William James Cellars
Santa Barbara County
What we say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes even better than that, as is the case with today’s wine from William James Cellars.
Mission Codename: The truth is what works
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Respond to requests from Operatives for a Santa Barbara County wine, return to Central Command with a delicious example
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: William James Cellars
Wine Subject: 2005 Hampton Family Vineyard Syrah
Winemaker: Jim Porter
Backgrounder: From humble beginnings as a basement winemaker, William James is, today, creating wines or remarkable distinction, flavor and quality. Join Agent Red as he travels down the California Coast to uncover the history – and the secrets of today’s great winemaker
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Inky dark heart of purple-plum to ruby-red with color that is concentrated right out to the edge of the glass
Smell – Deeply aromatic, with big fruit of blackberry, blueberry, plum and dark strawberry, with oak, cigar box, smoked meats, earth and mild truffle
Feel – Very round all over the palate, mouth-coating and full-bodied, yet smooth and refined with soft to medium tannins
Taste – Sweet and rich, but not syrupy, with concentrated flavors of dark stonefruit, dark mixed berries, earthen tobacco, mild leather and soft oak
Finish – Warm, sweet, mouth-watering and very long lasting with a slight dryness
Conclusion – I am very impressed with this wine, which is one fantastic Syrah! It is rich and bold and flavorful with aromatics that keep your nose in the glass for a long time before you even feel compelled to take a sip. When you do sip this wine, you don’t want to stop. This bottle was the hit of a recent dinner party I attended, with everyone asking for more. The wine held its own as a drik-alone wine, but also paired perfectly with the eclectic mix of bbq meats, salmon, salads and sides that were present. This wine gets special recognition as a Top Wine Spies Pick of 2008.
Today’s wine is another brought to me by new Wines Spies asset, Codename: Agent Black. She insisted that I taste the wine, assuring me that I would fall in love with it immediately.
Her instincts proved to be right on the money the last time she brought me a wine so I willingly obliged. We met at my secret lair and we poured a few generous glasses.
The wine was incredible, drinking way above its price-class. There is much treasure to be found within this wine, from its richly layered flavors to its deep aromatics and fantastic mouth-feel.
As we sipped and sniffed and chatted, I remembered that novelist Henry James had a famous younger brother named William James and that William was a cosmopolitan gentleman with a rich upbringing, an intercontinental education and a somewhat tumultuous life.
An American philosopher and psychologist, William James (1842-1910) is considered America’s major philosopher and one of the great psychologists of all times.
To me, wine and philosophy go hand in hand. But don’t get me started here. To me, philosophical discussions are best done in person – and over an exceptional bottle of wine.
Our tasting continued and we both agreed that this William James Syrah is a fantastic wine. Especially for the price. If you love big, juicy and delicious Syrah that are not overpowering or over-alcohol, this is a gem of a wine.
Since you must try this wine to know just how good this wine is, I ask you to reflect upon this quote from William James:
It is wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence
In other words, don’t take my word for it… Try this incredible wine for yourself!
What the winery says
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About This Wine:
The grapes were harvested on September 27, 2005 from Hampton Family Vineyards, and October 17, 2005 Premiere Coastal Vineyards and yielded 4.0 tons per acres. The grape clusters were gracious and produced 155 gallons of grape juice per ton, providing plenty of concentrated flavors in the finished wine.
We crushed and destemmed the grapes into open top 1 1/2
ton fermenters. After the must warmed to 52 degrees F, the bins were inoculated with Syrah cultured yeast. This strain is specific for its use in Syrah to enhance the spice and fruit flavors and aromas of the grapes. Primary fermentation lasted eight days when we pressed the must into 500 gallon tanks. The wine settled for two days before racking into barrels. We used 20% new French, 10% American and 10% European oak barrels and 60% seasoned barrels. The wine was inoculated with OENOS cultures to start the secondary malolactic fermentation. The wine aged in barrels for 10 months.
Full bodied and rich with a mocha nose and a mouthful of sweet warm plums. A FOOD FRIENDLY BEAUTY!
500 cases produced.
Varietal Blend: 100% Syrah, 70% Hampton Family Vineyard and 30% Premiere Coastal Vineyards
Appellation: Santa Barbara County
Harvest Date: September 27, 2005 HFV and October 17, 2005 PCV
Brix: 25.0 HFV, 27.0 PCV
Fermentation: Eight days, Syrah yeast
Aging: 10 months French, American and European oak barrels (40% new and 60% seasoned)
Titratable acidity: .634g/100ml
About The Winery and Winemaker:
William James Cellars is the ‘Dream Come True,’ that began back in college in the early 90’s. While attending CSU-Fresno, Jim gathered with friends at the campus CATI building for wine tastings and social gatherings. After graduation, Jim began making wine in the basement of his house in Northern California. Starting by scratch with kitchen utensils, strainers and trash cans he began smashing grapes away!
As a proprietor, Jim created a product of excellence. Jim searched the California Central Coast from Monterey to Santa Barbara for grapes of superb quality. Jim’s efforts has created a product of ever lasting distinction, simple but elegant, high quality and class.
In 2003, Jim applied for an alternating proprietorship at Fess Parker’s Wine Center in Santa Maria. He made a Syrah and Chardonnay from Premiere Coastal Vineyards, a total of 450 cases. In 2004, Jim added a Central Coast Syrah blending 50% syrah grapes from San Luis Obispo County and 50% Santa Barbara County, a total of 1200 cases. In 2005, Jim added a Syrah from the Hampton Family Vineyards. In 2007, production increased to 5000 cases a year with special projects for Grappolos and The Red Barn in Santa Ynez and private labels for Jim Pollard of Vaquero Cellars and Bill Bogue with Camino Real Wines.
For the past 12 years, Jim has worked with different vineyards in irrigation specialties fine tuning their irrigation systems through moisture monitoring. Jim acquires all his wine grapes from these following vineyards: Alta Loma Vineyard, Camp 4, Garey Ranch Vineyard, Halter Ranch, Hampton Family Vineyards, Los Alamos Vineyards, Premiere Coastal Vineyards and Westerly Vineyards.
Jim’s attention to detail and superior craftsmanship will create a legacy for years to come!
Fermented in open top 1 ton fermentors. Aged in 33% new oak barrels. Full bodied and rich with a mocha nose and a mouthful of sweet warm plums.
Winemaker: Jim Porter