2013 Dutton-Goldfield Syrah Cherry Ridge Ranch Russian River Valley, Sonoma County

Herbs and high-pitched cherries; a bright Syrah (not a dark one)

2013 Dutton-Goldfield Syrah Cherry Ridge Ranch Russian River Valley, Sonoma County

The three-acre Cherry Ridge vineyard sits just north of the Petaluma Gap, a cold territory that barely ripens Syrah.* Fruit was harvested on October 9, de-stemmed and cold soaked for five days, and fermented in open top containers. The wine was moved into French oak barriques where it aged for 20 months with two rackings. (Syrah is a reductive variety, so racking is useful to oxygenate the wine as well as pull it off its sediment.)

Perhaps I’m suggestible, but the Cherry Ridge Syrah has a strong cherry character. At the front is a whiff of menthol and mint, while the middle is keynoted by cherry-berry and juice. Pronounced acidity adds lift, and the wine vanishes in a flourish of roses and pepper and strong black tea. There are no violets here, no rare or cured meats. This isn’t a feral Syrah but a shiny one singing in a high register.

Pair it with lighter meats (pork loin, beef tenderloin), dark-meat poultry, herb-flecked vegetarian fare, and (swoon) Alp-style cheeses.

13.8% abv | $50 (sample) 470 cases made

* I’ve recently admired several Gap Syrahs—Pax makes a good one, as does Arnot-Roberts. Wines made with Syrah from Griffin’s Lair Vineyard are particularly compelling.

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