Syrah •Sycamore Flat Vineyard
California: Monterey County
What We Say
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[Welcome to Accolades Week at The Wine Spies! All this week, we’ll be featuring wines that have won awards or high praise from judges and wine writers.]
: : Agent Red Reporting : :
Subject: Peter Figge, winemaker
Wine: 2005 Figge Cellars Syrah
Mission: Investigate Peter Figge to determine whether he is an industry spy or not
Mission Findings: Inconclusive, although he does make incredible wine. See following summary.
Background Summary: At first look at the life of Peter Figge, and it is easy to see why we assumed that he was a deep-cover, long-haul operative whose life was designed to infiltrate the wine industry. Peter’s interest in wine began with his exposure to his father’s (his handler?) 4000-bottle wine collection as a child. If this was a tactic designed to get young Peter interested in wine, it worked.
From that point onward, Peter seemed to be on a singular track, designed to usher him through every level of the industry. From his Biology degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, to his time spent working for Beringer and Grgich it was clear that his life-arc had a certain purpose. This was driven home when, in 1997, Peter earned his Master’s Degree in Viticulture.
For the next 6 years, Peter quietly perfected his trade craft while working as vineyard manager for respected wine powerhouse Estancia Estates Winery. Toward the end of his tenure with Estancia, it became apparent that Peter had aspirations of starting his own winery. It was at this point when a prominent business mogul contracted Figge to develop a state-of-the-art vineyard in the fabled Carmel Valley. Figge agreed, with the understanding that he would have all rights to the fruits tended there.
The pristine Pelio Vineyard is yielding incredible fruit and now serves as the flagship vineyard for Figge Cellars wines.
Peter Figge is now producing exceptional wines and while we have not been able to conclusively prove that he is an industry infiltrator, it is clear that he is on his way to International renown as a winemaker of exceptional talent.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep red hues
Smell – Cherry, blueberry, toasted oak
Feel – Initially wet, with a velvet after-feel.
Taste – Smooth in the mouth, this wine has a happy and inviting character, with fruity cherry, blackberry and casis.
Finish – This wine has a great long finish with juicy flavors and a feel that reminds you of the tannins you just enjoyed.
Conclusion – This 100% Syrah is deep and authentic Rhone-style wine with amazing structure that is fun to drink and discuss. I thoroughly this wine each time I tried it. And believe me, this agent TRIED this wine.
Wine Spies Vineyard Background Check:
Vineyard – Sycamore Flat Vineyard
Robbie Madsen and his family manage this famous vineyard that is planted with Syrah and Cabernet. Located far up the Arroyo Seco Canyon for which the Appellation is named, the vineyard sees a whole different microclimate than its immediate neighbors, especially in terms of temperature and wind.
Fog rolls up the canyon from the Salinas Valley, but burns off early in the morning. Since the vineyard is well up the canyon, the gale force winds that dominate the Salinas Valley vineyard scene don’t hit the site at all, allowing the temperatures to average nearly 10 degrees hotter throughout the growing season. These temperatures are more commonly found further south in Monterey County. This vineyard, in the northern part of the county, cools off in the evening due to its proximity to the ocean influences. The Vineyard is not open to the public, but can be seen in this satellite photo.
Wine Spies Technical Analysis:
Composition: 100% Syrah
Appellation: Monterey County, AVA
Fermentation: 100% Barrel Fermented
Barrels: French Oak
Vineyard: Sycamore Flat Vineyard
Soil Type: calcareous composition deposit with rock and gravel
What the Winery Says
Figge Cellars makes 3 wines: Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay. Our Chardonnay has sold out. Our Syrah and Pinot are on their way to selling out.
Our aim is to make world-class wine. Period.
With this goal in mind, we have found vineyards and growers that have the potential for greatness and then do what we can in the winery to allow each site to express itself fully. We let each separate lot of grapes brought to the winery become its own wine and later choose to accept or reject them for our master blends.
We are pleased to announce that our 2005 vintage wines are ready to enjoy.
2005 SYRAH Tasted Oct. 1, 2006 - This Syrah has a big nose with a blast of blackberry and boysenberry followed by dark coffee and subtle smokey toast notes. The mouth is very fresh and lively and the wine stays open through the finish showing pleasant tannins. (Release date - Spring 2007.)
Wine makers notes: October 15, 2005 - It was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm, but not too hot. The perfect day for harvesting grapes. We ventured out to the Sycamore Flat Vineyard to claim our Syrah and bring it to the winery. At the winery, the sorting table removed any unwanted fruit and leaves and the de-stemmer got rid of stems (aptly named I think, the de-stemmer). Now ready to evolve from fruit to wine, the grapes were poured into our open top fermenters.
Our Syrah endured a 5 day cold soak at 12 degrees Celsius. We inoculated the tank and kept the fermentation temperatures between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius. The wine resided in stainless steel for 3 1/2 weeks between the cold soak, fermentation and maceration. We completed a secondary, malolactic fermentation in barrel. The wine rested in barrels for 11 months prior to bottling.