2012 Happy Canyon meets Roasted Slope | Wine Notes 538calclub.com

Westerly ‘Côte Blonde’

As in the Northern Rhône appellation of Côte Rôtie (Roasted Slope), Westerly Wines in the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara County cuts their Syrah with a small percentage of Viognier. In Côte Rôtie, 2% to 6% is common, in Westerly’s case, they added 13% Viognier. I thought that was crazy at first, yet their Syrah is a different animal that in the Northern Rhone. I agree with them that if they were going to add the Viognier, it should do its purpose. And it took 13% to accomplish that taste of softening the edges of the peppery Syrah and adding aromas that would never appear otherwise. Both the Syrah and the Viognier for Côte Blonde are sourced from a single vineyard in the heart of the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara AVA. 

Picked on the same date in mid-September, the Syrah and the Viognier were destemmed, hand sorted and then co-fermented together with indigenous yeasts in small stainless tanks. The tanks were punched down 3 times a day for 18 days, and then drained and pressed to 228 liter French oak barrels, 15% of which were new. Malolactic fermentation took place in barrel. The wine was racked to blend after 8 months, and remained in barrel for a total of 18 months. Bottled unfined & unfiltered in July of 2014.

92 POINTS - WINE ENTHUSIAST: “Enhanced with a bit of Viognier, this wine shows an intriguing mix of violet-like fruit and fragrant juniper on the nose, alongside some game and pepper. Tar opens the palate, but then it evolves toward elderberry jam, coffee and very dark chocolate, with more black pepper and violety fruit on the finish.”  — M.K., Wine Enthusiast(7/1/2015)

92 POINTS - WINE SPECTATOR INSIDER: “Shows ample power and finesse. Racy aromas of currant, licorice and smoke open to concentrated flavors of boysenberry, cedar and lead pencil, finishing with ripe but firm tannins. Syrah and Viognier. Best from 2017 through 2022.”(12/17/14)

aris hovsepian