Rusack Vineyards2004 Syrah, Ballard Canyon Reserve
(Santa Barbara County)
Since the winemaking team of John and Helen Falcone came to Rusack Vineyards (formerly Ballard Canyon Winery) in 2001, they’ve made a lot of changes, including replanting the estate vineyard, as well as now sourcing top quality grapes from neighboring vineyards including those from the Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Maria Valley appellations.
They do make a wider appellation Santa Barbara County Syrah, but this one, sourced from two vineyards (50% Windmill Ranch Vineyard, 50% Tierra Alta Vineyard) very near the winery on Ballard Canyon Rd, arrested my palate. The color on this Syrah is almost black...it looks to be that extracted (fermented in one ton bins and punched down by hand several times a day). Though it’s a ramped-up style of Syrah, there’s nothing out of place; it has an incredible sense of balance. Toasty vanilla aromas (16 months in oak, 60% new French) are married to bacon fat with plenty of dark fruits. Blackberry, boysenberry and raspberry are the dominant flavors, but many other secondary elements are in the mix too, such as espresso, cocoa and more bacon fat. This Syrah has so many things going on, it’s nearly sensory overload, but pleasantly so.
Reviewed February 14, 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.