2012 Sonnie's Edna Valley Syrah
Syrah •Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard
California: San Luis Obispo: Edna Valley
Que 'Qupé' Syrah, Syrah
Double Agent Tuesday a la Qupé!
As we feared, that Watkins Crinella Pinot did not last long. So, what’s the best prescription for Pinot blues? Que Syrah, Syrah how about a Qupé Syrah?! When we ran a marathon just a couple of weeks ago with one extraordinary library release Qupé Syrah Magnum after another all were all gone in a day. Each time we featured any Qupé Syrah, we blinked, and it disappeared as if a magic act. Poof!
This double 93-pointer 2012 Sonnie’s Edna Valley Syrah in good ole 750s, and AT $22 is yet another unreal Qupé deal. It hails from the glorious, Demeter Certified Biodynamic® Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County, a good 30 miles northwest of the winery in Santa Maria Valley. The proximity to the Pacific (like 5 minutes from Pismo Beach!) is the key ingredient here bringing the natural cooling influence into the wines. This wine has always been special to Bob Lindquist as the vineyard was named after his wife Louisa Sawyer-Lindquist and the wine is an homage to his mother Sandra ‘Sonnie’ Granger Lindquist.
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.
Here’s what the wine press has to say:
93 Points – Wine Enthusiast - “Bob Lindquist shows his mastery of cool-climate fruit with this bottling, which is redolent of asphalt, cracked black pepper, rosemary, lavender and damson plum. It’s fairly light in body but strong in tarry structure, offering loads of cracked peppercorn flavor with its juicy purple fruit.”
93 Points – Wine & Spirits - “An annual selection of the best barrels off of the hilly, gravelly site that Bob Lindquist planted in 2005, Sonnie’s bursts with refreshing, detailed fruit in 2012, the flavors as dark and juicy as mulberries and black plums yet lively and mouthwatering, holding tightly to the stony cool of its structure. It’s pretty irresistible now, but has an effortless balance that will allow it to age gracefully.”
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.”
Ruby red, black, blue and purple, still youthful in appearance.
Redolent of asphalt, cracked black pepper, rosemary, lavender, and damson plum.
It’s fairly light in body but strong in tarry structure.
Loads of cracked peppercorn flavor with its juicy purple fruit.
Bob Lindquist shows his mastery of cool-climate fruit, so it’s highly versatile!
What the Winery Says
- Bob Lindquist
- 100% Syrah
- Edna Valley, San Luis Obispo County
- 370 feet
- 30% whole clusters
- 16 months
- 50% new French oak by Ermitage and Francois Freres
- 8 barrels