2007 Hampton Vineyard Syrah
Syrah •Hampton Vineyard
Santa Barbara County
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s extraordinary Syrah deserves special recognition as a Superior Wine. While all of the wines that we select for you are of the highest quality, sometimes a wine rises above. When we feature such a wine we issue these special alerts.
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Mission Codename: The Best 25 Months
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Revisit our good friends at Epiphany Cellars to retrieve their delicious, award-winning, Hampton Vineyard Syrah
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Epiphany Cellars
Wine Subject: 2007 Hampton Vineyard Syrah
Winemaker: Blair Fox
France’s Rhone Valley stretches from Vienne in the north down to the Arles in the south may be best known for its intricate blends of red varietals as demonstrated by its legendary Chateauneuf-du-Pape. And, the white varietals of this region are not to be underestimated. It is in the spirit of these unique Terrior driven varietals that inspires today’s selection. Syrah, a native to the Rhone Valley find an excellent home in California’s Santa Ynez Valley just north of Santa Barbara. The Hampton Vineyard location in Santa Barbara County is exceptionally well suited to growing Syrah and after tasting this wine we are positive you will agree!
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep purple plum hues, with a darker heart of black plum. When swirled, the wine shows a springy surface that settles very quickly. After it stops spinning, chubby, wine-stained legs start half way up the glass, before running slowly downward.
Smell – Lush, dark and very expressive on the nose, this wine leads with prominent notes of dark blueberry, ripe blackberry and cured meats right out in front. Under these, rest lush plum, tobacco notes, black pepper and the slightest hint of toasty oak.
Feel – Light and smooth on the initial attack. Then, the wine becomes very full and mouth-filling. Plush tannins add grip and texture, especially at the edges of the palate, where the wine takes on a distinctly chewy and fleshy feel. Eventually, a mouth puckering dryness spreads to the lips and cheeks.
Taste – Lush layers of flavors, including darkest blackberry, cured meat, blueberry, dark plum, black cherry and black pepper. Soft oak and a hint of exotic spice round out the palate nicely.
Finish – Dark, ripe fruit are supported well into the lengthy finish. Flavors coat the mouth and hang around as the wine takes on a chewy feel. Black pepper, spice and a hint of oak appear as the wine eventually dries the entire palate.
Conclusion – This delicious 2007 Hampton Vineyard Syrah, from our great friends at Epiphany, marks another rollicking Syrah-success. We absolutely loved the 2006 vintage, and we are thrilled to bring you the worthy successor in today’s deep, dark, delicious delight. Bold but balanced, chewy and ripe, this wine is a terrific solo-sipper that our tasting panel to a long time to discuss. The more we swirled and the more we sipped, the more the wine revealed itself. In fact, we enjoyed the wine so much that we got into the second bottle without hesitation. The next time I have a bottle, I will be sure to pair it with a generous t-bone steak, fresh from the grill. Enjoy now, or cellar for the next few years. We offer our hearty thanks to Epiphany and to winemaker, Blair Fox, for this wine is a beautiful Syrah!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Blair Fox
DATE OF BIRTH: 10/74
PLACE OF BIRTH: Santa Barbara, CA
WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Viticulture and Enology, UC Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Enologist for Fess Parker Winery ’99, Winemaker Sunstone Winery 99-02, Consultant winemaker Fess Parker Winery 02, Vintage Winemaker- Haselgrove Winery- McLaren Vale South Australia 03, Associate Winemaker in charge of the Rhone Varietal programs at Fess Parker 03-05, Head Winemaker for Fess Parker Winery 05-present
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: I spend a lot of time in the vineyard because I feel that wines are truly made in the vineyard. I try to show the different qualities of the different vineyards and create wines with distinct varietal character.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: I have always been particularly fond of Syrah.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Traveling throughout the Rhone Valley in France and tasting some of the best examples of Syrah and other Rhone varietals the world has to offer.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: I feel privileged to work with some of the best vineyards and fruit in Santa Barbara County.
AGENT RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BLAIR FOX: Every year, this syrah is the first grape that we pick – usually the first week of September. The vineyard crew hand picks the grapes, which are then hand sorted and deposited into the destemmer once they reach the winery. Next, we prep the grapes for fermentation by crushing 50% of the fruit and leaving the remainder as whole berries. All the fruit is then pumped into 5-ton, open-top fermentors, which allows the crew to do punch downs, creating better structure in the wine. The lot is cold soaked for 5-6 days to extract the color and flavor from the skins. We then inoculate the Hampton Syrah with a Rhone-isolate yeast, a good steady fermentor, and keep fermentation with cooling around 85-90 degrees. After a 10-14 day fermentation, the juice is put into French oak barrels (50% new) for 25 months. Opaque and inky for a Syrah, you will find blackberry, blueberry, smoked meat, bbq spices, white pepper and a little hint of vanilla on the nose. The palate showcases blackberry, plum, black pepper, tar, dark chocolate and toasty oak.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BLAIR: I think the 2007 Hampton Syrah would be a welcome addition to an evening with your favorite steak dinner, a wood burning fire and the people you enjoy most!
