Wine Club, August 2017
Solminer - 2014 Rubellite Syrah Blend - Santa Ynez Valley, CA
Jean-Louis Chave Selection - 2014 ‘Offerus’ - Saint Joseph, Rhône, FR
Hello again Winestronauts!
We continue this month on our journey into the wine universe. We focus our gaze on the galaxy of Syrah; profound, powerful, and captivating. The syrah plant itself embodies strength: big full blue-hued berry bunches, innate disease resistance, and a penchant for cold weather zones.
Like the other noble grape varietals it adapts to innumerable geographies and performs wonders in many regions. The central coast is one of those fortunate zones with terrific growing sites ranging from the Santa Cruz Mountains, to Paso Robles, and on south to the Santa Rita Hills. There is no shortage of Syrah here and we are incredibly fortunate to host such a special varietal.
While it is comfortable, even world class, here in California, Syrah has it’s primordial roots in the Northern Rhône Valley. No youthful discovery, winemaking here was documented by Pliny as far back as 71 AD and lauded through the middle ages and the great schism of the catholic church in nearby Avignon. A treacherous growing environment with massively steep & ever-eroding hills carved into terraces as old as empires. Dramatic winds whip down the river valley, and frigid winter temperatures are as persistent a threat as any. A spill from some of the steeper vineyards is a recipe for a hospital visit at best. Vines in the north must fight for sunlight, with all the great vineyards planted with preference towards the morning sun, warming the rocky soils through the day. All of this challenging terrain limits growth here… Northern Rhône accounts for just 5% of total Rhône Production. Rare, Intense, Glorious. This is the northern Rhône; This is Syrah.
Solminer - Rubellite 2014 Syrah
Los Olivos, Santa Barbara County, CA
Meet Solminer. A family project by David and Anna Delaski (American and Austrian respectively). David and Anna are mad about wine, about the earth, and about each other. Their young project, Solminer, is based on their 3 acre farm in Los Olivos. With their 3 year old son Linus, they raise dogs, sheep, donkeys, and (primarily) austrian grape varietals. They dare to be different and they make wines that make them happy.
Rubellite is an expression of what makes David and Anna happy. 90% Syrah, 9% Grenache, 1% Riesling… this is an experiment gone wonderfully right. A departure from the local masses of more full bodied, ripe, power house Syrah (think bacon, brawny tannins, high alcohol)... Rubellite is not.
David and Anna treat their Rubellite delicately. With a soft crush to start fermentation and some simple foot trodding, this wine is not a black hole of purple but a radiant, glowing violet. It is simple, it is floral, it is fresh plum and cherry, lifted minerality. It says: “don’t take me serious, take me to the park, drink me in the garden with a pal, pal”
They call it glug-glug wine because that’s how they drink it - GLUG GLUG. I hope you will too.
180 cases produced
$30 @ Satellite SB
JL Chave Selection: ‘Offerus’ St-Joseph 2014
St. Joseph, Northern Rhône, FR
A royal family in the French Wine almanac, the Chave’s have been producing wine in Hermitage, Northern Rhône since 1481… 1481! What? That’s 536 years, 536 harvests, 536 vintages. It’s crazy when the Catholic Church is your closest competition for years of continual wine production.
In the 1970’s Gerard Chave brought the family business into modernity with extraordinarily high quality wines that render into a glass the purest Rhône terroir. Jean Louis, Gerard’s son, has taken over production and expanded on their legendary status with commitment to traditional farming, extremely low yields, and minimal manipulation. Once in the cellar, these wines make themselves. Few winegrowers have so deeply committed themselves to their art, their land, and their work.
This wine is a reference point St-Joseph. 100% syrah, it is an elegant and reserved expression of one of the northern Rhone’s most phenomenal villages. 50% destemmed, fermented partly in huge wood tonneaux,and partly in stainless steel. Aged in barrique and foudre for 18 months. A serious but easily enjoyed Syrah with tightly wound tannins and exceptional structure, this wine can age for years or happily pour today. Spicy, deep fruited, focused, and robust, this is a perfect companion and comparison to the Solminer Rubellite.
$36 @ Satellite SB
Totally different, but familiar. Chave is Grandparent and Solminer is the half Austrian grandkid, on tour in America and just got its first nose ring. Grandpa Chave says, “I’m proud of you, pal, never stop exploring”
Syrah; two ways. This is August at Satellite.