2007 Amapola Creek Syrah

Year: 2007
Appellation: Sonoma County
Country: USA - California
Wine Advocate: 94
Red Wine
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"Arrowood has a long history of making Syrah, and his 2007 Syrah from a mountainside estate vineyard organically farmed has a dense purple color and a big sweet kiss of exotic flowers, blue and black fruits, graphite, and subtle smoke. Full-bodied, opulent, fleshy, intense and layered, this is a brilliant Syrah, still very youthful, and best drunk over the next decade or more.

Having sold the Arrowood winery to Jess Jackson, Richard Arrowood has stayed on as a consultant, but this is his own operation, which involves estate Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as purchased Zinfandel from the historic Monte Rosso Vineyard. These are all impressive newcomers, but that’s to be expected from Dick Arrowood, one of the most experienced and highly talented winemakers of the last four decades." (WA)

"I predict that 10 years from now, Syrah will be right up there with Cabernet Sauvignon in terms of popularity in the United States. Wine writers have been touting U.S. Syrah for a while, but I think they were a little premature with their predictions. It takes time for growers to figure out the best locations, rootstock, vine trellising and production methods. I believe that the U.S. has now figured out the grape that the French and Aussies made so popular before us. American Syrah has arrived.

Richard “Dick” Arrowood started his career in wine in the ’60s and by the ’70s became winemaker at Sonoma icon Chateau Ste. Jean. There, he created arguably Sonoma County’s most famous red wine, Cinq Cepages. Arrowood went on to found his namesake winery, which he sold in the 90s when the market was hot. So what does any true winemaker do now? He starts another winery of course!

Amapola Creek, founded in 2001, lies on the rugged slopes of the Sonoma side of the Mayacamas mountains. Sonoma’s cooler climate is perfect for the Syrah grape and Dick Arrowood’s extensive skills and experience shine through in this incredible wine. It pours an opaque purple/black and has an absolutely incredible nose of reduced maple, smoked meat and blueberry. On the palate, it’s dense, rich and broad with the blueberry flavors continuing though the incredibly lengthy finish. I made these notes last night and I’m still thinking about the taste this afternoon. That’s how I know this was a memorable wine.

The 2007 Amapola Creek Syrah is $45 on the winery’s website and it’s allocated to only 3 bottles per person; likely a function of its 94 point score awarded by Robert Parker. L.A. Wine Co. has it for $36.95 (no allocation limits), the lowest price online and an incredible value for this monumental wine. I hope there is still some left next time I’m there because I can see this wine becoming one of those mailing list only cult wines." (Nickel & Dime)

Winery Notes:
The Vineyard
Our Syrah is organically grown on a small parcel of land located 900 feet above Sonoma Valley on a sun-washed western slope of the Mayacamas range. Bobcat Run takes its name from a large resident feline who treats us to an occasional sighting. This block is part of our 100-acre ranch, which borders and shares red, iron-oxide volcanic soils with our neighbor, the highly acclaimed Monte Rosso Vineyard, source of superb wines for well over a century. A site ideally suited for growing Syrah, Bobcat Run lies in a fairly cool hollow open to the southwest, and its rows run east/west for good sun and warmth without excessive exposure.

Three cool weeks in April offset an early start to the 2007 growing season. May began very warm, cooled markedly, then warmed up again, resulting in a modest fruit set. Temperatures were ideal through June, and after a few days just over 100°F. around the Fourth of July, pleasant summer weather resumed with moderate days, mild nights and adequate humidity despite a dry year. When heat returned in late August, it was not extreme, and most of September was quite mild, resulting in long hang time and smooth sailing at the winery. The 2007 vintage was simply superb, yielding wines with fully ripe flavors and mature tannins.

Painstaking organic farming and finely-tuned crop levels on our estate vines gave us a phenomenal Syrah, one we would be very pleased to make every year. It happens that 2007 was the first crush at our new Amapola Creek facility, and what a spectacular way to start. This wine was punched down entirely by hand and put into 40% new Ermitage barrels with the balance in seasoned French oak. Ink black with a dark purple edge, this intense Syrah offers effusive aromas of wonderfully ripe plums, smoked meats and deli spices with hints of anisette. On the mouth, it is succulent and seamless, with complex layers of black plum, boysenberry and meaty flavors, smooth tannins and a trace of cloves on the impeccably balanced, enduring finish.

This wine is unfined and unfiltered. Drink now or hold for 10-plus years.