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Inspiration Vineyards & Winery 2009 Dry Creek Valley Syrah

Inspiration Vineyards & Winery 2009 Dry Creek Valley Syrah

What We Say 2009 Dry Creek Valley Syrah


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Mission Codename: Divine Inspiration

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Infiltrate Inspiration Vineyards and Winery and secure an allocation one of their coveted single vineyard Syrah

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Inspiration Vineyards and Winery

Wine Subject: 2009 Syrah – Palindrome Vineyards – Dry Creek Valley

Winemaker: Jon Phillips

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 hails from Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley, which sits across the Russian River from the Alexander Valley. Dry Creek has a generally cooler and wetter climate, which makes the growing season longer and more flexible than neighboring appellations.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark burgundy at the core, lightening as you look toward the magenta edges of the wine. After swirling, tall, skinny legs take a very long time to emerge – and an even longer time to run down the glass to the wine, below.

Smell – Spiced plum, blackberry, Bing cherry and black pepper are way out in front. As the wine opens up, after some hearty swirling, it reveals cigar box, clean, wet soil, spicy sweetwoods and a hint of mocha.

Feel – Cool and light, up front, and then plush and grippy at the mid-palate. Super bright acids and fine-grained tannins give the wine an intriguing and balanced appeal.

Taste – Bright, tart cherry, young strawberry, blackberry and plum give way to fine brown spice, dried cranberry, cedar, leather, wild fennel and black pepper.

Finish – Bright and medium-length, with sweet and tart fruit that sustain in equal proportion as they tail off. At the end, fruit is replaced by soft spice as the mouth waters.

Conclusion – Brighter and juicier than one might expect from a Dry Creek Valley Syrah, this wine drives its flavors with its high acidity. As the wine breathes, it softens and reveals more of the characteristic dark fruit that we have become accustomed to with Syrah from this region. Drinking very nicely, now, we can’t help but think that this wine will only continue to improve for up to the next decade. Certainly a terrific food wine, we’d recommend a pairing with braised beef of a big plate of Spaghetti Bolognese. Recommended for those that are seeking a more bright and juicy experience over one that is more dark and foreboding.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Jon Phillips

WINE EDUCATION: University of California Extension – Davis (1998-2000)

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Hospitality Representative & Wine Educator – Mirassou Winery, San Jose California (1986 – 1989); Wine Educator – Self Employed (1990 – 2001); Wine Educator – College of San Mateo (2000 – 2001)
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Step back and allow the grapes to make the wine with the least interference as possible. The overall goal is to produce a balanced, food friendly wine with proper acidity that sells for a reasonable price.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”A little Inspiration helps make every day a celebration!”



AGENT RED: Greetings, Jon. We are thrilled to be showing your 2009 Syrah today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

JON PHILLIPS: Thanks Agent Red, it’s great to be here! Our Dry Creek Syrah is one of the wines that I make that I’m most passionate about and love to share!

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

JON: Yes! I was at my soon to be brother-in-laws bachelor party. His mates and I took him out to a steakhouse restaurant for dinner. They brought along an aged Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. It was something like a ’72 or ’73 vintage I believe… I was 20 years old (and I didn’t have a fake ID) and they offered me some with my Prime Rib. WOW – I was blown away by how this wine with balanced tannins reacted with the meat. I have always been into food ever since I was a child and I have always cooked since a very early age, (I was making my own scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes at 5) so the flavor explosion was incredible and I knew then that I needed to learn more about wine!

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

JON: That’s a really tough question. I think early on, Paul Draper (Ridge Vineyards) played an important role, because I was exposed to his wines when I first started learning about wine. He’s a wonderful person who has taught me a lot about standing back and allowing the grapes to make the wine! I think a pivotal moment came in 2001 while visiting France’s Côte Rôte when I met winemaker Pierre Benetiere. His passion for Syrah and Viognier really resonated with me and the style of his wines I could totally get and appreciate. The Syrah that I’m offering you is a direct outcome of that influence!

RED: Who do you make wine for?
JON: This looks like a two part question… The first answer is, myself – guilty as charged. If I don’t like it, then I know I can’t get others to like it either. I have had a few wine shops tell me as much – sometimes in positive way and sometimes not so much… {laugh} I started out as a wine consumer and wine educator, so I think I have a well-developed palate that understands what consumers are looking for. I say this from a casual perspective, because I have always looked for wines that are approachable to the everyday wine drinker and not the person who tries to be the wine snob, wine collector.
In answering the second part of your question, besides my own brand Inspiration Vineyards, I make wine for the following clients: Frati Horn, REDiculous, Wedding at Cana, and Mahina. I also privately consult for a few clients.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

JON: I make this wine co-fermented from 93% Syrah grown in Dry Creek Valley and 7% Viognier coming from the Russian River Valley. The wine was barrel aged for 23 months in American Oak, with about a third of the barrels being new. I’m passionate about this wine and every glassful takes me back to the town of Côte Rôte, in France’s Rhône Valley. This is perhaps our deepest vintage to date with full bodied tannins, providing great aging potential for the next 8 to 10 years. I recommend decanting if you plan to serve this wine during the first year after release. The nose is tight with notes of blackberry and chocolate. On the palate you’ll find rich blackberries, cedar, mocha and coffee. Only 140 cases were produced.

