Arcadian Winery

2005 Stolpman Vineyard Syrah

Syrah •Stolpman Vineyard

California: Central Coast

Offer Expired:Sep 17, 2011 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


Today’ wine is a fantastic wine made with some of the finest Syrah grown in California. Elegant, bold, rich and smooth – today’s wine opens up beautifully and continues to develop as you enjoy it. It easily deserves this special recognition. At today’s special price it also deserves your special recognition!


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Mission Codename: Smooth Operator

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Infiltrate the award-winning Santa Barbara County Arcadian Winery, a winery that has always kept its prized wines close. Get special access to Arcadian’s best wines, and select a high-scoring single vineyard Syrah for our deserving Operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Arcadian Winery

Wine Subject: 2005 Stolpman Vineyard Syrah – Santa Ynez Valley

Wnemaker: Joseph Davis


Syrah is best known for its connection to France’s Rhone Valley that 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; but find an excellent home in California’s Santa Ynez Valley just north of Santa Barbara.

The Santa Ynez Valley, in Santa Barbara county is influenced but not dominated by the proximity to the Pacific Ocean. A little elevation and well drained soil makes for an ideal environment for viticulture as demonstrated by the range of great wines from the region. Today’s exceptional selection is grown at one of the finest Syrah vineyards in the region.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep and dark ruby red with subtle violet hues that shine through its dense but clear core and along the edges. When swirled, tightly spaced fat color-stained legs ring the glass and thin as they descend.

Smell – Highly aromatic notes of red ripe fruit with a touch of dark black fruit linger with perfumed floral and sandalwood and toasted notes. Soft earthy undertones, a restrained touch of spicy pepper and other exotic spice invites a sip.

Feel – Velvet smooth and expansive on the palate, this rich and full-bodied wine has sturdy but silky tannins that are surrounded by balanced fresh acidity and soft earthy minerality.

Taste – Layers of ripe red and black fruits including dark cherry, plum and blackberry blend with complex notes of mocha chocolate, soft black pepper, floral rose, softly spiced woody notes and earthy undertones.

Finish – Extremely long, smooth and rich with a kick of spice at the very end that is balanced by this wine’s lingering ripe fruit and mouth drying tannins that invite another luscious sip.

Conclusion – The 2005 Arcadian Winery Stolpman Vineyard Syrah is truly a spectacular wine that starts smooth, packs in layers of rich ripe aromas and flavors and lasts and lasts. Very well balanced, silky smooth and elegant. Expansive of the palate, extremely complex in a sublime way and everything in balance – just a fantastic wine. Be sure to give this wine time to open up and breathe and pair it with anything you can toss on the grill.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Joe Davis

WINE EDUCATION: course study at UC Davis

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Began my career at Morgan Winery in 1984 and remained for 10 years as winemaker. I spent one year as General Manager at Bernardus Winery and then began Arcadian in 1996

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Challenging the style of the new world

WINEMAKER QUOTE: It’s always about elegance and class with respect to Pinot Noir. It is in my soul and in my glass.



AGENT RED: Greetings, Joe. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Stolpman Syrah today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

JOE DAVIS: I’m pleased to be back with you and your Operatives, Agent Red

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

JOE: Without a doubt and the wine still resonates in my mind even today. As a young undergraduate I worked in a wine shop. While there a very good customer was kind enough to present me with a gift for graduation. I convinced him that we should share it with the staff that very night and of course we opened the bottle. To say it was a profound experience doesn’t really begin to express the impact that it has made on my life. I have had it on only one other occasion and again it was sublime. Subsequently, it was presented to me as a gift from the family that produced it while I was an acting guest of honor for the Magic Moments charity in Birmingham AL This bottle remains in Atlanta GA where it is in the artist Thomas Arvid’s cellar waiting to be painted alongside a bottle of Arcadian.

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

JOE: Again this is an easy answer for me – Jacques Seysses of Domaine Dujac in the village of Morey St. Denis Burgundy France. It was his 1978 Dujac Clos de la Roche that captured my soul. And it is this wine that has become the “elusive chalice” that I have been searching for in my own wines.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

JOE: This is an excellent question that can be easily answered but requires some explanation: When I am in the cellar it is my palate and mine alone that must be the deciding factor in preparing the final composition. I must make wine that I believe in and am most passionate about. So it must first be for myself and then for those who share my convictions of what great wine should be. The detail of what that can be requires a much greater space for discussion. I do believe however, that the wine should come from a place and consistently reflect that place. That despite many of the decisions that I must make in the process of making wine, the overriding factor should always be the place. There should be a consistent aromatic and flavor profile that can be recognized by many as coming from that place.

