Could This Be California’s Best Syrah?

Today’s Story: Colgin Cellars

Colgin Cellars is a relatively small “cult” winery established by Ann Colgin in the Napa Valley in 1992. After falling in love with the valley by attending the Napa Valley Wine Auction in 1988, Ann purchased fruit from the highly-regarded Herb Lamb Vineyard in 1992 and released her first vintage in 1995. Shortly thereafter, Ann purchased what became her Tychson Hill Vineyard which was originally planted to vine in 1861 before it was torn up during Prohibition. Ann replanted 3.5 acres of Tychson Hill in 1997 with the help of David Abreu, and the site gets its name from Josephine Tychson who farmed the property in its early days and was the first female vintner in the Napa Valley. Ann expanded in 1998 when she and her future husband, Joe Wender, purchased a 125 acre property that would ultimately become the site of the winery and Colgin’s IX Estate Vineyard.

Colgin produces four main wines and recently began bottling a “second label” meant to be more approachable in its youth. Though Colgin ceased production of the Herb Lamb bottlings in the late 1990s, the first of the main three current Cabernet wines came about in 1999 and is named Cariad. Cariad is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot with the fruit coming from vineyards owned by David Abreu. Next came the first vintage of Tychson Hill in 2000, which is a pure Cabernet Sauvignon bottling and often the most elegant of the Colgin portfolio. The IX Estate had its first vintage in 2002, and it is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Colgin’s IX Estate Syrah also had its first vintage in 2002, wrapping up the four “Crus” of Colgin Cellars and meant to showcase Ann and Joe’s love of Northern Rhône wines. Completing the Colgin portfolio is Jubilation, a “second wine” that really isn’t a second wine in the eyes of Colgin’s production team. With its first vintage in 2016, Jubilation is created with barrels that demonstrate earlier drinking characteristics and the bottling provides a nice viewpoint into the Crus at a lower price-point.

I’ve had the incredible pleasure of enjoying each of the Colgin wines through several vintages, and visited the property earlier this year. While I can say the wines are truly a class of their own, the incredible tannin quality of each bottling sticks in my memory the most vivid. To learn more about Colgin, I encourage you to visit their website here.

Today’s Wine: 2015 IX Estate Syrah

100% Syrah; 15.4% ABV

The 2015 IX Estate Syrah is deep purple in color, but opaque and nearly black. Given some time to open up, the aromas are of medium (+) intensity and the nose showcases notes of blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, plum, violet, clay, mild baking spice, cracked pepper, and a hint of smoke. The flavors are also of medium (+) intensity, while the palate displays gorgeous notes of blueberry, blackberry compote, spiced plum, black raspberry, violet, smoked meat, a touch of chocolate, and black pepper. This dry red is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but ultra fine-grained and silky tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. This is an outstanding wine.

Price: $350. At this price-point value is difficult to discuss, as there are endless options out there for less money and of nearly this high quality. This being said though, this is perhaps the greatest Syrah I’ve had to date from California and the balance is truly incredible given the alcohol level and youth. I hope I get to taste this again years down the road.

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