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

JON: Can you say lamb? I love this wine with lamb, venison or beef. It’s a food wine to be sure, needing something that has some richness to complement the tannins.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Dry Creek Valley such a special place for Syrah?

JON: Warm to hot days and cool nights. For this particular hillside vineyard, I also give credit to the clay soil that radiates heat during the evening hours. This allows the grapes to nicely ripen at night.

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

JON: I have been busy working on the 2010 vintages, getting them ready for bottling in the next couple of weeks; along with the usual barrel work for the 2011 vintages that are just finishing up maloactic fermentations. Lots of production work right now that I’m anxious to complete so that my wines are put to bed for a few months.

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

JON: I’m a serious winemaker, making a seriously good wine that I want folks to enjoy with food and not take too seriously… I think our Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Viognier are our signature wines. They are made with food in mind and they are distinctive and not run of the mill. I’m hoping that once folks get these wines in their glass with food, they will discover a new gem and become loyal fans and get connected with our winery.

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

JON: Just that wine is something to be enjoyed and in my opinion, not taken too seriously. If you love food and wine and are looking for a new discovery, I’m hoping that they will give us a chance. Our Syrah is likely one of our best wines right now that we are offering and certainly for me, one of the wines that I make where I’m the most passionate. I truly hope that after one of your readers try’s a bottle, they will become a fan too! Thank you for letting me share my thoughts today!

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!

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What the Winery Says Inspiration Vineyards & Winery

Inspiration Vineyards & Winery
Inspiration Vineyards & Winery

About This Wine:

Tasting Notes: This is perhaps our deepest vintage to date with full bodied tannins, providing great aging potential for the next 8 to 10 years. We recommend decanting if you plan to serve this wine during the first year after release. The nose is tight with notes of blackberry and chocolate. On the palate you’ll find rich blackberries, cedar, mocha and coffee.

Syrah is a special wine for us. It represents a place in France that we are very fond of, the Rhone Valley. Made in the tradition of a Côte Rôte, the addition of Viognier brings out wonderful color and aromas in this wine. We started making this Syrah during our R&D years and haven’t stopped since. It definitely is one of our favorite wines to make and drink with food, especially lamb and beef.

About The Winery:

Can you believe that we have been actively producing wines since the turn of the century?

Slight exaggeration, but actually true. Although it has only been since 1999 that Barbara and I started producing wine for friends and family, our fascination with wine goes back a long way. In fact, wine is what brought us together. We met while I was working at Mirassou Winery’s tasting room in San Jose, California. It may also be possible that my interest in wine is in my blood. My great-grandparents owned vineyards in San Martin, California in the early 1900s (see photo below).

After leaving Mirassou, my knowledge and interest in wine continued to grow. I began independently teaching wine appreciation classes on the San Francisco Peninsula. Subsequently, I took classes through UC Davis Extension in Enology and Viticulture. Then in 1999, Barbara and I produced our first wine, one barrel of Contra Costa Zinfandel using grapes purchased from Rosenblum Cellars.

As production expanded and the medals started validating our efforts, we became more and more aware that steps needed to be taken to move our home winery operations into a larger facility that could be bonded and licensed to produce a commercial product. So in 2001 our dreams came true and we bought a beautiful 6 acre property in Sonoma County, complete with 4.5 acres of vineyards.

In 2002, while waiting for our permits, we contracted with another winery facility where we could produce our first commercial wines. In June of 2003, we announced our first release, and by fall our official winery operation began on-site, with the production of approximately 500 cases.

By 2009 our production had grown to approximately 2000 cases and it was time to look for a larger space to produce and sell our wines. In September 2010, we moved our winemaking operations and opened a tasting room in the Pinecreek Business Park where alongside several other well known wineries, we are now open daily for tours and wine tasting.

These are exciting times for our winery! Thank you for visiting us today. Please check back often for new developments and information about our current and future wine releases.

Cheers! Jon

Technical Analysis:

Vineyard: Palindrome Vineyards

Appellation: Dry Creek Valley

Varietal Blend: 93% Syrah, 7% Viognier

Harvest Date: September 12th, 2009

Brix at Harvest: 24.9°

Total Acid: .68 g/L

pH: 3.75

Alcohol: 15.2%

Fermentation / Cellaring: Open-top
fermented – addition of Viognier at time of fermentation. Aged for 23 months in American oak, 1/3rd new.

Bottled Date: August 23rd 2011

Release Date: November 1st 2011

Cases Produced: 140

Offer Expired Feb 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm
Price Redacted
Offer Expired Feb 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm
Price Redacted