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

JOE: The 2005 Stolpman may be one of the most elegant Syrah I have ever tasted. While there is a purity of flavor that is uniquely Syrah, the expression of flavor is exhibited with such elegance and nuance and it is so well balanced.

Jeb Dunnick’s Rhone Report had this to say about the wine. “These carry lead into a medium bodied; perfectly built wine that shows fresh acidity, pure, clean fruit and a focused, long finish. Drink this beauty over the next 10 to 15 years. (94 pts.)

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

JOE: Recently Chris Phelps and Zac Walters of Salt’s Cure in Los Angeles prepared a chili braised pork shoulder over grits that made for a beautiful pairing. Earlier this winter I was in Whitefish Montana and the chef at the Boat Club prepared a roasted New Zealand lamb rack with whole mustard spaetzle and a port wine demi glaze that made for a wonderful snowy winter dish.

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

JOE: Santa Ynez Valley has long been know for producing some of the best Syrah in America and Tom Stolpman’s eponymous vineyard has been a standout for many producers including Manfred Krankl of Sine Qua Non and Bob Lindquist of Qupe to name just two, not to mention yours truly. The fact that much of the topsoil is indeed limestone (a unique soil type here in California) and in my opinion contributes to the elegant texture of the wines, is in part why Stolpman vineyard has reached the pinnacle of Syrah.

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

JOE: Harvest, harvest and harvest!

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

JOE: With the understanding that they were bottled with very little dissolved oxygen to aide in their slow development in the cellar. This means that they will require some decanting to allow them to open up. I want my wines to stimulate the mind of the consumer and that means they will need to focus and give some thought to it. The time they spend listening to and thinking about this wine will reward them with such pleasure.

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

JOE: I just want to say thank you to all of you who decide to bring this wine into your home. I am honored that you have invited us to be part of your meal hopefully shared with family or close friends. May this deliver far more than you paid and reward you in a way the you had hoped and deserved.

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 Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

94 PointsStephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar – Bright red. Lovely, floral-dominated scents suggest fresh red berries, kirsch and Asian spices, with sexy rose and magnolia adding complexity; seems to expand in the glass while maintaining focus. Silky and packed with sweet red fruit flavors, picking up floral pastille and bitter chocolate character with air. A very grown-up style of syrah that finishes with superb clarity and persistence. This doesn’t hit you upside the head, it hits you inside it.

About This Wine:

The Harvest: The Central Coast has been struggling for the last several years with low water tables and very low average annual rainfall. This puts additional pressure on the plants as they struggle to survive the impact of reduced water access. Additionally the soil begins to build up deposits of sodium that act like plaque around the rootstock portals. This slows the uptake of nutrients into the plant itself slowing down the overall physiological development of the fruit. Many producers are choosing to begin harvesting later and later into the season when grapes sometimes have desiccated and skin to juice ratios have become lopsided.

2005 was a wet rainy winter season, halleluiah! With as much as 39 inches landing on the vineyards in the Central Coast, much of the sodium was washed away freeing up the rootstock portals to flow freely. We noticed increased physiological development occurring earlier than in the past several years with the overall result being harvested fruit having much better balance and higher natural acidity with an excellent juice to skin ratio. Many Central Coast vineyards enjoyed bigger harvests due to the better overall set with much less desiccation resulting in an overall higher quality fruit.

The Vineyard: Stolpman Vineyard is situated 25 miles west of the Pacific Ocean in the Ballard Canyon of Santa Ynez Valley. Originally planted by Tom and Marilyn Stolpman in 1992 it has long been a source of fruit for some of the top producers in California including Qupe, Sine Qua Non, Ojai, Arcadian and Saxum. Not to mention the Stolpman family as well.

I manage two blocks within the Stolpman site: Block 1 is of particular interest because the vines are planted on 18 inches of limestone top soil, a soil type we don’t usually see here in California. The underlying soil is a Linne clay loam with limestone throughout. This block is planted to clone 7 Shiraz which was grafted onto Cabernet vines originally planted in 1992.

