What We Say 2004 Amador County Reserve Syrah
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Mission Codename: Multi-Gold in them thar hills
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Procure a stellar Old Vine Zinfandel
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Scott Harvey Wines
Wine Subject: 2004 Syrah Amador County
Winemaker: Scott Harvey
Nestled in California’s once gold-rich Sierra Foothills, the Amador County AVA (American Viticultural Area) has been called California’s last great undiscovered wine growing region. With vineyards that date back to the 19th Century, this region is home to some of the oldest vines in the state. Today, Amador County produces some of the best Syrahs and Zinfandels in the state. Today’s wine is the best example of a great Amador Syrah. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep burgundy in color, with a deep and inky heart with intense color concentration right to the edges. When swirled, this wine shows a loose and springy surface that settles quickly, leaving behind skinny legs that move down the glass at a medium pace
Smell – Deep blueberry, blackberry, smoky plum and sweetwoods. Dark and dusky, this wine exudes follow-on aromatics of dried sweet leaves, salt and fine spice
Feel – Very light at the front of the palate, then soft and slightly dry with fine tannins on the mid-palate – and finally, it dries your lips
Taste – Delicious, sweet and softly smoky, with initial bright flavors of dark mixed berries, soft vanilla, soft oak, licorice and mixed spice
Finish – Long and bold and big on flavor, this wine starts bright with rich fruit, then tails off with a slight salty licorice flavor that is delicious
Conclusion – A great wine that is interesting and complex! Big, bright, bold, rich and delicious, this Syrah pleases us on many different levels. Amador is a wine region that continues to amaze us with rich wines of distinctive feel and flavors. This special wine from our friends at Scott Harvey wines is very original and very pleasurable treat.
Previous Mission Recap:
What follows is a recap of Agent Red’s original encounter with today’s winery:
I recently took my son, mini-agent Agent Juice Box, up to the Sierra Foothills. The idea was to spend some quality Spy-son time together, hiking the varied terrain, enjoying the outdoors, and even trying out hands at some gold panning.
We had a wonderful time and the fresh air and time away did wonders for our spirits. While up there, I had vowed to unplug from the world of wine, and focus, instead, of having a great non-wine time. I believed that such a thing was possible and I did pretty good. For the most part.
You see, while trekking through Amador County, we kept passing vineyard after vineyard. Of course, I knew of this region as a superior wine growing region for rich, extracted reds like Syrah, Zinfandel and Cab, but I had never given the region its due investigation.
Every time my eyes locked on a vineyard or a winery sign, Agent Juice Box would rein me back in. “Uh uh, Dad. We’re on vacation, remember?” This phrase was repeated more than once, and I did manage to heed this wise young agents advice. I did, however make a few small mental notes of vineyards and wineries to investigate later.
The vacation over, the both of us spent but relaxed, we reflected on the journey. “Good times, Dad. Have you conducted any Amador wine research yet?”
That was all the ‘permission’ I needed. Together we recalled what we had seen and we jumped into the Wine Spies W.I.N.E. (Wine Internet Nexus Engine) databases to put together a few mission plans.
My first mission was to Scott Harvey Wines, where I discovered today’s incredible Zinfandel – and some really amazingly great people. Scott, a veteran winemaker and his wife Jana, who ‘runs the joint’, are warm, deeply experienced and wonderful folks.
Scott, a former partner of Folie a Deux Winery, is widely recognized as one of Amador County’s most experienced modern winemakers. Today he makes elegant wines, where others from the region can tend to be overly concentrated, from wines that predate prohibition.
Today’s is not just a great Amador County Syrah, it is a great Syrah!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the vineyard where this wine was born is classified, but you can see Amador County in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Scott Harvey Wines
Awards & Accolades:
92 Points – ‘EXCEPTIONAL’ – Beverage Tasting Institute
5 GOLD MEDALS!
About This Wine:
Aromas of blackberry, cedar, blueberry and sweet light oak introduce fresh, bright, spicy flavors of the same laced with firm tannin that carry through the long finish.
Produced in a rich, dark fruit forward style. Aged in French oak cooperage to develop a well rounded wine with firmly structured tannins.
Vineyard Notes: 57% grown in the mountainous York Syrah Vineyard of Fiddletown, Amador County. This vineyard is a steep rocky volcanic southwest facing slope. The balance (43%) is from Lani Vineyard in the Shenandoah Valley. Lani Vineyard is also a steep rocky slope, but it faces west and the soil is of decomposed granite. The Fiddletown appellation brings in the low pH to give the wine a good backbone and age ability while the Shenandoah appellation adds to the mouth feeling center palate.
Production Notes: Extremely low yields from these highly stressed mountain vineyards produce first growth quality fruit. Harvest was early in 2004 with a smaller than average crop. Grapes came in with small bunches and berry size allowing for a more extractive vintage.
About The Winery:
Scott Harvey Wines are made of the best varietals from the terroir of Amador County, California. These worldly wines include an Old Vine Zinfandel, a Syrah (Rhone), a Barbera (Italian) and a Port (Portuguese). Scott’s roots are in Amador County which has allowed him to develop considerable expertise with these varietals.
Growing up in California’s Sierra Mountains Region, Scott developed a keen interest in winemaking as a high school exchange student in the Rhineland Pfalz region of Germany. Scott attended California State University at Sacramento before beginning practical Enology training at Montevina Winery in Amador County. Back to Germany in 1975, he apprenticed at K. Fitz-Ritter Winery while attending the Weinbau Schule in Neustadt. Once again returning to Montevina Winery, Scott focused on all aspects of winemaking and running a winery. From farming the grapes to effectively marketing the wine, Scott solidified his knowledge and experience. In 1978, at the age of twenty-three, Scott took over as Head Winemaker for Story Winery, also in Amador County.
In 1979 Scott developed an ambitious winery plan for the Santino family. As Winemaker and General Manager of Santino Winery, Scott is credited with placing Amador County firmly on the California wine map. Crafting the best wines possible from the soils and climatic conditions of the region, Santino and later Renwood benefited from Scott’s German training and innovative style. Becoming one of the leading wineries in Amador County, and garnering critical acclaim, the wine world was paying attention. Amador County was now recognized as a world-class wine-growing appellation.
In 1996, Scott was recruited as Partner, Winemaker & President for newly purchased, Folie a Deux Winery in Napa Valley. Combining forces with Lead Partner, renowned Winemaker, Richard Peterson, Ph.D, a formidable winemaking team was launched. Scott pursued his commitment to award-winning Cabernets made from the Estate Vineyards in Napa Valley while continuing his passion for Amador County Zinfandel. Access to Scott’s original Grandpère vineyard in Amador County and close relationships with premier Amador County growers, resulted in award-winning wines all around for Folie a Deux. In addition, Scott’s creation, the “Menage a Trois” line of wines, was an instant commercial success. In 2004, Folie a Deux, now a respected brand, was sold to Sutter Home/Trinchero Winery. Scott was finally positioned and ready to start his own venture, and he had the ideal partner – his wife, Jana, a wine industry veteran.
Scott Harvey Wines, the initial line of wines in the “Creative Wine Concepts” portfolio, was created out of market demand for Scott’s wines – “niche wines that over deliver.” The Scott Harvey line focuses on Scott’s roots – Zinfandel, Syrah and Barbera from the Sierra’s. Approachable, food friendly and full of luscious fruit, these wines have struck a cord in the marketplace. Scott has hit his stride with his new mantra – “Scott Harvey Wines, it’s time!” Stay tuned – this is just the beginning!
Wine Type: Bold Red Wine
Appellation: Amador County
Aging: 17 months French Oak
Residual Sugar: <.2%