Astrale e Terra2002 Syrah, Estate
(Atlas Peak ~ Napa Valley)
I’ve predicted in a recent article (see my interview with Joseph Phelps Winery winemaker Craig Williams) that Syrah would surpass Zinfandel as the fourth most planted and popular grape in the Napa Valley (Cabernet, Merlot, and Pinot Noir are in the forefront). If this wine from tiny Astrale e Terra is any indication, the variety, as well as Atlas Peak, has a leg up on the competition.
The color is very dark; while there are aromas of sage and oregano – indicators of the volcanic vineyard, which sits at nearly 1,300-foot elevation (that’s about halfway up the peak). On the palate, this Syrah is beautifully balanced, soft and elegant (made more so by the addition of Cabernet). There are fresh berries here and some stewed plums. It’s a substantial wine of place (there are less than three acres planted to Syrah) with good minerality.
The wine was fermented for 30 months in French oak barrels, only 25 percent of which were new; and it saw additional age from being in bottle for another year and a half before it was released. The listed alcohol percentage is 14.2 and there were only 436 cases produced.
Reviewed December 21, 2006 by Alan Goldfarb.
Alan Goldfarb has been writing about and reviewing wine for 17 years. His reviews have been published in the St. Helena Star, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Examiner, Decanter, and Wine Enthusiast, among others. Not once has he used a point system, star system, or an iconic symbol to quantify a wine. What counts in Mr. Goldfarb’s criteria when judging a wine is: how it tastes in the glass; is it well-constructed; its food compatibility; and presence of redeeming regional attributes.