranberry, spice, soft dried herbs, black pepper and dried flowers. Under these, the softest oak notes make a tender appearance.
Finish – Solid and very flavorful, ultra long, with sweet, dusky fruit leading to a slight tartness that is balanced by a soft black pepper and earthen oak.
Conclusion – This is a very impressive Syrah, which did not surprise us, given the potent combination of the winery and vineyard tat give it life. We have been ardent fans of both James Family Cellars and the Mounts Family vineyards. For the last 4 years, we have had the great fortune to showcase wines from both, and we are delighted each time. Today’s wine is a beautifully balanced Syrah that we do not hesitate to give our heartiest recommendation to. The wine is juicy, flavorful, balanced and so delicious. The rich aromatics had us inhaling the wine long before we ever took our first sips. The 2008 James Family Syrah is an approachable, delicious wine that has the structure and brightness to pair beautifully with your favorite foods, without overpowering them -as some Cali Syrah might bee prone to do. If you love great Syrah, you will love this great wine.
With 2010 vintage bottling occupying many wineries, we were unable to secure an interview with Jeff and Judy James. We are hoping to meet with Jeff James, later today, so please check this space again soon.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the James Family Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.
The location of the Mounts Family Vineyard, where today’s wine was born, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
90 Points – Wine Enthusiast – Give this Syrah a good decant to take the edge off the fresh tannins and acids. It’s a gritty, resilient wine notable for its wealth of blackberry, black cherry, currant, beef jerky, anise and pepper flavors, accented with sweet, smoky, caramelized oak. —S.H.
About This Wine:
This luxurious wine greets your eyes with a deep garnet color and well-developed legs. Aromas of cherry cola, vanilla and the slightest hint of salami entice you into your first sip which quickly envelops your palate with black cherries, plums and an appealing meatiness. The mouth feel is well-rounded and substantial and keeps your attention until the finish which is highlighted by layers of coffee, butter, cocoa and oak.
Enjoy it with grilled meats, pasta, or any of your favorite autumn meals.
About The Vineyard:
Stony Point Vineyard is located in a particularly cool area of the famed Sonoma Coast winegrowing region. Situated on the northern edge of the Petaluma Wind Gap and less than sixteen miles from the coastline the vines are influenced by the Pacific Ocean daily. This cool climate creates a low-yielding slow-ripening environment that is perfect for Pinot Noir.
About The Winery:
Owners Jeff and Judy James, along with their two sons who are 4th generation Sonoma County agriculturalists, founded James Family Cellars. James Family Cellars is a family-owned boutique winery that is dedicated to the production of artisinal wines that showcase the world-class grapes that they grow. Jeff and Judy planted their vineyard in 1998. They have been selling grapes for many years to premium wineries in Sonoma and Napa Counties. After winning several awards for the amateur wines they produced from their grapes, they decided in 2007 to follow their dreams and start James Family Cellars. Jeff and Judy are committed to the highest quality, which is reflected in the limited number of cases released.
James Family Cellars is dedicated to reaching the pinnacle of what Pinot Noir can be—a marvelously aromatic and flavorful wine. We are committed to quality and this is reflected in the limited number of cases released.
This is a family enterprise, involving our two sons and other family members. We are all involved and dedicated to the same goals. We enjoy being part of our region’s agricultural and wine businesses and strive to always produce wines which delight our customers.
Single Vineyard Pinot Noir:
From the vineyard to the cellar, our goal is to craft wines that are a delight to drink and a distinct expression of our vineyard. This ensures that our site’s singular “fingerprint” is revealed in the wine that we ultimately present to our customers.
Patience is a Virtue For Pinot Noir – James Family Cellars’ grapes are nurtured in the vineyard throughout the year and hand picked based on taste and appearance. In the cellar, we emphasize gentle handling, slow fermentation and lengthy aging to promote a Pinot Noir wine that is both elegant and long lasting. Our patience is rewarded by the seductive flavors and textures of a world-class Pinot Noir.
Location and Climate – Stony Point Vineyard, our home site on which our James Family Cellars Pinot Noir is grown, is situated on a gently sloping parcel of nearly 10 acres in the rolling hills of western Sonoma County. This area is famous for its cool climate Pinot Noir. The region’s cool maritime climate is balanced by our vineyard’s south facing exposure, providing us with ultimate hang time. As a result, our Pinot Noir grapes ripen slowly and evenly with tremendous balance of sugar, acid and flavors.
Design and Farming – Our vineyard’s specific row orientation, which mirrors the slope of the land, maximizes sunlight exposure, maintains natural soil profiles and provides us with better access to the vines for lower impact farming. In partnership with our vineyard managers, Steve and Joe Dutton, we practice a variety of sustainable farming techniques aimed at maximizing vine health and fruit quality. Canopy management is critical for proper sun exposure, while leaf pulling maintains open air flow and reduces the need for spraying. Crop thinning throughout the growing season concentrates flavors and ensures full ripening. Since we are located within the Russian River watershed, we are committed to fish friendly farming practices including the use of cover crops, drip irrigation and alternate row tilling to prevent erosion and run off.
Sustainable Farming – Sustainable agriculture is an alternative system of farming based upon resource conservation and quality of life to the surrounding environment and its inhabitants. The three most common indicators that appear in definitions of sustainable agriculture are: environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially acceptable. In this context, sustainable agriculture embraces all agricultural systems striving to meet these criteria. Such practices require a high degree of management of biological resources, and a firm commitment to long-term sustainable growth.
Varietal: 100% Syrah
Vineyard: Mounts Vineyard
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley
Aging: 10 months in oak