Fess Parker Winery
2005 Big Easy Syrah
Santa Barbara County
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s Syrah offering is, well, incredible. We always feature great wines, but when one really stands out, we issue one of these special alerts.
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Mission Codename: Pioneer of the West
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Fess Parker Winery in Barbara County, and procure their stellar Big Easy Syrah
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Fess Parker Winery
Wine Subject: 2005 Fess Parker Syrah – Big Easy – Santa Barbara
Winemaker: Blair Fox
The Wine Spies have been featuring some really incredible Pinot Noir of late, but requests have been pouring in for a Bien Nacido (Santa Barbara County) Pinot Noir – so we sent Agent Red southward to discover the best example he could find. Read his tasting notes and his mission report below to find out how he located today’s incredible Fess Parker Pinot Noir
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deep garnet in color, with a core of dark plum and great color concentration right to the cherry-colored edges. When swirled, this wine shows a tight surface that settles quickly, leaving behind mid-width legs that move down the glass at a medium pace
Smell – Layer upon layer of earthen blueberry, blackberry, smoky plum, dried meats, vanilla custard, subtle bacon and mild peppery spice
Feel – Very soft on entry, then the medium body of the wine shows through as fine tannins on the mid-palate take hold, drying your lips slightly
Taste – Delicious layers of both sweet and softly smoky flavors, with a balance of bright fruit
of dark mixed berries – against a backdrop of soft earthen spice, toast, tender vanilla and soft oak
Finish – Long, bold and big on flavor, this wine starts bright with rich fruit, then tails off with a slight black pepper and smoked meat flavor that is delicious
Conclusion – A fantastic wine that I would call a Syrah lover’s Syrah, for its depth of flavor and aromatics. Complimented by a great mouthfeel and a medium-bodied structure that found me sampling the wine in sips of varying sizes, this wine also also really interesting and fun to drink. Fess Parker and winemaker Blair Fox once again prove themselves to be producers of distinctive and delicious wines.
Below is Agent Red’s original mission report when he first discovered Fess Parker Winery and their Pommard Clone Pinot Noir:
When I was a little Agent, my father took me on a journey through my family history. It was rife with intrigue, unsavory characters, artists, criminals, tales of fortunes won and lost – and even actual spies.
My father’s father, a gentleman professor of romance languages and a student of history, had traced our roots back many generations. The generations which fascinated me the most were those that occupied early American history. The distant relative that held the most fascination was Daniel Boone.
American Folk Hero, explorer, businessman, military man and woodsman, it was Boones role in extending American civilization and his moniker, “the Columbus of the woods”, that interested me most about the man. Or at least the popularized versions of the man. I became an avid student of the Disney series, Daniel Boone, and even took to wearing a coonskin cap. Granted, I was 6 years old.
Many years hence I became a Wine Spy, blazing trails of my own with Wine Spies co-founder, Agent White. White suggested that we were pioneers and that comment triggered memories of long-ago relative, Daniel Boone. A few days later, I rented the Disney series and, as I was watching the credits, spotted a name familiar to me from the wine industry, Fess Parker! Fess played Daniel Boone in the Disney series of the same name.
This revelation led me to call on the winery immediately, declaring to them excitedly that I was ‘related’ to them. When I explained myself, I was met with a somewhat quizzical chuckle. Apparently, they felt that my claim was a bit of a stretch. Imagine that!
Long story short, I made an appointment with the winery, to taste their wines – and I fell in love. Their 2006 Pommard Clone Pinot Noir was particularly wonderful and, right then and there, I secured a cache for our Operatives. With fruit from Bien Nacido and other Santa Barbara appellations, this wine strikes a great balance of serious, fun and sincere – just like Fess Parker himself.
As for Daniel Boone, while he was not perfect by any means, he did blaze trails and he did make important discoveries – just as I try to do with the wines that I spy for you every day, dear Operative…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Fess Parker Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
91 Points-Wine Advocate
About This Wine:
This very rich and velvety concentrated Syrah produces an abundance of bold aromas. A forward bouquet of blackberry, mulberry, blueberry, violet, and vanilla mingles effortlessly with hints of earth, grilled meats, smoke, bacon and black pepper. Flavors of blackberry preserves, blueberry, plum, vanilla, spice, tar and dark chocolate followed by a touch of nutmeg and sweet oak entice the palate. Enough said……you wont be disappointed!
About The Winery:
When Fess Parker was cast in the roll of Davy Crockett in the mid-1950’s, it caused an international sensation and changed his life forever. So too did the purchase of 714 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley change the course of the Parker family’s history.
Realizing the potential of Santa Barbara County as a premium grape-growing region, Fess and his son, Eli, originally set out in 1989 to plant a small vineyard and sell fruit to local producers. But, as Fess’ daughter, Ashley explains, “ Fess is from Texas, so he can’t do anything small. “The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard now farms almost 700 acres on four vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County.
The characters Fess portrayed, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, inspired generations of Americans. Throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s Fess was at the pinnacle of a television career that has an unprecedented impact upon American popular culture. But is was Fess’ entrepreneurial spirit that prompted his leaving Hollywood to go into business for himself. The traits that Crockett and Boone embodied – integrity, resourcefulness and good humor — carried over to Fess’ personal life and formed the foundation upon which the family business was built. First-class hospitality has always been at the core of their ventures, first as hoteliers and eventually with the opening of the winery.
Working as a family has always been a great source of pride and pleasure for the Parker family. Eli Parker began in the family business as assistant winemaker in 1989. After several years of learning the craft at the side of renowned and accomplished winemakers, Eli took the reigns as winemaker himself with the 1995 vintage. A leader of the winery since it’s inception, it was in 1996 that Eli formally assumed the title and responsibilities of President. In the early 1990’s, Ashley ran the first tastings out of the barrel room and represented the winery at trade shows. In 1998, Ashley became Eli’s partner, working on the public relations and sales and marketing teams. The presence of Fess and his wife Marcy as the founding visionaries of the winery is a vital and enduring one.
About The Winemaker:
BLAIR FOX – Head Winemaker – Graduating from UC Davis in 1999 with a combined degree in Viticulture and Enology, Blair Fox gained winemaking experience at Sunstone Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley (1999-2001), and at Haselgrove Winery – a custom-crush winery in McLaren Vale, Australia (2003).
He also traveled through France’s Rhône Valley before returning to his hometown of Santa Barbara. He then joined Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard as Associate Winemaker, overseeing the Rhône varietal wines. Fox had previously consulted in the vineyard for the winery’s 2002 harvest.
“Having focused on the winery’s estate Syrah and Rhône varietal vineyards, I’m excited to add on the responsibility for Ashley’s and Bien Nacido vineyards and control the Burgundian part of our portfolio (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay),” said Fox. “The vineyards and clonal selection here are of such high quality, and the Parkers are a great family to work for.”
Fox continues the stylistic direction set by Eli Parker when capturing the terroir of the vineyards. He aims to continue raising the bar for the award-winning Fess Parker wines, such as the 2001 Rodney’s Vineyard Syrah (91pts, Wine Advocate), 2002 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir (93pts, Wine Spectator), and 2001 American Tradition Reserve Syrah, (92pts, Wine Advocate).*