Phoenix Ranch Wines

2005 Napa Valley Syrah


California: Napa Valley

Offer Expired:Aug 23, 2008 at 11:59 pm
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The Wine Spies are proud to be the ONLY online retail to carry today’s wine. Credit our exceptional sleuthing skills for today’s incredible wine find…

Mission Codename: From the ashes

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Investigate reports that the Phoenix family, long revered for their grape-growing prowess in Napa Valley, have crafted the perfect artisan Syrah. If the wine is as good as reports indicate, procure a supply for our demanding Operatives

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery:Phoenix Ranch

Wine Subject: 2005 Syrah – Napa Valley

Winemaker: Cathy Corison

Backgrounder: The popularity of Syrah is undeniable. Big and bold in flavor and texture, it packs a concentrated punch of flavor that many people love. This Rhone varietal, although many believe that the grape originated in the Persia region, is 100% French in lineage. The Syrah grape is directly descendant from the Monduese Blanche and Dureza varietals and is grown worldwide with great success. Today’s delicious Syrah is a delight with original flavors, deep aromatics and a tender mouth feel. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Intensely dark garnet with purple edges, slow-moving and thick legs and a viscous quality that hints at the depth of its flavors

Smell – Pronounced ripe jammy red cherries and blueberries and cassis, with youthful fruit flavors that are complemented by soft bacon and a slight herbaceousness. After some time breathing a hint of lavender emerges

Feel – Feather-light and round on the entry, then gently dry and grippy at the mid-palate with medium tannic structure that leads to a full and chewy mouthfeel, with a slight herbaceous minerality that lingers on the tongue

Taste – Concentrated big fruit flavors of dark mixed berries, pomegranate and dark cherry, with solid but not overdone oak, followed by hints of leather, soft black pepper and a subtle hint of bacon

Finish – Solid and long finish with tart fruit, lingering oak and a tart fruitiness

Conclusion – This is a very impressive Syrah that makes us stand up and take keen notice of this newly-discovered winery. This is a happy and youthful Syrah that is ready to drink now, and will certainly improve with some time in your cellar. This is a bright wine, but it also has a richness to it, without being too overbearing. With jammy flavors, a tender up-front mouth feel that eventually leads to the wines more serious side, this complex wine is a sheer delight to drink. I am so pleased to have found this great wine – from such a great wine family!

Winemaker Interrogation:

Agent Red was able to spend a few minutes with Phoenix Family winemaker, Richard Phoenix. What follows is a transcript of their talk:

RICHARD PHOENIX: Hey, Red, good to see you!

AGENT RED: Thanks, Richard. Beautiful vineyard you have here. The grapes look great. Nice oblong clusters, color change has finished. How is harvest-planning coming along?

RICHARD: Well, the fruit that survived the frost is looking really great. Our grape customers, Failla and Whetstone will have their full yield this year. We only lost about 35% of our overall crop as a result of the frost, but the quality is great.

RED: So, the customers that you grow for get all the fruit they expected. Does that mean that you’ll have a smaller Phoenix Ranch wine production this year?

RICHARD: Exactly. We’ll produce about 90 cases, which will make our 2008 vintage even more precious than previous vintages, but we won’t raise the price. We’ll just sell out even faster than usual!

RED: How long have you been in the wine game, Richard?

RICHARD: Gosh, more than 20 years now. And I’ve been around the business since I was a kid, farming this vineyard with my dad.

RED: You’ve worked in almost every aspect of the business, right?

RICHARD: I see you’ve done your spying! Yeah, I have worked in wine retail, in some of the best restaurants, a distributor and as a grower.

RED: And then, finally, as a wine producer… What’s your philosophy of winemaking?

RICHARD: It may sound cliche, but great wines really do begin in the vineyards. We harm five and a half acres of some of the finest Syrah, on land that could not be better suited, using the techniques – and love – that combine guarantee incredible wines.

RED: Tell me about your 2005 Syrah.

RICHARD: We combine fruit from two different Syrah clones, each imbuing the wine with their uniqueness… One drives the stellar flavors and the other delivers beautiful aromatics. This is a full-bodied but very balanced wine.

RED: Well, I’m a big fan! Thanks for the tour of the vineyard. Its was fun hanging out with you today, and thanks for letting us be the ONLY online retailer in the world to carry your great wine!!

RICHARD: Thanks, Agent Red! Tell your Operatives we don’t have very much of this wine. They’ll want to get their hands on some – before we drink it all up ourselves!

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

The 2005 growing season was extremely warm and produced wines with serious fruit and texture. The 2005 Syrah is darker and more complex than the 2004. Similar to the 2003 and the 2004 the 2005 displays the ripe blueberry and currant fruit with notes of lavender and jasmine on the nose. Hues of black pepper and sweet bacon round out the nose and give tribute to the wines of the Northern Rhone. On the palate the wine opens up with dark fruit and plumb with a touch of roasted meat and white pepper. It is full bodied with rich velvety tannins. The wine is bottles unfiltered.

About The Winery:

Back in 1996, Richard, Brian and Janet Phoenix began a small project in Napa Valley called Phoenix Ranch. With the help of several friends in the wine industry, the Phoenix Phamily planted 5 acres of Syrah in 1998 and a half acre of Viognier in 2002 at the base of Atlas Peak.

The original plan was to farm distinctive Syrah grapes to sell to small local artisanal wineries and not make any wine ourselves. In 2001, Ehren Jordan of Failla Wines produced the first vintage of Syrah from the Phoenix Ranch Vineyard and received 89 points from Robert Parker. He has continued to craft outstanding wines from the vineyard ever since.

In 2003 the desire to make our own wine was too great. We enlisted the help of a good friend and outstanding winemaker, Cathy Corison, to make our first Phoenix Ranch Syrah. The wines are crafted to pay homage to the old world Syrahs produced in the northern Rhone of France, displaying an elegance and connection to the soil. The minerality is balanced by the full bodied fruit that the California sun provides.

In 2003 and 2004 we produced only 150 cases of Syrah each year. In 2005 we more than doubled our production to 425 cases of Syrah. In 2006 we made our first Viognier, only 75 cases. The Syrah and Viognier are unique artisanal wines and we will continue to hand craft these wines each year. We are pleased to release the 2003 Syrah, 2004 Syrah and 2006 Viognier. We are super excited about these wines, so please place your order before Brian and Janet drink them all!

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