Bonny Doon "X Block" Syrah 2011
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Bien Nacido in Santa Maria Valley is a very tony neighborhood, vitaceously speaking. It's the winemakers (unproven) theory that the clone of Syrah planted in the X-block (the "Estrella River" clone) may in fact be identical to "Serine", the aromatic Syrah variant of Côte Rôtie. The rub is that Serine only really expresses its unique qualities when grown on very cool sites, which, of course, very accurately describes Bien Nacido.
An exceptionally cool and elegant vintage, this bottling shows off the typical smoked meat/bacon fat character that typifies Bien Nacido. In recent vintages, they've included a more substantial percentage of whole cluster fruit in this wine, and the stem inclusion does add rather nicely to the structure of the wine and perhaps an enhanced degree of herbal spiciness. Very peppery and minty, with excellent fresh acidity (another trademark of Bien Nacido Syrah), rich dark fruit, and moderate but firm tannins. Immense savoriness (somewhat of a Bonny Doon signifier), with an exotic herbal element, that rather subjectively reminds me a bit of chimichurri. This wine calls out (bleats?) for roasted lamb.
Note Well: The wine is exceptionally locked up (closed for business) for several minutes after opening, and will benefit enormously from decanting or even just sitting a half hour in a large glass; this is a great portent of the wine’s great aging potential. A most successful vintage for Bien Nacido Syrah.