Saddleback Cellars

2008 Los Carneros Syrah


California: Napa Valley: Carneros

Offer Expired:Jan 17, 2012 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


If you are a fan of fantastic Syrah or the wines of Nils Venge, then this is your wine. Rich and plush with abundant aromas and flavors and an amazing feel on the palate. Be sure to stock up on this delicious wine before our allocation runs out.


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Mission Codename: Laying Low

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Visit Saddleback Cellars and winemaker Nils Venge to acquire a limited quantity of the latest vintage of their highly esteemed Syrah.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Saddleback Cellars

Wine Subject: 2008 Los Carneros Syrah

Winemaker: Nils Venge


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 and balanced delight with deep flavors, dark aromatics and a voluptuous mouth feel.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Beautifully dark and dense ruby and garnet with a clear core that has ruby streaks when held to the light. Along the edges, the color remains dens and pails but slightly. When swirled, widely spaced fat legs are replaced by slow thin legs that hang on the side of the glass.

Smell – This redolent wine invites you in with ripe and spiced dark fruit blend seamlessly with other complex aroma of black pepper, summer flowers, toasted wood notes, soft earth and a touch of dried green herbs.

Feel – Rich, plush and velvet smooth on entry, this full-bodied dry wine’s sturdy tannins and tangy but balanced acidity hits at mid-palate and expands over the tongue. Textured minerals and the tangy acidity lingers into the finish as the tannins dries the palate.

Taste – Savory and spiced flavors blend with ripe and rich black-cherry, dark plum and other black and red fruits. Black pepper and toasted woody notes meld with floral, herbal, savory leather and earthy minerals.

Finish – Extremely long with the ripe, spice and savory fruit lingering on the palate for several minutes as the other complex aromas and flavors softly fade.

Conclusion – The 2008 Saddleback Cellars Los Carneros Syrah is a truly delicious, full and rich wine that invites you in with ripe fruit that blends spicy and savory notes. One the palate, this smooth and rich wine is both expansive and generous but with enough tangy acidity to make it great for enjoying with food or simply on its own. Enjoy this wine with a savory winter stew now or cellar for the next five years.

Mission Report:


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

NILS VENGE: This Rhone style Syrah comes from Carneros, the southernmost part of the Napa Valley. We make an extremely small production from a single vineyard. The wine is handcrafted in small one to two ton batches that are punched down by hand in T-bins.

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

NILS: Grilled Venison with a Green Peppercorn and Morel Mushroom Sauce. Peking Duck with Hoisin, Pecorino or Gouda Cheese.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Carneros region so special a place for Syrah?

NILS: Carneros is the coolest region of the Napa Valley. In warm years, like 2008, Carneros makes an ideal, incredibly balanced Syrah .

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

NILS: We are always busy at this hands on winery. Currently we are racking our 2011 red wines that are finishing Malolactic fermentation. We are also getting ready for our next bottling .

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 approximate location of the Saddleback Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

Softness and spice complimented by a maze of rose pedals and lavender, this meaty and peppery Rhone style Syrah is an elegant food friendly wine. Grown by the Layland family in Los Carneros, this hand crafted wine is a limited production of only 152 cases.

About The Winery:

Established in 1982, Saddleback Cellars is a small winery located in Oakville, in the heart of the Napa Valley. 14.8 total acres are planted to 8.4 acres Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.9 acres Chardonnay, 1.75 acres Merlot, 1.1 acres Pinot Blanc, 0.3 acres Pinot Grigio and 0.3 acres Zinfandel.

Known as “The King of Cabernet,” legendary winemaker and owner, Nils Venge, has been making stellar Cabernet Sauvignon, along with many other varietals here since its establishment. Nils’ philosophy on making wines for Saddleback is that they must reflect the best qualities that Napa Valley has to offer; sometimes a single vineyard, sometimes a single appellation, or a blend of appellations to make the best wine in a particular vintage. Despite his reputation as “The King,” Nils is a down-to-earth, cheerful, full-of-life kind of guy whose wines not only reflect the character of their region, but also seem to reflect his personality – bold, yet approachable, friendly and fun yet with layers of complexities.

In 1939, Lady Liberty welcomed the Venge family, Nils’ grandparents and his father, Per, into New York harbor from Denmark. Grandfather, Kund, was asked by his company in Denmark, George Jensen Silver, to oversee the New York City enterprise. The small family thrived in this fast paced new world. Per attended New York City College and studied business administration. When Knud retired from the silver jewelry business, the Venges looked westward, and Southern California is where they headed.

The family bought a home in the Hollywood Hills where Per was able to indulge in his love of horses. He worked at North American Aircraft as an efficiency engineer during World War II and was a member of the Sheriff’s Posse of Los Angeles County. One day, on horseback, Per spotted Gudrun Ingwersen, also a member of the Posse. When their eyes met, he knew he was looking at the woman he was destined to marry. Soon after, Gudrun gave birth to twins, Nils and his twin sister, Karen.

After the war, Per started a wine, beer and spirits distributor business in Los Angeles which specialized in Danish and European products. While growing up, Nils worked for his father on weekends and the summer holidays. When he graduated from San Marino High School, it was Per’s wish that young Nils would take over the family venture. They both agreed that they really needed to know more about wine. So, Nils enrolled at the University of Davis where he went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Viticulture with a minor in Enology in 1967. When he returned to Southern California, Nils enrolled at L.A. State College to work toward a degree in International Business Law. At the same time, Nils signed up as a Navy Reservist which sent him on a tour of duty in Danang, Vietnam.

When he returned in 1970, Nils decided that what he really wanted to do was put his degree to work in the Napa Valley and not to take over the family business.

Technical Analysis:

Alcohol: 14.1%

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