A December surprise is always what will be in the shipment from A Taste of Monterey from their “Private Reserve Club.” We have been members of this club for ages and it gives us a chance to enjoy some wines that otherwise may not get to Michigan for a myriad of reasons, and after we found out that they could legally ship to us, back when we were still a “felony state,” it was a no-brainer. We were staying in Carmel-by-the-Sea and had made a side trip to Monterey, because I was a pain in the rear, and some things never change, and I had wanted to dine at the legendary Sardine Factory in the historic Cannery Row district. We ate, drank, bought wine, joined a club and bought a major piece of art, all in part of a day. We still have the art work, and we are still getting wine from our wine club, though, off-hand, I am not sure if we still have any wine in the cellar from that trip still, though it is possible.
The first wine that I pulled out of the carton was a Wrath Estate Wines KW Ranch Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands 2016. Over the years we have received and enjoyed many wines from Wrath. Wrath Estate Winery is located in Soledad, California and they are a winery where production is limited, but not the quality, and since we have been there, they have opened a satellite tasting room in downtown Carmel. The winery produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Falanghina and Sauvignon Blanc from their estate vineyard and some very respected private vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Wrath Wines has contracts with McIntyre Vineyard, which was planted in 1973 and has the oldest Pinot Noir vines in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The Doctor’s Vineyards also in the Santa Lucia Highlands grows eleven different clones of Pinot Noir on one-hundred-ninety-three acres, forty-five acres of five different clones of Syrah and almost five acres of Malbec. The Tondre Grapefield started in 1997 with six and a half acres in the heart of the Santa Lucia Highlands and is now one-hundred acres dedicated to Pinot Noir. The KW Ranch is also in the Santa Lucia Highlands and was planted in 2000 and dedicated to Pinot Noir and Syrah. The Alta Loma Vineyard was planted in 2000 and is two-hundred-forty-six acres of biodynamically certified Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Grenache. The last of the private vineyards that Wrath Wines contracts with is the Boekenoogen Vineyard, which went from a fifth-generation cattle ranch to becoming a vineyard in 1998 and growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.
The KW Ranch is located in the center of the Santa Lucia Highlands with the Pinot Noir and Syrah vines planted by Kirk Williams and is located only six miles from the winery. Historically the wines from this vineyard are known to be intense and highly aromatic. The grapes are hand harvested and sorted, with twenty percent of this wine utilized whole cluster fermentation and an oak regimen. Even after the bottling, the wines were cellared for an additional twelve months in the bottle before they were released. According to the tasting notes the wine offers “flashes” of black pepper, smoked meat, blackberries, leather and cassis. The tannins are described as bold, but elegant and approachable. The suggested cellaring potential is for eight to ten years and there were only one-hundred-fifty-eight cases produced and I did check their website and they do not have any representation here in Michigan, especially with the small production like this wine had.