There is nothing better than opening up a carton to discover the new wines from your wine club “A Taste of Monterey” and in all the years of opening up those cartons, I have never been disappointed. It probably pays off in spades, because we belong to the Private Reserve Club. Monterey County is a relative newcomer according to the AVA as it was only awarded status in 1984. It is kind of a long a narrow region that follows the Salinas River, and the area was immortalized by John Steinbeck long before wine was grown there.
De Tierra Vineyards began in 1998 as an organic grape growing operation by Tom Russel, an agriculture professional from Phoenix, Arizona. He had transitioned his crops from conventional vegetable operations to organic farming in the 1990’s. He was very successful and tried his approach to winemaking in the Salinas Valley and he teamed up with Lucio Gomiero of Italy and they developed a forty-acre farm and De Tierra Vineyards was established. The vineyard is now owned by Dan McDonnal and Alix Lynn Bosch and they strive to maintain the name which translates to “of the land.” They grow eight varietals and they also make three different blends, but some of the fruit is sourced beyond the estate. They maintain a tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
The fruit for the De Tierra Syrah 2016 comes from the Coast View Vineyard and the Chalone Vineyard, both of which are found in the Gabilan Mountains. The days are warm and the nights cool off, and the soil if rocky and evokes Cote-Rotie of the Rhone. There are sparse notes on production, but it was aged in oak, with minimal stirring and they allowed full malolactic fermentation to occur. The wine also enjoyed twenty-four months of bottle aging and brings with it the classic Rhone flavors of white pepper, cassis and raspberry with a finish vanilla and oak. I have to believe that this will be a full bodied and big wine and they are suggesting eight to ten years of aging potential in the cellar. Time will tell.