We’re all used to big Syrahs now. Between Paso Robles and Santa Barbara and various spots up through Napa and Sonoma, we’ve all gotten used to the big, concentrated Syrah. And this is a big Syrah. But it’s not big like THAT. The thing that strikes me about Alder Creek is the wines will be big, but they arrive that way is such a glorious, un-sweet, un-concentrated, un-massive-mash way. The fruit on this is positively delectable, but I think–at least judging from what I see a LOT of you drink–a lot of people would find it lean. And it IS lean: a careful side-part pulled down around a sun-kissed face, framing a youthful glow unencumbered by the weight of the world–and undue riches–or even the knowledge of Good & Evil. But it’s not small.

Black garnet in the glass, definitely showing some age in the Color Department. Transparent at the core while still staining at the rim. Heady Nor-Cal nectar flows out of the glass: redwood and fir-boughs, manzanita and madrone, red soil and volcanic rocks surfacing with every freeze, the black ribbon of a widened section of 101 adding asphalt and petrichor, foggy mornings dripping with dew and afternoons with sweat stinging the corners of your eyes. The fruit is rich, but not cloying, a definite crushed herbaceousness tickling a little old-world funk.

But tasting it is what quite sets it apart from the thick, swilly versions flashing across Instagram and dotting shelves and wine-lists where somms and salespeople call them “restrained” through gritted teeth. It’s thin and watery. It’s refreshing and dances light on the palate. It injects August blackberry and Christmas pomegranate into every pore along the way–don’t get me wrong–but it does it in such an ethereal fashion: never treading heavily, never crushing the SPIRIT of the wine. Sweet and polished, acids doing their job without obfuscating the middle; it never goes *green*; it never goes low-alcohol hipster-weird; tannins a monstrous affair never cheating the fruit for stardom.

This is probably one of the most delicious Syrahs you’ve ever had. There’s just so much good shit going on in it. And it doesn’t insult you–which is always a good thing.

2015 SHIRAH WINE CO. Syrah Alder Springs Vyd Mendocino Co. California 14.5

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