Truchard Vineyards2002 Syrah
(Carneros ~ Los Carneros)
There are a dozen or so Napa Valley wineries that consistently produce balanced wines with relatively low alcohol (for the region), that are terroir-driven, and are built for the long haul. That is, one can taste or smell the origin of the grapes, the resultant fruit is not reduced to jam, and the wash of acidity cleanses the palate of animal or vegetable fat, in turn getting you ready for the next bite of food.
Truchard – in the Carneros region of southern Napa Valley – is one of those producers. Tony Truchard is a wonderful farmer, who has been growing his grapes there for almost 30 years. Eighty percent of his fruit goes to others, but since 1989, he’s been holding back some of the grapes for himself. He then turns them over to winemaker Sal De Ianni, who makes them into the type of wine I’ve described above.
In particular, this Syrah, from two blocks that range from 5 to 12 years – one a four-acre site called “Highlands” to the north of the property, and the other an 8-acre parcel in the opposite direction – is reminiscent of the northern Rhône.
It’s perfumed in the nose with warm blackberries and plums, with cocoa powder. That warmth is transmuted to the palate, along with sweet, juicy blackberries and wild cherries. Soft tannins enable it to be accessible now, but the fine-grained earth tones and a hint of leather with baking spices such as clove and cinnamon ensure that it’ll last for about a dozen years.
The wine was aged for only 10 months in French (90 percent) and American wood, with 30 percent of the whole being new. The grapes were picked at 24.6 Brix, translating to a listed alcohol of 14.3 percent. The price is right, too. A little more than 4,000 cases were produced.
Reviewed July 6, 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.