Wine of the Week; 2009 Tercero Syrah Larner Vineyard

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 Tercero Syrah Larner Vineyard.

The Winery

Tercero Vineyards is located in Los Olivos, California.  Larry Schaffer is the owner/winemaker.  Schaffer left a successful career in publishing to pursue his dream of becoming a winemaker.  He earned a degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis.  Thereafter he got winemaking career started as an enologist at Fess Parker Winery.  While at Fess Parker he started Tercero.

I first meet Larry a couple of years ago at one of my favorite events - Dark & Delicious. Initially, he caught my attention because he was aerating his wines in Erlenmeyer flasks rather than traditional decanters.  I thought – How cool is that (note to self – buy some lab beakers; they cost less and work as well!)?

I tried his wines, and came away impressed.

Since then, I’ve tasted his wines at a few other events, and continued to be impressed. The wines are worthy of attention, and reasonably priced (the reds are $30, the whites are $22!). On top of that, Larry is hard-working, down-to-earth, passionate, and very affable guy in my book.  And that matters to me.

Tercero Wines offers a range of wines including varietal bottlings of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, a red Rhône blend, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Rosé, and a dry Gewürztraminer. All wines are bottled under screwcap (extra points in my book!) Annual case production is about 1,250 cases.

The wines are worth seeking out, and if you get a chance, I heartily recommend a visit to the winery!

Wine of the Week; 2009 Tercero Syrah Larner Vineyard

Larry Schaffer of Tercero Vineyard. Image courtesy of Santa Barbara County Vintners Association

The Wine

Tercero sources the fruit for this wine from the Larner Vineyard, located in newly anointed Ballard Canyon AVA in the Santa Ynez Valley, in Santa Barbara County.

The vineyard and wines produced from Larner Vineyard have garnered a tremendous amount of attention from leading reviewers, and wine publications. Leading wineries that purchase grapes and produce wines from the Larner Vineyard include Jaffurs, Herman Story, Paul Lato, Bonaccorsi, and many others.  In addition to Syrah, Tercero also sources Grenache from the vineyard.

The wine is a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier that were co-fermented. The Viognier give the wines an aromatic lift.  It was aged for 42 months in older French oak barrels.

Wine of the Week; 2009 Tercero Syrah Larner Vineyard

Wine of the Week; 2009 Tercero Syrah Larner Vineyard

My tasting notes follow:

Carmine color with aromatic incense, mixed berry, baked cherry, brown sugar and cedarwood aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, vibrant and well structured with a supple texture.  It shows blackberry, blueberry, red and red currant flavors. Medium-long finish. SRP – $30; 100 cases produced; 14.4% alcohol

Rating: A-: A wonderful example of a cool-climate Syrah!

Pair with:  Seafood pasta dishes, chicken satay, chicken tikka masala, lamb, or Moroccan vegetable stew.

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2009 Zotovich Cellars Estate Syrah

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 Zotovich Cellars Estate Syrah.


Zotovich Cellars is a small (they produce about 1,700 cases of wine annually) family operated winery producing 100% Santa Rita Hills Estate Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay & Viognier.   The partners in the winery are the owner Steve Zotovich, and his nephew Ryan Zotovich who is the Winemaker.

Wine of the Week; 2009 Zotovich Cellars Estate Syrah

Steve & Ryan Zotovich (Vineyard Owner/Partner & Winemaker/Partner) – Image courtesy of Zotovich Cellars

I was introduced to Zotovich Cellars when we visited the Lompoc Wine Ghetto in April last year.  We had the good fortune of Pete Zotovich pouring for us.  The day we visited they were pouring this wine along with their Chardonnay, Rosé, Pinot Noir, and Reserve Pinot Noir. It was a close call, between this wine and their Reserve Pinot Noir, but I picked up this bottle of wine.

The Wine

One hundred percent of the grapes crushed into Zotovich wine are grown on their 35-acre Zotovich estate vineyard located off Route 246, between Melville and Foley.  The Santa Rita Hills AVA  is exposed to fog and coastal breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean. The hills run east to west, which allows cool ocean breezes from the Pacific to enter the hills and create a cool micro-climate. As such, this is considered to be a “cool-climate” Syrah. Cool climate Syrah smells, and tasted different that its warm weather counter-parts.  They typically have higher levels of acidity and freshness.

While the wine was fermenting, it was punched down three times daily. Following primary fermentation, free run juice was extracted, barreled down and then the skins were gently pressed to extract the remaining wine.  Thereafter, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation before being bottled.

2009 Zotovich Family Estate Syrah

2009 Zotovich Family Estate Syrah

My tasting note follows:

Violet color with roasted dark fruit, pepper, and hints of fig and espresso aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-full-bodied, and nicely balanced with great acidity, supple tannins, and baked plum, pepper, and black currant flavors. Medium -Long finish. – 91 pts

Rating: Highly recommended. This wine is a great example of a “cool climate” Syrah.

