The reigning KING of Petite Sirah in California has been tackling a few other things, and when Howell Mountain’s Mike Dunn puts his name on it, you’re pretty much guaranteed a winner. Sure… his dad’s cab gets all the ink, but if you can get your hands on some Retro, DO IT.
Black purple density–right out to the razor of clear at the rim. Decanted generously. After the early wave of dried-spit and earthy compost, a nose of grating dark berry–abrasive and tense–showcases un-slutty fruit concentration against a wall of floral-tinged petrichor and grainy mineral. Blood orange and tobacco flow freely from the taut grip of steely density, pure Syrah expression of berry and briar fully on display.
This is a 30-year syrah, the characteristics of which impossible to ignore on the palate. Chalky and chewy on entry, vivid acid and early tannin scraping all surfaces. The black cherry a green, firm species–peach pit and shrill green sapling-blood heavily masking under-tones of balsamic and pretty lily. Bitter and delicious, copious layers of ridiculously complex and pointed fruit push yellow onion, chaparral and white pepper into receptors open to suggestion. Despite the near-15-oh proof, it shows cool and spritely, heat a non-event, never stooping to fabricated early-yumminess from oak or manipulated macerations and fermentations. Adolescent berry musters dessert-like levels in the finish, a glassy tonic over unforgiving–but manageable–structure.
THIS is what Syrah should be. THIS is stuff of dreams for true fans of the variety. THIS will blow your Hermitage, Cornas, and St. Joseph-addled mind. Step away from the Mendocino-darling-childs, Paso jam & vodka, or South-Coast allocations and see what true talent can do with one of the greatest grapes ever squished. Buy as much as you can afford, and TRY to make it last a few decades. Good luck with that.
2016 RETRO CELLARS Syrah Howell Mt. Napa Valley, 14.9