The second is Block 5 and it contains the Linne clay loam topsoil with the subsoil’s showing more chalk, mudstone and some limestone. This block is planted to the original heirloom clone of Syrah here in California, what is now defined as the Estrella clone.

The Production: The grapes undergo a tremendous amount of triage (sorting) both in the vineyard and in the cellar. I consider this to be one of the most significant practices we employ. They were crushed using a Demoissey destemmer / crusher and were inoculated and punched down immediately to get relatively warm fermentations. We wanted to bring out as much of the natural earth and spice flavors that the berries contained. The total fermentation time was 12 days the resultant wine went directly to barrel and was aged 22 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

A total of six barrels were produced from this vineyard with one of the barrels being dedicated to my sons Hommage a Max bottling.

About The Winery:

Inspired by the great traditions of Burgundian winemaking, Joseph Davis has been making Arcadian Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah in California’s Central Coast region since 1996. Using French artisan methods and hands-on vineyard management, Joe’s Arcadian label consistently receives high marks from the world’s most respected wine writers. Following his gut instinct allows him the complete realization of his dream and his mission remains to make wines that fully express the uniqueness of the vineyard and the region while capturing the voluptuous flavor of the grape and the kiss of cool California breezes and warm sunshine.

Traditionally, Joe harvests fruit with much more modest sugar levels and much higher natural acidity than many of his fellow growers. The belief that Arcadian wines will continue to evolve in the bottle for years to come and that this continued evolution will ultimately produce a much more interesting wine is what drives Arcadian’s – and Joe’s – philosophy of winegrowing.

Joe Davis’s Bio: Like most passionate wine enthusiasts, a great epiphany led Joe Davis to his calling as a winemaker…

While in college on an athletic scholarship, Davis, the son of a Monterey California fishing family, took a job in a wine shop. One Christmas, a good customer brought Joe a gift of a 1978 Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Domaine Dujac. One sip and he was completely taken with the flavor and sheer deliciousness of the wine, “To have winemaking as a life pursuit and to make wine like this,” he thought, “would be the most wonderful thing in the world.” And so his quest began.

Joe voraciously read everything he could find wine related and enrolled in UC Davis’ graduate program. In 1985, he met and went to work for Dan Lee of Morgan Winery. While primarily making award-winning Chardonnay, Davis never lost site of that fantastic Burgundy and in 1990, he presented a classic Pinot Noir production plan to Morgan Winery.

At that juncture, no one in California was producing Pinot Noir in the style of Domaine Dujac, and Davis was determined that implementing the French artisan, traditional methods of wine making and vineyard management would produce superior wine. Davis also felt that the cool coastal regions of central California were well suited to producing fine Pinot Noir.

His original plan included techniques Davis applies today to his Arcadian Winery Pinot Noir; whole cluster fruit is hand picked and sorted early in the day to ensure chilled fruit. It is sorted again after arriving in the winery and allowed to cold soak for 48 hours to arrest any premature fermentation. This allows the juice to extract as much possible color and tannin from the grape skins. Fermentation occurs in small open-topped wooden vats. The grapes are pigeaged (foot treaded) 3 to 5 times daily to further extract color, tannin and richness and are pressed when sugar levels reach 1 to 2 °. The wine completes fermentation in barrel, is aged in new French oak, and bottled unfiltered.

“Obviously, not all vintages are the same, the recipe might change, but by using these methods consistently, I impart a common thread among my wines that translates into my style” says Davis. He employed these procedures for all of his Pinot Noir vintages (1986-1994) at Morgan and then took this knowledge to a General Managers position at Bernardus Winery. Finally, in 1996, on his own and ready to fulfill his dream, he released Arcadian Winery’s first vintage of Chardonnay to rave reviews.

Utilizing his 26 years of experience, following his gut instinct and creating Burgundian style Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah allows Joe Davis the complete realization of his dream. His mission remains to make wines that fully express the uniqueness of the vineyard and the region while capturing the voluptuous flavor of the grape and the kiss of cool California breezes and warm sunshine.

Technical Analysis:

pH: 3.5

TA: 6.65 g/l

Alcohol: 14.8%

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