Pair with:  This is a very food friendly wine in my book. Pair with lamb, sausages, chili con carne, venison, and hearty stews!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Wine purchased for review

Related post you might enjoy:

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!  Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine Of The Week: 2009 Copain Syrah Les Voisins

My Wine Of The Week for October 13 – October 19 is the 2009 Copain Syrah Les Voisins.

The Winery

Copain Winery was founded by winemaker Wells Guthrie in 1999.  The winery sits atop a hillside with an astounding view of the Russian River Valley.  As I looked out over the valley on gorgeous Indian summer day, I was struck with a sense of tranquility I can still vividly recall!

View of the Russian River Valley from Copain Winery

View of the Russian River Valley from Copain Winery

According to the Copain website…

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s Rhône Valley in particular. So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best. For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s Rhone Valley. During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life.

Mr Guthrie started the winery with an old friend, and named it Copain, which means ‘friend” in French.  Copain is focused on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,and Syrah.  They also produce a Rose, and an interesting, food friendly and outstanding wine named “P2″ which is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. They offer three lines of wines, the entry-level “Tous Ensembles”, mid-level “Les Voisins”, and their top of the line “Single Vineyard” Wines.

Their beautiful tasting room, located in Healdsburg, is open to the public Thursday through Saturday from 10:30 AM to 4 PM, and by appointment only Sunday through Wednesday. There is a $15 tasting fee, which is waived with the purchase of wine.  They also offer a seasonal “Picnic Pairing” tasting option, where you taste three wines chosen by Copain to pair with a picnic lunch from Chloe’s French Cafe for $35.

The Wine

I picked up this wine a few weeks back when my wife and I went to Sonoma to attend the Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival.  We drove up on a Friday, and visited several wineries.  Copain was easily the winery of the day!

This wine is a blend of grapes from 3 neighboring vineyards in the cool-climate Yorkville Highlands AVA in Mendocino County.  The vineyards are planted on a rocky hillsides which rise from 600 to 2500 feet elevation. Guthrie uses whole cluster fermentation for 30% of the wine and does not use new wood for ageing.

2009 Copain Syrah Les Voisins

2009 Copain Syrah Les Voisins

We picked up several bottles of wine when we visited. I’m a sucker for cool-climate Syrah, but all the wines we tasted were elegant and well-balanced. I highly recommend the winery…and next time we go, we’re going to have that picnic tasting!

My tasting notes follow:

Opaque black-red color with aromatic mixed berry, and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, well-balanced and elegant with fresh acidity and black cherry, raspberry, and mineral flavors. Medium-long finish! – 91pts


Highly recommended!  This is a world-class Syrah for $36!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 13.9% alcohol.

Closure: Cork.

AVA: >CaliforniaNorth Coast>Yorkville Highlands

Varietal(s): 100% Syrah

Cooperage: Neutral Oak

Retail: $36

Cases produced: Unknown


Wine of the Week: 2007 Breggo Syrah

My wine of the week for May 19-May 25 is the 2007 Breggo Cellars Syrah

The Winery

Breggo Cellars is located in the City of Booneville in Anderson Valley AVA, which is north (about 70 miles) of Napa Valley in Mendocino County.  It is owned by Cliff Lede (pronounced “LAY-dee”) of the Cliff Lede Vineyards and Poetry Inn in Napa Valley, where Lede has been very successful producing Bordeaux varietal wines.

As the saying goes “Great wine starts in the vineyard”.  And a great vineyard, start with having the grape varietal best suited for the location of the vineyard.  Breggo is focused on varietals that do well in cool climate Anderson Valley – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Syrah.

The Wine

I purchased this wine at the Cliff Lede last year.  This is a “cool climate” Syrah.  So what’s the difference between a “cool climate”, and a “warm climate” Syrah?  Generally speaking, Syrah grown in warm climate locations ripens more easily, and will showcase riper (perhaps jammy) fruit flavors like blueberry, black-cherry and raspberry.Warm climate Syrah often have higher alcohol, owing to the higher sugar levels associated with easier ripening.  It’s that higher alcohol that can give the wine the perception of being more full-bodied.  On the other hand, cool-climate Syrah tends to be lower in sugar and higher in acidity since ripening can be more challenging.  They tend to be more aromatic, showing more red fruit flavors as cherries, plums, along with peppery notes.  Cool climate wines also tend to manifest a more restrained (lighter-bodied) style.

My tasting notes follow:

Medium garnet color with lifted aromas of dark mixed berries, oak, cloves, smoked meat, and minerals. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, focused and well-balanced with nervy acidity, supple tannins, and mixed dark berries, cassis, and sweet mineral flavors. Long finish. 13.7% alcohol. A cool climate Syrah that’s drinking beautifully!

Recommendation:  This is an excellent Syrah, and definitely worth seeking out, if can find it (Breggo doesn’t make this wine anymore – Their current Syrah offering is the single vineyard Alder Springs Vineyard Syrah – Suggested Retail – $55).

Hmmm…It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been up to Anderson Valley…I think it’s time another visit, and Breggo is on my list!

Details:  13.7% alcohol.  Cork closure.  AVA: Anderson Valley. Varietal: Syrah. Suggested Retail – $30 USD