IO2003 Syrah, Upper Bench
(Santa Maria Valley)
IO is the moniker given to the Syrah program at Byron Vineyard and Winery, to
distinguish it from their Burgundian thrust (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). 2003 may be the
watershed vintage for IO, as all three releases seem outstanding. The Syrah from the Upper
Bench Vineyard, a cool Region I to Region II climate, planted to the Durrell and Aussie 01 series
clones, is the most intriguing.
Blueberry, vanilla, espresso and leather come through on the nose; Syrah aromatics don’t get much better than this. Blackberry jam, black/dark plum, spice and leather all come together on the mid palate, with a background of lavender and violets. There’s plenty to like here: dark fruits and the complex layering of spices, with the 40% new French oak well integrated into the proceedings. A nearly perfect expression of the Syrah grape.
Reviewed January 25, 2007 by Dennis Schaefer.
Dennis Schaefer has been tasting and writing about wine for over 30 years, propelled by a continuing curiosity and burgeoning enthusiasm for discovering what’s in the bottle. Blessed with catholic tastes, he enjoys everything from the obvious to the sublime. A major requirement is that the vineyard, winery and winemaker consistently perform well and fulfill their potential. Balance, concentration and complexity are key to the tasting experience but, in the end, the purpose of wine is simply to give pleasure.