2008 'X Block' The Good Nacido Syrah Magnum
Syrah •Bien Nacido Vineyard
California: Santa Barbara County: Santa Maria Valley
The X Factor
Get ready to be stunned. We’re still trying to recover from the shock. It’s not easy. How many times in life does one encounter a wine offer from original winery stock that has never left its cellar, that originally was a great buy even at a $200 retail price.
Still black and purple in the core with the slightest bricking on the narrow rim showing development. Sweet on the entry with dried blackberries, savory in the middle with black olives and spicy on the back end with black pepper, all that together in one, unified seamlessly. It explodes with richness on the palate while practicing elegance and restraint, with juicy acidity and racy complexity. The finish? What finish! This graceful beast just does not know how to quit until a next sip and the bottle’s gone. It’s in a miraculous sweet spot today and tastes like it’ll hang there for years to come. While infinitely fascinating on its own, this Syrah would seriously shine with a pit-roasted game feast.
Among connoisseurs and collectors, Qupé and Bob Lindquist as the genius behind it, are LEGENDS. In his award-winning 2016 book “American Rhône: How Maverick Winemakers Changed the Way Americans Drink” Patrick Comiskey extensively praises Bob Lindquist’s Qupé legacy as one of the founders of a new generation of wine that defines California today. In a recent article, The Santa Barbara Independent writes; “no vintner has done more to pioneer the promise of Santa Barbara County and promote restrained winemaking in the traditionally exuberant New World than Bob Lindquist” and this flagship masterpiece of his is a testament to those well-chosen, well-deserved words.
What about the X Block X Factor? If this Syrah were a steak, it’d be the center cut of a tenderloin, with which it would pair divinely well by the way. Bien Nacido is a tenderloin, one of the highest regarded vineyards in California, and beyond as it was named amongst the “Top 25 Vineyards in the World” by Wine & Spirits magazine. So, think of X Block as the center cut within the tenderloin. It is widely acclaimed as the “first cool-climate Syrah planted in California” with fruit so limited that on an average harvest it makes less than 90 cases. It is so sought after that each vintage no more than 3-4 wineries are granted an allocation. In vintages that are worthy of an X Block designate, Qupé makes just 3 barrels and therefore is the first wine to sell out in the lineup.
Here’s what the wine press has to say:
94 Points, Cellar Selection – Wine Enthusiast - “This bottling is the winery’s most expensive wine, and usually its best. Production of the ‘08 was unusually low, resulting in amazing concentration. It’s basically a detonation of cherries, raspberries, currants, cola and mocha. New oak is present, in the form of delicate toast and wood spice, but is balanced. So silky and delicious now, you can drink it, but the tannic balance suggests the cellar. Will evolve over the next 12 years, maybe longer.”
93+ Points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate - “A gorgeous bottle of wine, the 2008 Syrah Bien Nacido X Block 30th Anniversary was made with 100% whole cluster and aged roughly 20 months in 60% new French oak. Deep and layered, with meaty, masculine aromas and flavors of blackberry, coffee bean, smoked meats and olive tapenade, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, big tannin and integrated acidity. Give it 2-3 years and enjoy through 2026.”
Syrah’s Steady Hand - Santa Barbara Independent - “Syrah, the varietal originally perfected in France’s Rhône valley that — depending on where and how it’s grown — can be crafted to show off savoriness and spice or ignited into the juiciest fruit-bomb imaginable. Those dueling identities have been part of Syrah’s problem, but Bob Lindquist, the fourth person in the state to ever make wine from the grape, has kept a steady hand on the Old World–style wheel, repeatedly relying on the cool climate of the Central Coast to produce Syrahs that favor acidity over sweetness, pepper over cherries, and intrigue overindulgence.
“The consumers were confused: Is it supposed to taste like Côte-Rôtie or Yellow Tail Shiraz?” said Lindquist of the glut eras, which came from overplanting and overcharging before winemakers understood how to handle it properly. “I had the good sense to specialize in cool-climate Syrahs, and there’s no place better than the south Central Coast.”
A Southern Californian since age 11 and rabid Dodgers fan, Lindquist started his career in the wine business in 1975, and he arrived in the Santa Ynez Valley on New Year’s Day 1979 to manage a Los Olivos tasting room. Fired for going to a Kinks show, Lindquist landed a job as Zaca Mesa’s first tour guide — and, there, befriended Jim Clendenen, then assistant winemaker at the historic winery. That was way before Sideways, which meant very few tourists and lots of time in the cellar with Clendenen, Ken Brown, and Tolmach, which meant the birth of Qupé Wines in 1982.
“It was a great place for learning,” said Lindquist of his days at Zaca Mesa with Clendenen and the two other legends. “We were all in it together, pioneering Santa Barbara County, learning the climate, and learning the grapes and how to handle them.”
Qupé’s production of mostly Syrah and Chardonnay steadily grew. By the late 1980s, he needed a permanent home, which is when he and Clendenen hatched the still-standing deal with Bien Nacido. “They were looking for young and up-and-coming winemakers to align themselves with,” said Lindquist, “and that was us.” In 1989, he made 8,000 cases and had started using other Rhône varietals also, including the white wine grapes Viognier and Marsanne, of which he was California’s first producer and is still one of the few that do the often heavy and oily grape in a more acidic style.
Qupé — the Chumash word for “poppy” — makes 40,000 cases per year, half of which is a Central Coast Syrah blend, but which also includes special bottlings that fetch close to $100 each, like the 2008 X Block Syrah, the designated 30th-anniversary wine. “I consider ourselves the market leaders of fine California Syrah,” he explained. “All along, we’ve kept this path of balanced wine with structure and acidity. It hasn’t been without challenges, but we’re managing to hold our own and keep going.” It always comes back to the spell that Syrah placed on Lindquist three decades ago.”
Still black and purple in the core with the slightest bricking on the narrow rim showing development.
Sweet with dried blackberries, savory with black olives and spicy with black pepper, all that together.
Explodes with richness while practicing elegance and restraint, with juicy acidity and racy complexity.
What finish? This graceful beast just does not know how to quit until a next sip and the bottle’s gone.
While infinitely fascinating on its own, this Syrah would seriously shine with a pit-roasted game feast.
What the Winery Says
- Bob Lindquist
- 100% Syrah
- Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County
- 700 feet
- 2.3 tons/acre
- 20 months
- 60% new French oak
- 3 barrels