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Syrah is back at Ancient Peaks, and it’s the best we’ve ever made.
Earlier this year, we told you about how winemakers Mike Sinor and Stewart Cameron tasted through all 177 barrels of Syrah from the 2011 vintage. Their goal was to select Syrah for incorporating into our Renegade red blend. But along the way, they also selected four barrels for special treatment and extended aging.
Fast forward to this week’s release of our 2011 “Jackpot” Syrah, which is now available in our tasting room. This is the wine made from those four standout barrels (all French oak, half of them new), and it is the first varietally bottled Syrah we’ve made in three years.
“We set out to produce a Syrah that is loaded with fruit and bigger in style, with a high ‘yummy’ factor but also nice structure,” says Stewart. “It’s opulent in the mouth, with layers of dark berry fruit. On the finish, though, you get the backbone that’s a signature of our estate Margarita Vineyard.”
The 2011 Syrah comes from Block 47 (75%) and Block 43 (25%) at Margarita Vineyard. Block 47 faces the southwest, allowing for enhanced sun exposure and the development of velvety dark fruit flavors. Block 43 is shielded in the afternoon by the adjacent mountain peaks, creating a cooler orientation that nurtures the varietal’s trademark spice and meatiness. Because Margarita Vineyard occupies one of the coolest growing environments in Paso Robles, it allows the Syrah grape to achieve intense varietal expression.
We felt that this wine merited our Jackpot designation, which is reserved for exclusive one-off bottlings that are exemplary of varietal, vineyard and vintage. We invite you to stop by during your next Paso Robles wine tasting tour and enjoy a taste of this standout Syrah.
Also, we are excited to donate $12 per case sold of our 2011 Syrah to MUST Charities, which is dedicated helping nonprofit organizations succeed and make a difference in the local community of northern San Luis Obispo County.
The rare diversity of soils at our estate Margarita Vineyard is something we talk about frequently. It’s part of the fabric of our wines—a point of differentiation that defines our sense of place. And if you can’t get excited about a wine’s sense of place, then you’re missing perhaps the most vital aspect of wine appreciation!
Margarita Vineyard lies along the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains between two fault zones, where ongoing geologic upheaval has blessed the land with a striking mix of soils. Walking around the vineyard, you will find fields of flaky shale, slopes of fine sediment and expanses of calcareous ancient sea bed riddled with oyster fossils. Granitic and volcanic soils are also present.
While we can’t say that the mineral content of a certain soil type fosters a specific flavor (such as blackberry, blueberry, etc.), we do know that soil type has a bearing on the available nutrients and how those nutrients are taken up, as well as moisture retention and root zone development. These and other soil factors do have a significant impact on the resulting fruit and wine, in terms of texture, fruit intensity, flavor profile and tannin profile; and these factors shift as you transition from sedimentary soils to calcareous soils to shale soils.
The differences in the resulting wines are obvious to our winemakers, Mike Sinor and Stewart Cameron. They like to say that the varied soils give them more “colors” to paint with when it comes to assembling final blends, allowing them to build natural complexity and dimension into a single estate-grown wine.
Starting with the 2013 vintage, we are taking these observations to a more experimental level. Mike and Stewart chose fruit from three separate Cabernet Sauvignon blocks rooted in three distinct soil types, all picked at the same ripeness. As Mike explains in the video above, each of these small Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon lots is now being made with the same winemaking and aging practices. This will give us a more controlled opportunity to compare the effects of the soils and to share our discoveries with you down the line. Stay tuned!
P.S. If you want to see some of these soils firsthand, including the sea bed with oyster fossils, come out for one of our Paso Robles winery tours.
The Paso Robles Inn recently had a brilliant idea, and we are honored to be a part of it…
Indeed, the inn has unveiled a wing of 18 winery-themed spa rooms, with each room decorated by a local Paso Robles winery. So now, Room 1005 at the Paso Robles Inn is known as the Ancient Peaks Winery deluxe mineral spa room.
Our room’s décor includes historic photos and vineyard shots, soil samples from our estate Margarita Vineyard (pictured above, along with a wall hanging showing our affiliated Margarita Adventures zipline tours), an outdoor barrel table and a complete Margarita Vineyard grapevine mounted to the wall. In the weeks ahead, we will be adding more elements that speak to our winery as well as the history of Santa Margarita Ranch. Guests who stay in the room also receive two vouchers for a glass of Ancient Peaks wine at the inn’s restaurant.
We feel that this is a really exciting and interactive way to not only help tell the story of Ancient Peaks, but also the larger story of the Paso Robles region’s reputation for wine, travel and hospitality.
Many people come to Paso Robles to visit the wine country—and now we are taking the wine country to them at the Paso Robles Inn!
Click here to learn about all of the participating wineries and to book your own winery room at the Paso Robles Inn. We can't think of a more fitting place to stay during a Paso Robles wine tasting getwaway.
The phrase “old vines” has become a bit overused in the wine industry, but when it comes to some of the vines at our Santa Margarita Ranch, the term is truly fitting. Indeed, pictured here is a vine whose roots may extend all the way back to the late 1700s. Here’s the story…
This wild vine is located in a creekbed near the ranch’s “Asistencia” building, which was established by Franciscan missionaries in the 1770s. We know that the padres planted grapevines here, both for the sacrament and their regular diet (in fact, records show that one of the padres here was excommunicated for selling wine to the Russians!).
Here’s where the story takes some detective work. We have a photo from the 1880s showing a small vineyard adjacent to the Asistencia, and the trunks of the vines are quite thick—indicating that they’d been planted there decades before the photo was taken. We also have a photo of the adobe ranch house from the same period, showing a vine trellis that is still growing there today.
We had cuttings from the creekbed vine tested and compared with cuttings from the ranch house vine trellis, and confirmed that they are the same species—so it’s safe to say that both originated from that old vineyard photographed in the 1880s. The question is: when was that vineyard planted? Is it the original Mission vineyard from the late 1700s? It very well could be.
Regardless, we theorize that at some point, the vineyard was ripped out, with at least some of the vines tossed over into the adjacent creekbed, where one of them took root. Today, this wild vine extends nearly 60 feet, looping and winding along the ground and up into the trees. It is a remarkable sight to behold.
At the very least, we’re looking at a wild vine that is more than 150 years old, reaching back all the way to the formative days of early California.
P.S. You can learn more about Santa Margarita Ranch and Margarita Vineyard during one of our Saturday vineyard tours.