2002 Napa Valley Syrah
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
UNIQUE/SUPERIOR SYRAH ALERT!: Today’s beautiful wine is unique among California Syrah. Its also a steal at today’s one-time price!
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Mission Codename: An Uncanny Heritage
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Locate a superior red wine, from one of America’s oldest winemaking families
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Five Vintners
Wine Subject: 2002 Syrah
Winemaker: Kristi Raymond
Backgrounder: In the United States, ‘multi-generational’ in winemaking usually means two or three generations have been involved in crafting wines. Kristi Raymond, whose great grandfather was winemaking pioneer, Jacob Beringer, is a fifth generation winemaker. Agent Red was sent to Five Vintners to meet with Kristi and husband, Kirk – and to retrieve their fabled Syrah. Read his tasting notes and mission report below, and find why he declared today’s wine to be so unique among other California Syrah
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark ruby hues, exhibiting a tight and springy with clear-pink edges and thin legs that are fast to appear and then streak down the sides of the glass
Smell – Brightly layered with lush fresh-fruit aromatics of concentrated raspberry and blackberry with sweet tobacco, white pepper and mildest oak
Feel – Light, bright, soft and cool at first as the wine glides across the front palate, then the wines soft tannins grip the tip of the tongue and dry the lips slightly
Taste – Bright fruit leads this wine off, with authentic (natural, tasting like the real thing) black currant, tart cherry, Goji berry and ripe plum, with a hint of white pepper
Finish – Again, brightness and lightness, but with real flavors and big flavors that linger for a long time, ultimately finishing slightly dry
Conclusion – A superb wine, this Syrah is very unique among any California Syrah I have ever tasted. Despite its bottle-age, the wine shows very vital and even alive, with bright flavors and deep aromas. Most of the Cali Syrah I have had the pleasure to try this year have tended to be heavy, earthy, dusky, robust things. I loved them, sure, but this Syrah is, well, delightful in the way that it has these qualities, but holds them in check, delivering an experience that is light-hearted. The wine is all Syrah, but its got a freshness and playfulness that surprised me, given its bottle age and pedigree.
Pairing Note – This is a wine that is very well suited to paring with food. The wine has a lower pH and a great acidity, making it a great companion for most any foods.
Benefit from 5 generations of winemaking heritage with this fantastic wine. It will satisfy – on many levels.
Winemaker Background Report:
Winemaker Krisi Raymond, great granddaughter of wine pioneer, Jacob Beringer, might just be the only 5th generation winemaker in the entire country. At least the only in an unbroken chain of winemakers. You see, America experienced this little period called, Prohibition, which nearly ceased all wine production in the country.
Jacob Beringer was one of only a few winemakers that was allowed to produce a minimal amount of wine – but only for sacramental and medicinal purposed.
Post-prohibition, winemaking wisdom was handed down from generation to generation and, today, Krisi Raymond is making distinctive wines that I really love.
Notes on today’s wine, as told to Agent Red by Krisi Raymond, between the bottling of Magnums and a visit to the vineyards:
“I believe in good acidity. This Syrah was created with the enjoyment of food in mind. One of my pet peeves with many Syrahs is that pH is so high. This wrecks the acidity needed to make a wine work with food. High pH and low-acidity can make a wine feel flat and flabby.”
“The fruit for this wine was sourced from two premium vineyards,
Gonzalez and Trouchard in Carneros. Both produce exquisite fruit, but each has its own uniqueness; The Trouchard fruit gives the more traditional animal quality to the wine, while the Gonzalez is more delicate.”
“I picked the fruit with lower pH in mind, seeking balance. The oak is all French, with 20% new, giving the wine a more delicate oak profile.”
I thanked Krisi for her time and asked her if her children would bring about a 6th generation of family winemaking. She told me this:
“On a recent visit to the vineyards, I brought my 5 year-old son, Henrick, along. I had to run inside, but Henrick asked if he could stay outside. When I asked him why, he said, ‘To check the grapes, Mom’. When I came back out, I asked him how they were. He answered, ‘Hmmmm. They’re not quite ready yet’. So, yeah, I think we’ll have to change the name on our label soon!”
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Five Vintners can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Five Vintners, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
About This Wine:
Full of ripe plum and wild berry fruit with a smoky backdrop. A hint of white pepper adds spice. Rich and full in the mouth with well integrated tannins and balanced acidity.
A cool climate Syrah with 64% of the grapes coming from Truchard Vineyards in Carneros, and 36% from a small vineyard located just above Carneros in an area called the Lovall Valley.
About The Winery:
Continuing The Family Tradition – Krisi Raymond represents the fifth generation in her family to grow grapes and make wine in the Napa Valley. Her family roots run deep, dating back to 1876 when her great-great-grandfather Jacob Beringer, together with his brother Frederick, established Beringer Brothers Winery just north of St. Helena.
The next generation continued to produce wine through Prohibition for medicinal and sacramental purposes. It was in 1933 with the repeal of Prohibition that Roy Raymond began his career in the wine industry at Beringer Brothers Winery. In 1936 he married Martha Jane Beringer, grand-daughter of Jacob Beringer. Their two sons, Roy Jr. and Walter, continued the family’s winemaking tradition at Beringer Brothers Winery after attending college.
With their share of the proceeds from the sale of Beringer in 1970, the Raymond family purchased 90 acres of prime vineyard land south of St. Helena on Zinfandel Lane and founded Raymond Vineyard & Cellar. They planted a variety of wine grapes on the property and crushed their first vintage in 1974.
Now, nearly 30 years later, Krisi Raymond is stepping out on her own as a grape grower and winemaker. With just one acre of newly planted Sauvignon Blanc and a handful of select grape growers she plans to produce fine Napa Valley wines. Krisi will focus on her favorite varietals: Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.
Wine Type: Bold Red Wine
Appellation: Napa Valley
Aging: Aged in 100% french oak. 20% new oak.
Alcohol %: 14.2
Production: 721 cases produced
Blend: 95% Syrah/5% Cabernet Sauvignon.