Dark ruby, but completely transparent and an abrupt pink edge. All the stemmy briar, peat, and horse-stall funk you can stand oozes straight out of it without apology, dirty and roiled in sweaty barnyard, manure and that leaky faucet poking out of the bloodshot boards at the end that leaves a muddy puddle the cats drink out of when the dogs aren’t watching. So much soil and pith, concentrated berry, vanilla tobacco, dark soy sauce, and the pang of cream-cheese frosting can only muddle their way to the surface. But, like the dark color that is transparent, this fruit also is concentrated in a way that is formidable, but zangy and agile.

These are tiny production wines, maybe a barrel or two?–I think he still uses a basket press!–sourced from the coolest of the cool-climate sources of grapes in California. This syrah comes from Stolo Vineyard, dry-farmed on a steep little south-eastern hillside backing up to practically ocean views way up in Cambria, California (go to Paso Robles and turn West, pass all the wineries and vineyards and keep driving). Think: Hearst Castle. Yields are BEYOND minuscule, but every wine you manage to find from there is NAILS.

It’s always interesting how a wine like this actually TASTES. Rich and mouth-filling on entry, thinning briefly as all that fruit again convinces you it is light-on-its-feet. Sharp cherry and the prettiest floral perfume you ever licked off a soft, goose-bumpy part of a girl do a dance on the tongue, icy and crisp and refreshing. But! You KNOW this can’t last long. Remember the nose? Fiery bitterness begins gently swaying in, walnut skins and black tea dregs and splinters from fresh lumber you dug out with your teeth. The still-rich fruit TOWERS over the tannin, creating a phenomenal finish you just can’t shake.

2017 DELMORE Syrah Stolo Vineyard Cambria Central Coast California 13.0

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