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Santa Barbara region so special?
BLAIR: Santa Barbara is a very unique region. We have very cool areas such as the Santa Rita Hills, which is the ultimate place to grow high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and we have the more interior Santa Ynez Valley where some of the most exciting Rhone varietals in the world are grown.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BLAIR: Bottling and checking vineyards to make sure everything is maturing correctly.
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!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Epiphany Cellars in Solvang can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
90 Points – Robert Parker
About This Wine:
Our 2007 vintage of Hampton Syrah has followed suit by earning 90 points from Robert Parker Jr. Every year, this syrah is the first grape that we pick – usually the first week of September. After a 10-14 day fermentation, the juice is put into French oak barrels (50% new) for 25 months. Opaque and inky for a Syrah, you will find blackberry, blueberry, smoked meat, bbq spices, white pepper and a little hint of vanilla on the nose. The palate showcases blackberry, plum, black pepper, tar, dark chocolate and toasty oak. The 2007 Hampton Syrah will be a welcome addition to an evening with your favorite steak dinner, a wood burning fire and the people you enjoy most.
About The Vineyard: We have been sourcing gapes from Dale Hampton’s estate 10-acre vineyard for 7 years now, and are never surprised by the outstanding quality that his vines always seem to provide. Not only is this vineyard located in the warm eastern end of our valley where the Syrah grapes tend to deal with slightly more challenging conditions creating nicely structured, yet smaller concentrated berries, but the vineyard has Dale Hampton to back his fruit up! Four decades ago, Dale was one of the original pioneers for growing grapes here in the Santa Ynez Valley. Since then, he has been advising others how and where to plant grapes, which has helped make our valley the award-winning viticulture area that we are lucky to be a part of today. So, it is no wonder that every year, our Hampton Vineyard Syrah turns out a big, structured wine that is sure to turn a few heads! (In fact, our 2006 vintage exemplified this when Robert Parker gave it 92 points!)
About The Winery:
When Fess Parker was cast in the roll of Davy Crockett in the mid-1950’s, it caused an international sensation and changed his life forever. So too did the purchase of 714 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley change the course of the Parker family’s history.
Realizing the potential of Santa Barbara County as a premium grape-growing region, Fess and his son, Eli, originally set out in 1989 to plant a small vineyard and sell fruit to local producers. But, as Fess’ daughter, Ashley explains, “ Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small. “The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard now farms almost 700 acres on four vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County.
The characters Fess portrayed, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, inspired generations of Americans. Throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s Fess was at the pinnacle of a television career that has an unprecedented impact upon American popular culture. But is was Fess’ entrepreneurial spirit that prompted his leaving Hollywood to go into business for himself. The traits that Crockett and Boone embodied – integrity, resourcefulness and good humor — carried over to Fess’ personal life and formed the foundation upon which the family business was built. First-class hospitality has always been at the core of their ventures, first as hoteliers and eventually with the opening of the winery.
Working as a family has always been a great source of pride and pleasure for the Parker family. Eli Parker began in the family business as assistant winemaker in 1989. After several years of learning the craft at the side of renowned and accomplished winemakers, Eli took the reigns as winemaker himself with the 1995 vintage. A leader of the winery since it’s inception, it was in 1996 that Eli formally assumed the title and responsibilities of President. In the early 1990’s, Ashley ran the first tastings out of the barrel room and represented the winery at trade shows. In 1998, Ashley became Eli’s partner, working on the public relations and sales and marketing teams. The presence of Fess and his wife Marcy as the founding visionaries of the winery is a vital and enduring one.
About The Winemaker:
BLAIR FOX – Head Winemaker – Graduating from UC Davis in 1999 with a combined degree in Viticulture and Enology, Blair Fox gained winemaking experience at Sunstone Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley (1999-2001), and at Haselgrove Winery – a custom-crush winery in McLaren Vale, Australia (2003).
He also traveled through France’s Rhône Valley before returning to his hometown of Santa Barbara. He then joined Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard as Associate Winemaker, overseeing the Rhône varietal wines. Fox had previously consulted in the vineyard for the winery’s 2002 harvest.
“Having focused on the winery’s estate Syrah and Rhône varietal vineyards, I’m excited to add on the responsibility for Ashley’s and Bien Nacido vineyards and control the Burgundian part of our portfolio (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay),” said Fox. “The vineyards and clonal selection here are of such high quality, and the Parkers are a great family to work for.”
Fox continues the stylistic direction set by Eli Parker when capturing the terroir of the vineyards. He aims to continue raising the bar for the award-winning Fess Parker wines, such as the 2001 Rodney’s Vineyard Syrah (91pts, Wine Advocate), 2002 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir (93pts, Wine Spectator), and 2001 American Tradition Reserve Syrah, (92pts, Wine Advocate).
Production: 147 Cases