2008 Exuberance Syrah
California: Sonoma County: Sonoma Valley
What we say
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Mission Codename: The Spirited
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Canihan Family Cellars and, for the third time, return with an ample cache of their delicious flagship Sonoma Valley Syrah.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Canihan Family Wines
Wine Subject: 2008 Exuberance Syrah
Winemaker: Alex Beloz
We showcase very few Syrah’s on our pages so when we do, you can be assured that it is a very special one. Today, we return to our friends at Canihan Family Wines to bring you the latest vintage of their extraordinary Exuberance Sonoma Valley Syrah, their delicious interpretation of the noble varietal.
The Sonoma Valley AVA is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California with the first vines being planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacama mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides ideal growing conditions for Syrah. Grown on their tiny estate vineyard, today’s wine is a special treat.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Darkest garnet, with a clear but darker burgundy heart. Color is even, from core to the soft magenta edging. After swirling the wine, chubby, wine-colored legs take a long time to appear, before moving very slowly down the glass wall.
Smell – Deeply aromatic, with chocolate covered cherry cordial, blackberry and soft spice that leap from the glass. After the wine breathes for a little while, additional aromas of sweetwood, leather, cigar box and black pepper emerge.
Feel – Ultra soft and round, on entry. Then, a plushness takes over, introducing a dry, crushed velvet feel that spreads from the center of the palate, outward. Plush tannins and balanced acids work together to give the wine complexity and texture.
Taste – Overripe blackberry, black cherry, cassis and blueberry fill the palate. As the wine opens up, it reveals raspberry, cherry, brown tobacco leaf, dried meats and soft brown spice.
Finish – Very long and packed with flavor. Dark fruit slowly yields to red fruit, spice and earthy bramble. At the very end, hints of black pepper and flinty mineral put the perfect punctuation on the deep flavors.
Conclusion – This is another extraordinary Syrah from our friend, Bill Canihan and his winemaker, Alex Beloz! This is a wine that fills the senses and encourages you to take a long time sniffing, sipping, analyzing and discussing the myriad layers of aromas and flavors. The feel is elegant and rich, with just the right balance of brightness to make it a terrici – and easy – companion for a hearty meal. We enjoy each and every encounter we have with Bill and Alex – and we are always impressed with the wines that they craft. This 2006 Exuberance Sonoma Valley Syrah is the third vintage of the wine that we have had the great fortune to present. It is also the best, by far. Enjoy now, but be sure to hold onto a few bottles for the next few years.
AGENT RED: Greetings, Alex Beloz. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Exuberance Syrah today. We love this wine! Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
ALEX BELOZ: I’m so glad to be back with you – and your Operatives.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
ALEX: Travels to Europe, specifically Italy, after university. Met some great families that taught me about wine appreciation. I got the wine bug right away. When I returned home I pursued a career in wine.
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
ALEX: My first crush position. There’s nothing like getting the hands-on experience.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
ALEX: To make delicious, compelling wines from fruit grown under strong viticultural practices.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
ALEX: I suppose it’s more a region, the North Coast, that has influenced me. It’s where I learned how to make wine and where I work on a daily basis.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
ALEX: About 13 years now!
RED: Who do you make wine for?
ALEX: For my clients. In the end I make delicious, compelling wines that my clients will enjoy. Ultimately its they who will sell the wine. If they like it and are proud of it, they will be successful.
RED: Tell me, what makes the Sonoma Valley so special?
ALEX: Sonoma Valley is quite a large appellation. Many grape varieties thrive in this region because of that unique climate of warm summer days and cool evenings. As you move north in the region the days can become quite warm. Our vineyard happens to lie in the southernmost part of Sonoma Valley where it rarely gets too warm and so it’s a fine place to grow Syrah with plenty of ripeness and spice without forgoing finesse.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
ALEX: Consider and research it well. Get plenty of hands-on experience before committing to a full-on career in winemaking. There is a lot of romance that blinds folks into pursuing such a career not knowing that there is a lot of inglorious hard work and sacrifice in making wine.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
ALEX: The vines are dormant and we’ve just finished pruning the vineyard. It’s been a bit dry this winter but we’re looking at some rainfall in the forecast that will replenish the moisture needed for the upcoming growing season. In the cellar we’re racking and blending our wines from previous vintages.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
ALEX: 2008 was a very warm year in Sonoma Valley. We were able to extend hang-time of the fruit on the vine in order to achieve unprecedented levels of ripeness. We knew early on that this would become a BIG Syrah and because of that we aged the wine in a bit more new French and Hungarian oak barrels. This added a nice array of spicy notes to the wine. Dark chocolate and hints of blackberry jam envelope the aroma while the mouth-feel is sweet and dense on the palate. If you like your wines with plenty of character then look no further!
