2011 Santa Ynez Valley Syrah | Wine Notes 538calclub.com
Zaca Mesa ‘Mesa Reserve
Purchased in 1972 by John Cushman and five friends, the first vines were planted a year later in 1973. Only the third winery in Santa Barbara County at that time, Zaca Mesa began by experimenting with many varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay to see what would work. After several years of trial and error, Syrah was planted in 1978. Unbeknownst to the early winemaking team at the time, this block would become what is today the renown Black Bear Block, the oldest Syrah block in the Central Coast.
Since 1997, the vineyard and winemaking practices have focused on growing the best Syrah, Viognier, and other Rhône varieties. Since then, Zaca Mesa has ripped out over half the original vines, and replaced them with high-density plantings of new rootstock and clone combinations to significantly improve quality. The result is Zaca Mesa wines consistently receive and praise industry wide. The Mesa Reserve Syrah frequently appears on Top 100 lists in wine publications such as Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. There vineyard is located in the northern most portion of Santa Ynez Valley AVA within Santa Barbara County. Unlike most of California’s coast, these valleys orient east-west, opening to the Pacific Ocean’s influences with its cooling morning fog and afternoon breeze. We are about 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The wines are made from sustainably farmed grapes that are 100 percent estate grown, produced and bottled. With over 40 years of grape growing experience in the Santa Ynez Valley, Zaca Mesa’s winemaking and vineyard teams meticulously farm our vineyard to focus on terroir-driven wines. They are found a true affinity to the Rhône varietals in Santa Barbara County. There, the vineyard soils are composed of Chamise Loam and Chamise Shaly Loam. They are well-drained soils that developed over gravelly beds of silt, clay, shale rock and other sandy water-deposited materials. These soils are on dissected high terraces (or mesas) with elevations of 1500 feet above sea level. This high elevation provides cooler nights, which translates into wines retaining their natural acidity.
After hand harvesting, the grapes were de-stemmed and placed into small open top bins to ferment. During the three week fermentation, the skins were punched-down by hand twice a day to develop rich color and fine tannins. Once dry, the wine was placed into new French oak barrels for 21 months to age. Individual barrels were selected to create this reserve