Winery/Vineyard: Emerald Creek Winery
Product/Varietal: 60% Syrah + 40% Malbec
AVA on Bottle: South Coast
Winemaker: Renato Sais
Gold + 90/100 points, 2019 Monterey International Wine Competition
Gold + 90/100 points, 2019 OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition
How They Describe It
Gold Medal Winner (90pts)
Syrah 60%, Malbec 40% blend. Cherry and singed plum on the nose, plus a hint of licorice. Plush dark fruit flavors are enlivened by a peppery quality and picks up a slightly roasted nuance with air. Supple and slightly warm, great finishing cling and echos of plum. Compliments whatever your heart desires perfectly.
How I Describe It
When they’re young, both Syrah and Malbec are deeply colored — almost inky — and have a slight purple hue. Emerald Creek’s 2016 Symmetry retains that deep intensity, but after four years in barrel and bottle the color has begun transitioning to garnet. While some four year old wines will retain their youthful coloring, this kind of transition hints at either more porous cork or minimal use of sulfate preservatives. My inclination is toward the latter.
The Emerald Creek 2016 Symmetry features a beautiful bouquet of ripe strawberry, juicy plum, blackberry, and black currant on the nose. There are subtle undertones of tomato leaf and asparagus, complemented with bread dough and savory backing spices. The wine’s aging process has begun to manifest with fresh shoe leather and pipe tobacco.
Black currant, white pepper, and blackberry hit right out the gate. Black plum and raspberry bring up the rear. There’s a delicate leafy flavor, alongside bead dough, clove, backing spice, as well as a pinch of toast, leather, and mild cigar.
This is a dry wine. At 14.5% ABV, alcohol is high by global (and Malbec) standards, but normal for Syrahs. The 2016 Symmetry has medium acid, and very smooth medium-plus tannins. Flavor intensity is medium-plus. As far as the wine’s body goes, Syrahs tend to be beefy and full-bodied, while Malbecs are more medium-bodied and light. Symmetry splits the difference, with a medium-plus body. This balances well with a medium-plus finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
Those familiar with Temecula Valley wineries might be wondering why they’ve never heard of Emerald Creek Winery. That’s because it’s not in Temecula. In fact, it’s not even in Riverside County.
Emerald Creek is located in Warner Springs, just across the San Diego County line, and is part of the North Mountain Wine Trail along with four other smaller wineries.
So, why are we reviewing this wine on Temecula Wine Ratings? There are a couple reasons: (1) it’s not terribly far from Temecula — about 15 miles down Highway 79 (AKA Temecula Pkwy) — in the surrounding South Coast AVA, (2) its winemaker, Renato Sais, works with a bunch of Temecula wineries, and (3) because Emerald Creek Winery is Temecula’s de facto “winemaker’s winery”.
Remember how the Temecula Valley AVA has highlands, and how grapes grown there produce some of the more premium local wines? Well, winemakers willing to look outside of the AVA’s borders, but who still want local grapes, have found the slopes of Palomar Mountain meet their needs perfectly. For instance, South Coast & Carter Estate Wineries harvest grapes from a vineyard called Wild Horse Peak. Smaller producers, though, source their grapes. And for that, they turn to Emerald Creek. 80% of Emerald Creek’s grapes are sourced out to other wineries; while the specific wineries are kept close to the vest, we know there are 55 (in Temecula as well as other regions) which source from Emerald Creek.
The remaining 20% of Emerald Creek’s grapes, though, go into their house wines, including their 2016 Symmetry.
Emerald Creek’s 2016 Symmetry is very interesting for a couple reasons. First, the blend features two varietals which grow exceptionally well in Southern California: Syrah and Malbec. In Bordeaux and parts of southwest France, Malbec was created as a blending grape, meant to smooth out more robust, fuller bodied varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. That’s precisely what the 40% Malbec does in the 2016 Symmetry: it mellows out the 60% Syrah — the second reason this is a very interesting wine. