Eight Arms Cellars

2008 Napa Valley Syrah

Syrah •Stagecoach Vineyard

California: Napa Valley

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Mission Codename: Eight Is Enough

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Seek out a very limited production Napa Valley Syrah for our discerning operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Eight Arms Cellars

Wine Subject: 2008 Napa Valley Syrah

Winemaker: Iain Boltin

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 from grapes selected from the Stagecoach Vineyard. located at 1500 feet above the valley floor in the mountains just east of Calistoga.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep and dark but clear garnet with subtle glistening reflections when held to the light. Garnet along the edges and when swirled initially, tightly-spaced and slow fat legs hang on the side of the glass while subsequent swirls leaves faster and thinner legs.

Smell – Rich and redolent aromas of ripe blackberry and black cherry layer with a solid spice and pepper component, notes of smokey oak and other aromatic woods and hints of floral violets adds complexity.

Feel – This full bodied dry wines is initially smooth then at mid palate the firm tannins, ample acidity and textured minerality grab a hold along with some spice making this wine chewy and expansive.

Taste – Deep flavors of black cherry, blackberry and other dark fruit blend with spice and pepper, smokey oak, shaved dark chocolate and toasted vanilla. Rich and generous that softens as it breathes but still retains its solid tannin and mineral backbone even 24 hours after opening.

Finish – Extremely long with flavorful ripe and plump dark fruit lingering along with the textured minerality.

Conclusion – Like a decadent dessert in a glass, the 2008 Eight Arms Cellars Napa Valley Syrah really delivers a well orchestrated blend of fruit, spice chocolate and toasted vanilla from the nose through to the finish. We enjoyed this wine with grilled burgers on a lingering warm spring evening. A bold but extremely well balanced wine with dark flavors, deep aromatics and an intriguing textured mouth feel that is sure to please.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Iain Bolton

WINE EDUCATION: I spent many years studying winemaking, attending classes at both UC Davis and Napa Valley College. I also worked two harvests as an intern at Dashe Cellars in Oakland, California.

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: I am the owner and winemaker for Eight Arms Cellars.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: The wine I make is handcrafted, lovingly tended, and produced from vineyards that allow grapes to embody all of their wonderful characteristics. I love wines that evolve in the glass, just as an early evening with acquaintances turns into a late night with friends. Making great wine requires the skill of an artisan, a craftsman, an alchemist and a technician. I like my wines to be different from vintage to vintage and vineyard to vineyard, so that they will surprise you and induce you to contemplate the mysteries of life.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”As a one person operation, I sometimes wish I had more arms to get all the work done — like say eight of them. I invite you to try a glass of Eight Arms wine. However, watch out. An octopus may reach out from the murky depths, grab hold of you, and drag you back for more!”

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 2006 Eight Arms Syrah, Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Valley, Released October 2008


AGENT RED: Greetings, Iain. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Eight Arms Napa Valley Syrah today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

IAIN BOLTON: It’s great to be here and thank you for featuring my Syrah on the Wine Spies.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

IAIN: Yes. I had been traveling the world for several years and had returned home to Australia. I was in my mid-twenties and always enjoyed drinking wine, but had never given it much thought. I was at my father’s house for dinner one night and he opened a bottle of 1980 Redman Shiraz, Coonawarra, South Australia (this was in 1991) and I was totally blown away. I couldn’t believe wine could taste so good. Fortunately he had a case of it and I remember drinking quite a few bottles of it over the next couple of months. It changed my whole approach to wine and showed me the potential for what a great wine could be. That experience has always stayed with me and I strive to give others that same feeling when they try my wines.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

IAIN: Being an Australian, when I first decided to make wine I took a look at one of the icons of Australian wine – Penfold’s Grange. I started to read about the history of this amazing wine and was truly inspired by winemaker Max Schubert who made the first vintage in 1951. At that time, fortified wines were in fashion in Australia, yet he had a vision to create a dry table wine that would become an icon. When the first vintage was released in 1952, it received negative reviews from wine critics and with poor commercial prospects, Penfolds management forbid Schubert from producing the wine. However, Schubert persisted in secret, and as those first vintages aged, their true value came to be appreciated. In 1960 Penfold’s instructed Schubert to re-start production, oblivious to the fact that he had not missed a vintage! That type of drive and determination to beat the odds, inspires me to not be afraid to take chances and work at making, the best wines I can.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

IAIN: Well, I could say it’s for all those cephalopod obsessed folks out there who just want to grab a bottle and enjoy a glass or two (or maybe eight!). Drinking wine should be a fun and enjoyable experience, so I try and make wines that are approachable out of the bottle. I also love the wines I make and really enjoy sharing them with my friends and family.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

