What We Say 2004 Russian River Valley Syrah
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
Today’s Russian River Valley Syrah is well worthy of your consideration and celler. Treat yourself to a delicious, deep and elegant Syrah that is perfect for your holiday celebrations – and beyond
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Mission Codename: The streetlights of Eternity
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Starry Night Winery, a Wine Spies Operative favorite. This time, recover their fabled 2004 Russian River Syrah
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Starry Night Winery
Wine Subject: 2004 Russian River Syrah
Winemaker: Wayne Hansen
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 serious Syrah is a bold Russian River Valley delight with rich, delicious flavors, deep aromatics and a perfect mouth feel. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report below.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Intensely dark garnet with purple edges, with thick legs that start at varied levels before running quickly down the glass
Smell – Pronounced ripe jammy raspberry, sweet blueberry and youthful fruit aromatics of bright cherry and blackberry, accompanied by mild earthen components and fresh lavender
Feel – Lush, complex and a little round on the entry, then softly dry and grippy at the mid-palate with solid tannic structure that leads to a full and slightly chewy mouthfeel, with a slight peppery minerality that lingers on the tongue
Taste – Concentrated layers of big fruit flavors with dark mixed berries, smoky dark cherry and soft fresh thyme, with soft oak, followed by hints of mild leather and black pepper, mildest tobacco and subtle hint of dried meat
Finish – A solid, medium firm and lingering-long finish with sweet fruit, soft minerals, mildest sweetwoods and soft spice
Conclusion – This is a deeply impressive Syrah that validates our love for Starry Night Winery. This handcrafted wine is a big, juicy and bold Syrah that is exciting and refreshing to drink. With a bold balance of dark fruits and bright acidity, this near-perfect Syrah makes for a perfect pairing companion or an elegant solo-sipper. I enjoyed a glass on its own, and another with a Greek salad accompanied by a rich meat pizza. The wine not only held its own with this strong (and strange?) pairing, but it also enhanced the flavors of the meal. Neither the wine nor the food bossed the other around. If you are looking for a very flexible and very delicious wine, please consider this my very hearty endorsement of today’s exceptional wine – from our friends at Starry Night Winery.
Consider this: We are very choosy about the wines that we show here. The vetting process is arduous and, more and more, we are turning wines away – if they do not meet or exceed our already high expectations.
Today’s wine comes to us from our friends at Starry Night Winery. When we first tasted their wines, they simply blew us away. We knew that a protracted screening would not be necessary. In such cases, we infiltrate the winery with extreme prejudice – and, most of the time, we come away victorious with cases of wine to share with you.
Starry Night proved a difficult target, however. It seemed that they had their own vetting to do. Long story short, after an extended get to know ya phase, we agreed that we should conduct a mission together. Today, we recognize Starry Night Winery as producing some of the finest wines we have tried.
Today I am thrilled to bring you Starry’s astoundingly great 2004 Russian River Syrah. This wine is a beautifully balanced and deeply delicious wine. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we here at Wine Spies H.Q. have.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Starry Night Winery, which you can visit by appointment only, can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Starry Night Winery
Awards and Accolades:
Gold Medal – 2008 Orange County Fair Wine Competition
Gold Medal – 2008 SF Chronicle Wine Competition
About This Wine:
Our 2004 Russian River Valley Syrah is made from grapes grown in the rolling hills above the Russian River. The area is marked by long warm days and cool refreshing nights, and the fruit from this region is rich, bright and intense. Our 2004 Russian River Syrah was produced using traditional winemaking methods that included the use of small open top fermenters and hand punch downs of the fermenting grapes.
The result is a wine with bright fresh fruit flavors including red cherries, blueberries and raspberries with hints of lavender.
About The Winery:
Starry Night Winery became a bonded winery in 1999 and our first commercially available wines were introduced in November of 2000. The story of how we came into existence though starts many years earlier when the four of us, Wayne Hansen, Bruce Walker, Mike Miller and Skip Granger started making wine at an amateur level. Our motivation for this came from a shared life long passion for wine and an increasing disdain for the over priced and often mass-produced wines found in the market.
In our first year we crushed several hundred pounds of grapes and produced about fifty cases of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in Wayne’s basement. This worked well since with his food processing background, Wayne was destined to become our winemaker. By combining the best of both new and traditional methods we found that we could make outstanding wine. We also spent time researching wine making methods, taking classes at UC Davis and received the advice of some very helpful commercial winemakers.
We are excited to announce that as of December, 2006, Nimrod Kovacs, a citizen of Hungary and the US, joined the management team of Starry Night Winery. Mr. Kovacs has a substantial background in both domestic and international marketing, communications, advertising and management. He has also been instrumental in the growth of cable and satellite media delivery in Eastern and Central Europe. Nimrod is the owner of Monarchia Winery of Eger, Hungary, the new sister winery of Starry Night Winery! You can learn more about Monarchia Winery in the Newsletter section or in the Links & Associations section of the website.
At Starry Night Winery, our goal is to produce the finest wines possible that accentuate the regions from where the grapes are best grown. We currently produce Chardonnay, Syrah and Zinfandels from the Russian River Valley, a Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley, Zinfandel from Amador and Lake Counties and Zinfandel and Rhone varietals from the Lodi appellation. In 2006 we also produced a Petite Sirah from the Lodi appellation and a Cabernet Franc from High Valley which will be released during 2007.
Many people ask us why we are in Novato and what kind of grapes do we grow there? Well; we don’t grow any grapes. What we do is find the best grapes and growers that allow us to produce the finest wines. We have now worked with one of our growers for nine harvests and two of our growers for six harvests. We have added seveal new growers in the last three years and we are very excited about sharing our new wines and new releases with you!
Our primary focus at Starry Night Winery is Zinfandel, which accounts for over 60% of our production. We think Zinfandel, which is uniquely American, is not only a great wine, but also offers a significant value when compared to many other grape varietals. In 2001 we became a member of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP), which promotes Zinfandel education worldwide. Bruce currently serves as Vice President of ZAP and is a member of ZAP’s Board of Directors.
We are also excited by Rhone varietals, which we believe are making significant gains in popularity. We make a Russian River Syrah, and in 2001 introduced our Adara, which is a blend of wines made from grapes found in the Rhone region of France. Because we love Chardonnay, we also produce a barrel fermented, 100% malolactic, and well balanced Chardonnay.
The vastness of Sonoma County with its diverse climate and topography allows growers to produce grapes for distinct wines from the same grape variety. Various areas are known by Appellations. Appellations reflect unique climate, soil and other conditions which tend to produce wines unique to those areas.
With the best combination of natural resources and climate, Starry Night Winery’s key viticulture philosophy is to maintain a small berry size to more concentrated fruit. Our grapes realize bud break often several weeks earlier than other Sonoma Country Wineries, promoting a longer growing season. The rocky soils, comprised of silt loam on top of broken shifts allow the vineyards to deplete water early in the season so there is greater concentration in the berry by the time of harvest.
Our viticulture practices also reflect our desire to put forth optimal flavor in all of our wines. These practices sophisticated trellising system, over cropping early in the season then thinning later in the season to contribute to pH and acid balance and promote higher skin surface to grape ratio.
Composition: 100% Syrah
Cooperage: Combination of American and French oak barrels.
Harvest Date: October 19, 2004
Sugar at Harvest: 26.5 brix
TA: .681 g/100ml
Production: 335 cases