Amista Vineyards2003 Syrah, Morningsong Vineyards
(Dry Creek Valley)
This is the first release from Amista, a producer which seems intent on making wines and promulgating the exigencies of the Dry Creek Valley AVA. Vicky and Mike Farrow use only the fruit from their own vineyard, which sits near the center of the famed valley, three miles east of Healdsburg in northern Sonoma County.
Dry Creek, known mostly for its Zinfandels, is producing some bright Syrahs because as Lou Preston at his eponymous winery discovered back in 1977, the climate is not unlike that of the southern Rhône.
The Amista Syrah, from young vines off of eight acres on the Farrow’s Morningsong Vineyard, is redolent of the dark fruit for which Dry Creek has gained its reputation. Aromas are warm, somewhat smoky with bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder and of moist earth. There’s burnt caramel and caramelized berry syrup flavors and fine grain textural tannins. This is a hell of a first effort. The wine is substantial and will hold together for about a dozen years.
Mike Farrow picked his grapes at 23 Brix sugar for which I applaud him, and which helps to incorporate the 14.6 percent of listed alcohol. He made 760 cases of the wine at Everett Ridge. The wine was aged for 18 months in 50 percent French and 50 percent American barrels, 25 percent of which was new. (Amista, incidentally, is pronounced a MEE sta.)
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.