Since returning from the south of France I’ve been craving the region’s main red varietals: Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Fortunately it’s possible to find these Côtes du Rhône grapes a little closer to home, on California’s Central Coast.
A wine that helped ease the transition back to the American way of life was the 2006 Zaca Mesa Syrah. Full bodied, rich and spicy, it was a delicious way to be welcomed home.
I visited Zaca Mesa during a trip to Central California in June 2009. Located in Los Olivos in Santa Barbara County, the family owned estate vineyard and winery produces mostly Rhône varietals. In the late 1970s Zaca Mesa became the first winery to plant Syrah in Santa Barbara County. Today their 90 acres of Syrah host the oldest Syrah vines on the Central Coast.
The wine is 100% Syrah from the Santa Ynez Valley. It spent 16 months in 30% new French oak and has 15% alcohol by volume.
Deep purple-red, almost black in color, the 2006 Zaca Mesa Syrah has enticing aromas of black fruits, espresso and spice. On the palate are lush, layered flavors of blackberry, cassis, mocha, smoke and a hint of sage. Silky in texture with ripe tannins and a lingering spicy finish, the Syrah is a well-rounded and satisfying sip.
The wine opens up nicely after resting in the glass and should continue to drink well over the next ten years.
Pair the 2006 Syrah with beef, lamb, game, blackened meaty fish, mushrooms or root vegetables.
A bottle of the 2006 Zaca Mesa Syrah costs $23.