IAIN: The 2008 Eight Arms Syrah is sourced from the amazing Stagecoach Vineyard in Napa Valley. The grapes were harvested early in the morning on October 29th and hand-sorted into half-ton macro bins where they under went fermentation. The wine was then aged for 21 months in 100% French oak barrels (30% new). The color is a beautiful dark reddish/purple with aromas of cherry and cassis that’s intermixed with plenty of spice, vanilla and chocolate ganache. This Syrah is beautifully fruited on the palate and has a full, lush texture that carries ripe, mouth coating tannins on the long finish. It is a wonderfully balanced wine that shows the full expression of the Syrah fruit. I think the best description for it is chocolate covered cherries.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

IAIN: Although there is a wonderful lushness to the wine and it’s great to just sip it on it’s own, if you are really adventurous, grab yourself a big chunk of octopus, throw it and some potatoes into a pot of boiling water seasoned with salt, bay leaf, smoked paprika and a generous splash of Syrah. Drink some wine and let it cook for a couple of hours. By the time it’s done, you’ll probably be onto your second bottle (so you had better buy more then one), slice up the octopus, drizzle it with some olive oil and enjoy!

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valley so special?

IAIN: This Syrah is made from grapes grown at Stagecoach Vineyard which has an average elevation of 1,700 feet above Napa Valley. The vineyard is strewn with large red rocks and the poor, well-drained soil, makes it an ideal location for growing Syrah. The grapes for Eight Arms’ Syrah are Clone 99 (Tablas 1A) and are well suited to the combination of cool nights and lengthy warm days, allowing for great complexity and optimal hang time. The vines struggle and produce an average of 4 tons of fruit per acre.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

IAIN: I’m just coming to the end of bottling and am starting to think about which barrels I’ll be ordering for the next harvest.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

IAIN: I’d say the best way to approach the wine is to come up to the bottle from the side. Kind of sneak up on it so that the octopus doesn’t get a good look at you. Grab it firmly with one of your arms (eight if you have them) wrestle the cork out of the bottle, pour it into a big glass, take a big gulp and enjoy the experience!

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

IAIN: Eight Arms Cellars is committed to sustainable practices and through our Go Green Drink Red promotion a portion of the sale from each bottle is donated to help combat global warming. I’m proud to say that in it’s first two years, Eight Arms Cellars has donated over $5,000. Oh, and I also have a huge tattoo of the Eight Arms Octopus on my right forearm!

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

IAIN: Thanks, it’s been a lot of fun chatting with you.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Stagecoach Vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the winery says

About This Wine:

The Eight Arms Syrah, Napa Valley is sourced from a two-acre block in the heart of Stagecoach Vineyard on the southern edge of Pritchard Hill. The vineyard is 1,700 feet above the floor of the Napa Valley providing ideal growing conditions for Syrah.

The grapes are hand-sorted and de-stemmed into half-ton macro bins. The whole grapes are left to cold soak for a minimum of five days. Fermentation takes place in half-ton lots with a variety of yeast being used. The must is punched down by hand 3–5 times a day during fermentation. After a short maceration period, the wine is pressed into oak barrels where it undergoes its secondary malolactic fermentation. The wine is racked once of its lees at the end of malolactic fermentation.

Enjoy now and over the next 5–8 years.

The 2008 Vintage: The grapes for the 20078 vintage were harvested early in the morning on October 29th. After fermentation, the wine was aged for 21 months in 100% French oak barrels (30% new). The color is a beautiful dark reddish/purple with aromas of cherry and blackberry fruit that’s intermixed with plenty of spice, vanilla and chocolate ganache. This Syrah is beautifully fruited on the palate and has a full, lush texture that carries ripe, mouth coating tannins on the long finish. A wonderfully balanced wine that shows the full expression of the Syrah fruit.

About The Winery:

Let’s face it. I love a great glass of wine. Why else would I be crazy enough to start my own winery! When tasting wine I like to experience what went into the making of it, from the terroir, to the vineyard, and finally the grapes. I want to drink wine for the experience of sharing it with friends and family, to evoke a wonderful past experience, to create a new memory, and to fall in love.

As an artisan winemaker selling something special is better then being the least-cost producer of a commodity. Most people are looking for a connection between what they eat and drink and the person who made it or the place it came from.

I strive to make the best wine possible, but won’t guarantee that they will taste the same from year to year. I want to be able to incorporate the variability of a growing season into the bottle of wine. Just like each vineyard will impart a different flavor and aroma profile onto the wine, each growing season is different from the last and this will also be reflected in my wine. I will also strive to be as green a business as possible, reducing carbon and fossil fuel usage wherever possible and purchasing grapes from organic or sustainably farmed vineyards.

I started Eight Arms Cellars because of my love of wine and winemaking. I spent many years studying winemaking, attending classes at both UC Davis and Napa Valley College and I worked two harvests as an intern at Dashe Cellars in Oakland, California.

Eight Arms does not yet have it’s own winery. I make the wine at Winterhawk Winery facility located in Suisun Valley. However our business office is located in Berkeley, California.

Lastly, as you navigate through my website, you may come across a picture of my son, Oscar. He is an energetic 8 year old that already aspires to being a winemaker!


Iain Boltin, owner/winemaker

Technical Analysis:

Cases Produced: 97

Alcohol: 15.0%

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