Red Blend •Camp 4 Vineyard
Santa Barbara County
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s exceptional Syrah is truly a wine of great distinction. Rich and bold, well structured with generous aromas and flavors, a wine that stands on its own and will also compliment the boldest of kitchen creations. Once again Epiphany’s winemaker Blair Fox blows us away with this delicious selection.
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Mission Codename: Camp Time
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit our good friends at Epiphany Cellars to retrieve their delicious Syrah-Cabernet Blend
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Epiphany Cellars
Wine Subject: 2009 Santa Barbara County Camp 4 Vineyard Syrah-Cabernet
Winemaker: Blair Fox
The Camp Four Vineyard (also known as Fess Parker Ranch) is 1,400-acre parcel of land that was purchased by Fess Parker Winery in the spring of 1999. The initial 250-acre block was completed and produced its first crop in harvest 2003 – of that about 130 acres are Syrah and the rest other Rhone varietals. Located slightly Southwest from the winery in the Santa Ynez Valley, the warmer climates and loam soils of this site shows great potential for producing fully ripened, mature fruit.
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
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dense and dark garnet-purple, with a darker but clear core that shows garnet and ruby streaks when tilted into the light . The color remains dense to the very edges and when swirled, random and tightly spaced thick legs hang, color stained, on the side of the glass before slowly descending to the wine below.
Smell – Bold and redolent with savory, spicy and earthy notes that frame its ripe blackberry, boysenberry, dark plum and currant fruit. These bold aromas are followed by a black licorice, smoke, cocoa and mocha coffee.
Feel – Rich, deep and full-bodied, this expansive, chewy and dry wine generously expands over the palate with its sturdy and youthfully firm grained tannins, soft but present acidity and highly textured dark minerality reaches the back of the tongue. The mouthfeel of this wine definitely smoothes as it opens but it remains very well structured and textured.
Taste – Plush and rich with the dark blackberry, dark cherry and currents, savory smoked meat and dark earthy notes notes blending with a touch of black licorice and peppery spice that lingers with the other complex flavors that are found on the nose. Rich, spicy and smokey toasted oak frame the fruit and hints of dark mocha coffee.
Finish – Ripe and dark black fruit and this wine’s savory, spice and earthy flavors lingering long into the finish as the generous and sturdy structure lasts and lasts drying the tongue and inviting another mouthwatering sip.
Conclusion – The 2009 Epiphany Cellars Santa Barbara County Syrah-Cabernet is a generous, full-bodied and chewy blend that highlights both its Syrah and Cabernet roots. It’s nose packs flavorful punch of dark fruit but has great depth of complexity when explored fully. This is a wine that you eat by itself or enjoy with a big juicy grilled steak. Enjoy this wine tonight after letting it open up or cellar for the next five to seven years.
We were unable to secure an interview with winemaker Blair Fox for this wine so please enjoy our interview with him when we featured Epiphany’s 2007 Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley Syrah
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Blair Fox
DATE OF BIRTH: October 1974
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 WHITE: Greetings, Blair. It’s great to be with you, again. Our operative’s love your wines. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Stagecoach Vineyard Napa Valley Syrah today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BLAIR: Thank you for showing my wine today!
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
BLAIR: My parents were always traveling the globe and bringing home wines to be drunk around the dinner table. I was planning on going to medical school to become a doctor but was lured into the Viticulture and Enology program at UC Davis.
WHITE: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
BLAIR: I really enjoyed the viticulture side of the program, but then fell in love with the enology courses and being able to see the conversion of grapes to a final wine.
WHITE: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
BLAIR: I feel the best wines are made in the vineyard. You have to be diligent with your vineyard practices to grow grapes worthy of making great wine. It is all about fruit quality, canopy management and managing your yields to produce the most exciting wines possible.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BLAIR: I am impressed by all great wines made around the world. I have gained experience making wines in two different hemispheres and like a sponge have absorbed as much knowledge from every winemaker I have ever worked with.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BLAIR: As an exploratory mission, we decided to search out some of the best vineyards in different growing regions that would be a counterpoint stylistically to the great Syrahs of Santa Barbara. Fortunately, we found a renowned vineyard to work with in Stagecoach, and the results are everything we hoped for after bringing the grapes down to our Los Olivos facility on temperature-controlled trucks.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BLAIR: This is an earthy, meaty, dense wine that needs something equally meaty to stand up to it. My call would be a leg of lamb roast with rosemary, garlic, and sea salt.
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Stagecoach Vineyard so special?
BLAIR: The Stagecoach Vineyard is perched about 1,800 feet above the Napa Valley floor and benefits from the well-drained oxidized soils, southernly exposure and slightly cooler night-time temperatures associated with mountain vineyards. I personally love Syrah vineyards planted in that red dirt… it reminds me of my time in Mc Laren Vale.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BLAIR: We are in the middle of racking and blending a lot of our wines right now. I taste every barrel for quality and defects to make sure only the best wines are produced.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
BLAIR: I make wines to be enjoyed by all. At Epiphany Cellars we specialize in the production of Rhone Varietal wines and blends. I want these wines to be balanced with intense fruit character, rich mouthfeel and beautiful aromatics.
WHITE: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
BLAIR: I am very casual about my approach to wine. I feel wines are best drunk with food, but are also great as an aperitif or after dinner. I feel you should drink what you enjoy regardless of price or region. It is fun to be adventurous with wine and see what else is out there.
WHITE: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
BLAIR: I love Syrah and would choose something like an old Grange from Penfolds or Cote Rotie from the Northern Rhone.
WHITE: 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!
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:
Wine Enthusiast -“The Cabernet brings structure and blackberry-currant fruit, while Syrah contributes softness and a roasted meat flavor in this dry, food-friendly wine. Drink it now with a nice steak, chop or stew.”
About This Wine:
On the nose, there are aromas of black currant, black cherries, brambles, smoke, chocolate and espresso. On the palate, there are similar hints of blackberry pie, espresso, chocolate and black currant added with flavors of black licorice and smoked meat. Up front, this wine hits you with essences of blackberry and black currant, followed by a big and rich mid-palate, and finally finishing with savory flavors of smoke and chocolaty espresso. Definitely a wine to be paired with your big steaks and smoked meats, our 2009 Syrah-Cabernet will delight with its well-rounded characteristics of rich fruit, chewy and savory tannins, dark chocolaty black and purple flavors while elegantly ending with great length and richness. This wine is big all the way through and will be enjoyable for years to come.
Food Pairing: Definitely a wine to be paired with your big steaks and smoked meats
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).
Varietal: 57% Syrah, 43% Cab.
Appellation: Santa Barbara County
Vineyard Designation: 100% Camp 4 Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley
Harvest Date: 10/17/09
Acid: 0.643 g/100ml
Aging: 22 months in 40% new oak and 15% one year old barrels; 97% French Oak and 3% American Oak
Production: 176 cases