X Marks the Spot

There’s hardly any way to explain a wine like this. I’ve only had it 2 other times in my life, although I’ve had a half-dozen other Bien Nacido X-Blocks from other producers. Time 1 and 2 were both early-2000 vintages–one a 2005 I drank last year. It was phenomenal. So I was justifiably curious how–or if–the wine had changed in the 10-year gap between those and this bottling. One sniff, one taste and you pretty much go speechless with awe. It is easy to see how THOSE performed so well with age with this relatively young one in the glass. Gorgeous purple-tinged ruby; quite transparent. Campfire smoke and intense briar in the nose, pine needles and rocky soil–a touch of petrichor even: something I don’t think I have ever used outside of Cabernet. Sweet, succulent Goldilocks berry, torn between deep black roasted and bright cheery cherry. An absolute calm of nuances, no sharp edges, no slutty fruit–just perfect flaccid energetic balance in bouquet: at once soothing and glorious/at the same time hinting of far more greatness on the palate.

Then you taste it. And the heavens open. A voice booms as doves descend, cherubic and doe-eyed in rays of…. OK, OK, OK, let’s not get carried away. Ridonculous cherry, black and spritely acidic. Barnyard and cellar-must pluck the old-world strings lightly while the fruit picks a pure Syrah path only touched at in the finest examples from Sonoma Coast or St. Joseph. Dense, bitter berry, seeds ground into white-pepper powder, a touch of brett, the lash of tannin velvet-coated, un-grating and un-clumsy. Sizzle and pizzaz pop on all sides, while dedication to perfection is apparent EVERYWHERE. There is no *huge-ness*. There is no jamminess. There is no stemmy, no heat, no glycerin. There is no young producer trying too hard with trendy vineyards, there are no sages tired at their game with safe AVA’s. But here’s the deal: THAT’S ALL IN THERE. This wine is a storybook of all things Syrah. It’s laughable how perfect this wine is.

This wine is not cheap. But in the grand scheme of what some of you post on your Instagram daily: it is the Bargain of the Decade. At 5, it is nearly a crime to consume this wine: and to murder a bottle short of full potential. And yet, it is so stupidly perfect. And that’s the thing about these Qupés: You read “Drinking great now with potential to age” THOUSANDS of times on the innerwebs daily. These people have no clue what a wine that *drinks gorgeously now with 20 or 30 years of aging potential* actually tastes like. They are judging everything by the ‘Bigger is Better’ rulebook. You drink a wine like THIS and you truly understand.

2014 QUPÉ ‘The Good Nacido’ Syrah Block X Bien Nacido Santa Maria Valley Santa Barbara Co. 13.5


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