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
ALEX: Because of that bold, rich body it has, I love having a glass of this Syrah on its own. When I pair it with food I usually go with hearty meat dishes that are either braised or oven-roasted.
RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
ALEX: Wine is not my job. It’s my lifestyle.
RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
ALEX: No favorites. I like tasty, well balanced wines of all colors, varietals and regions…but it’s got to be good!
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
ALEX: Most of my wines are nice right out the bottle. They’re always better a year out from release. However, if one has little time or patience, as we all do sometimes, I recommend my wines to be uncorked a couple hours before tasting.
RED: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
ALEX: Corton-Charlemagne. Small production. Very pricey. Very good.
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
ALEX: Do you love what you do? I would respond: “I’m one of the luckiest guys on the planet!”
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
ALEX: You bet!
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine – “The smells of sweet spices and floral-accented berry fruit gain additional breadth from background notes of smokes meats. Medium-full to full in weight on the palate and very well-balanced flavors, this wine is not overly tannic, but its careful construction augurs well for several years of improvement in the bottle…”
About This Wine:
Exuberance describes our emotions upon learning that our first vintage of Syrah was judged by 47 judges to be the best red wine from more than 4,300 wines in the 2007 San Francisco International Wine Competition (www.sfwinecomp.com). We feel that great wines originate in the vineyard, and that the cool climate of our Sonoma Valley organic vineyard results in an exceptionally elegant Syrah. Back-to-back Gold & Double Gold medals have proven that our unique terroir, meticulous organic farming practices, and minimalist winemaking philosophy result in exceptional wines.
VINEYARD NOTES: Located on the border of the Sonoma Valley and Los Carneros appellations, planted in 1998 with FPMS Clone 1 on SO4 and 101-14 rootstock, this 3.4-acre vineyard produces a cool-climate Syrah. Phil Coturri’s dry-farming, pruning techniques and biodynamic vineyard management practices result in low yields of less than 1.5 tons per acre. The vineyard is certified organic by CCOF.
About The Winery:
The Canihan Family vineyards are ideally located in the Sonoma Valley, and because we border on the Los Carneros Appellation, the vineyards receive the cool evening breezes and early morning fog from San Francisco Bay that provide for perfect grape growing conditions. Biodynamic vineyard management practices, dry-farming, and hand-harvesting only at complete ripeness, fermentation with naturally occurring native yeast, and no fining or filtering result in flavorful wines expressive of our “terroir”.
Although our vineyards were first planted in 1998, we had nurtured the land for more than 30 years. William Canihan Sr. purchased the land from a Basque farmer in 1975. Because of our commitment to the land and organic practices, we let nature cleanse the soil for 23 years. We planted 1103 Paulsen, SO4, and 101-14 rootstocks, and the following spring we field grafted Pinot Noir French Dijon clones 115, 667 and 777, Syrah clone 1, and Cabernet Franc clones 4 and 7.
This year, our new four-acre Pinot Noir vineyard will yield fruit from clones including Pommard, Wadenswil (Domaine Romanee–Conti) 2a, Masson, Joseph Swan, and Hanzell.
Our vineyard manager, Phil Coturri is also currently managing the vineyards of Hanzell, Merus, Moon Mountain and Arrowood wineries. Mr. Coturri has an excellent reputation for his organic and biodynamic practices which are best judged by their results.
Varietals: 100% Estate Grown, Certified Organic Vineyard
Harvested: October 3, 2008
Sugar at harvest: 25.0 Brix
Aged: 21 months in 88% French Oak, 12% Hungarian Oak
Total Acid: 0.59g/100ml
Bottled: July 27, 2010
Production: 300 Cases