CA Hermitage

What a shocking Syrah. A ridiculous example of south Northern Rhone wine from Santa Barbara County. I’m going to have to apologize for everything bad I’ve ever said about Ballard Canyon. “Ballard Canyon is the Paso Robles of Santa Ynez Valley” has been a mantra of mine for years. And there’s *some* of that here, but the whole package is a refined, stellar wine, checking ALL the boxes. Purple-ruby, staining and blue-pink-edged, A wad of bottle-funk on opening and decanted. Grimy barnyard: horse-trough and pig-wallow, diesel and dust, tanned leather and roasted rubber in micro-doses, warming the deep berry and dark chocolate, leaving cellar-floor petrichor and glorious weedy briar as background noise. It’s thick and concentrated, but the restraint shown is clairvoyant to obvious palate expectations.

Tasting it confirms all your Hermitage and Cornas goals. Muddy, sweaty warm cherry and dried berry run an elegant course through heady–not quite tropical, not terribly floral–passages. The juxtaposition here is the deliciousness of the fruit: zingy while concentrated; musty while clean; brilliantly buttery and thick while lean and focused. Cinnamon and nutmeg and cardamom accent a perceived sweetness brought on by ripeness but stopping far short of chubby or heat-driven alcoholic California bro-wines. The cherry is firm and crisp, squirting red juice with each crunchy bite. The spice is grounded in Euro-centric ways but not bogged down with extreme earthiness of vegetal.

This is a really complicated wine and an absolute tour de force from this brand new label. The balance and integration of *all things considered* bring it to near-speechless points of awe. Aging potential measured in decades. Buy as much as you can afford if it’s not sold out.

2018 BOLT TO Syrah Ballard Canyon Santa Ynez Valley Santa Barbara Co. California 14.5

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