2011 "O SANGUIS MEUS" SYRAH
The 2011 vintage is a Syrah co-fermented with Viognier, all from Paradise Road Vineyard. This style of including small amounts of the white grape Viognier into the fermentation vat with the red grape Syrah is traditional in the Northern Rhone region of France called Cote Rotie. Fermenting this delicate white grape with the robust red Syrah brings to the finished wine a degree of femininity, I think, by introducing a softer mouthfeel as well as floral aromas and flavors not found in a 100% Syrah. Paradise Road Vineyard only grows Syrah and Viognier, so the co-ferment style seems a natural fit. The Viognier generally ripens earlier than the Syrah, so timing can be tricky. Luckily, I prefer to pick my Syrah on the early side, so as not to get too high of sugar levels and over-concentrated flavors.
In 2011, the average growing season temperature in the Valley was 85f, the hottest day being 100f on Sept. 6. This year marked the beginning of the Valley's continued drought, with the longest dry spell from June 22 to October 4, constituting 105 consecutive days without one drop of rain.
The grapes for the 2011 "O Sanguis Meus" Syrah/Viognier were hand-harvested on September 26, 2011. A handful of great friends and their kids helped us pick the 100 pounds of Viognier ourselves. The fruit was hand-sorted and de-stemmed (but not crushed) into small open top vats and cold soaked for 5 days. The Syrah came in at a sugar level of 24.1 brix. A native fermentation was allowed to start before inoculating with 2 different yeasts. After 9 days of fermentation, the must was pressed off in a small basket press, producing 3 and 1/2 barrels of wine. The wine went through a native malolactic fermentation, and was aged for 30 months in neutral oak barrels.
The wine is a deep garnet in color and has a solid tannic structure for aging. The final pH is 3.83, TA is 6.5 g/L, and alcohol is 14.4%.
The 2011 "O Sanguis Meus" was bottled March 21, 2014. At 75 cases, it is an extremely limited production. This wine is unfined and unfiltered. This means that there may be some small amount of sediment in your bottle. Because of this, I suggest that you let the bottle sit upright for a day or more to settle any precipitate, and decant the wine when you’re ready to drink it. At this moment, I find the wine to still be somewhat tight and a bit chalky. If you want to drink it now, I have found that the wine opens up a lot with some air time, and I have even decanted it overnight with spectacular results. Ultimately, I would cellar the 2011 vintage for another 6-12 months before considering really ready to drink. And I believe it has another 3-4 years of bottle aging before reaching its full potential.
Currently, there are 3 other vintages of Azios Cellars wines that are barrel aging:
2012 and 2013 are also Syrah/Viognier co-ferments from Paradise Road Vineyard
2014 is a 100% Syrah from Paradise Road
For wines that are "made in the vineyard", vintage really matters. Every year is different: precipitation (amount, when, if ever), time of bud break, late frosts, length of growing season, temperature highs and lows, length of winter latency, and on and on. So I believe it is important to work with grapes from a particular vineyard for multiple years in a row to learn how that vineyard shows its fruit in different conditions.