Tamayo Family Vineyards

2005 Syrah


California: Sonoma County

Offer Expired:Apr 03, 2008 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

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 Tamayo Family Vineyards.

Mission Codename: Water into wine

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Locate a fantastic under $40 Syrah, and make it available to our Operatives – for less than $25!

Mission Status: Accomplished

Current Winery: Tamayo Family Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2005 Sonoma county Syrah

Winemaker: Jon Engelskirger

Backgrounder: Our Operatives love a great Syrah. They also love a great value on a quality wine. Today, all of the stars line up and we are able to bring you a rich and wonderful Syrah from another great Sonoma County winery, Tamayo Family vineyards. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes for all of the details on this wine, followed by his mission report.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep burgundy in color, with a dark and almost completely opaque heart of deep purple. This wine displays deep color concentration all the way to the edges of the glass, and long, spindly and widely-spaced legs that creep down the glass

Smell – Warm and toasty-spiced aromas with fruits of plum, dark cherry, blackberry and peppercorn

Feel – Slick and cool, fast across the mid-palate, mouth-coating and rich with medium tannins that gently grab the top of the tongue

Taste – Dark, smoky, dusky and hearty, with semi-tart flavors of dark mixed berry, dark cherry, earthen plum and mild spice with white pepper

Finish – Long and rich, with great medium tannins and flavors that tail off slowly

Conclusion – A surprising delight, this great Syrah is balanced and very drinkable with flavors and a mouth-feel that encourage you to take gulps rather than small sips. Many of Cali Syrah we have been trying recently have been overly sweet. Not so with this more natural-fruit wine. If you love great Syrah that does not over power with syrupy sweetness, give this wonderful wine a swirl!

Mission Report:

This is my second mission to Tamayo and am I ever glad I went back! Today’s Syrah is even better than the last Tamayo wine we featured.

When I first got word (from my network of informants, of course) of ‘great wines from Contra Costa County’, I was skeptical but decided to keep an open mind. A few days later, I took a quick jaunt out to investigate Tamayo Family Vineyards, with its beautiful estate vineyards nestled in this unlikely place.

I had a great visit and enjoyed my ‘tour’ of their wines. This family owned and run winery produces a great range of wonderful wines, sourced from vineyards in Napa and grown on their estate vineyard in Brentwood (not the S. Cal one, the Contra Costa one).

As picky as I have become as a wine drinker, I was really impressed with Tamayo’s wines. Whether this is a testament to their growing prowess, the grapes themselves, the winemaking or the region, requires further research to answer. You can bet that I’ll explore the region further…

Today’s 2005 Syrah is a really great example of Cali Syrah. The secret? Ahh, that’s the part that the winery won’t let me tell you. Here’s what I can tell you: The grapes for today’s wine comes for the winery’s own estate, and from another vineyard of Top Secret designation. The vineyard is in Napa and is snuggly sandwiched among some of the regions most famous vineyards. If you want to try to deduce the location yourself, please see below.

Having tasted Tamayo’s other Syrah, a 100% estate-grown Syrah, I have to tell you that I love today’s Syrah more. It seems to me to be more refined and more present, with better aromatics, a deeper flavor profile and a more supple mouth-feel. Whether these differences are attributed to the fruit, differences in the winemaking technique, the vintage or just luck is unknown. What is known is that today’s Syrah is a tasty treat.

For best results, decant this wine forever. Okay, well, maybe for a few hours at least. I accidentally left a bottle uncorked overnight and did not revisit it for nearly 24 hours – and it was fantastic.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the vineyard where this wine was born is TOP SECRET. Here is the only thing the winery would let us say:

…suffice it to say that the greatest portion of this Syrah was sourced form the Frank Johnson Vineyard that was planted in the early 1970’s in Dry Creek…

Okay, Operative, show us your smarts by sleuthing out the vineyard!

The location of Tamayo Family Vineyards tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

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About This Wine:

Hailing mostly from Dry Creek vineyards, this warm and rich red boasts deep black fruit aromatics with persistent white peppercorn and exotic spice perfume. Broad, lush and mouth filling to be sure, this wine has the tannic structure to mature for some time yet a precocious amiability that might tempt you to open it now.

Winemaker’s Notes:

Deep persistent aromas of ripe black cherry and spice box. A rush of fruit floods the palate, with concentrated lingering blackberry flavors. This wine has a full, round texture with a dry finish. Although enticing now, this syrah will develop more complexity and character with a little cellaring.

About Tamayo Family Vineyards:

The Tamayo Family’s vineyards are located in a strong agricultural region, in the wine country of Contra Costa County. With abundant sunshine and rich, alluvial soil the Tamayo’s chose to plant a complimentary grape to the region, Syrah…specifically, the Hermitage Clone.

Our Philosophy

A famous person once said, “Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Perhaps no better phrase sums up what we feel about making wine at Tamayo Family Vineyards. Our story, like so many others in winemaking, really began as a dream. With a passion for enjoying and collecting the greatest wines of the world, we once thought how wonderful it would be to actually grow grapes and bring them to the table as wine. Our grapes, our wine. So it seemed natural to us that as our small grape growing community started to expand, we took a once romantic notion and nurtured it into the passion that has become Tamayo Family Vineyards and Cana Wines.

Some have asked the origin of the Cana name. The answer is one steeped in miraculous historical significance. For it was at the ancient city of Cana that during a wedding feast water was miraculously turned into wine. Imagine how delicious that must have been! Likewise, we find somewhat miraculous our fertile soils that support our plantings. It would seem that the pioneers of over 100 years ago who initially planted Italian and Portugese varieties in our local soil really knew what they were doing.

All good winemakers express the thought that, “…good wine starts in the vineyard.” Hence, our focus has always been to provide our winemaker with the best fruit possible from our estate vineyards and elsewhere. Along the way, we purchased a small, but highly prized plot of acreage in Napa Valley just east of St. Helena on the Silverado Trail. There, a stone’s throw away from Kent Rasmussen and Joseph Phelps, we planted the Cabernet that we dubbed “Logan’s Run”. This wine, along with the other wines offered under our Tamayo hallmark, express the best of appellations and varietals including our Contra Costa estate vineyards.


The winemaking philosophy expressed by both the Tamayo family and our winemaker echoes the desire to coax the best from earth and vineyard; allow those qualities to shine through as radiantly as possible during the winemaking and cellaring process and subsequently bring the best of our product to you bearing either the Cana or Tamayo brand. And while this philosophy seems simple and straightforward, it is amazing how many of our peers do not subscribe to it.

We have found that the uniqueness of our estate vineyards and our vineyard sources outside our home appellation, make up the core of what we do from a winemaking standpoint. Thereafter, quality elements like French Chateaux barrels, superior American Oak ageing and the like, all fit in perfect unison to reflect our winemaking style.

We firmly believe that nowhere else in our appellation do the wines so accurately reflect their pure and honest heritage and birthplace. We hope that you feel the same.

Technical Information

Varietal: 100% Syrah

Vineyard designation: Dry Creek

Appellation: Sonoma County

Barrel aging: 6 months on new French & American Oak

Ph: 3.78

Acidity: 0.56g

Alcohol: 13.9%

Winemaker: Jon Engelskirger

Production: 500 cases

Release date: Fall 2007

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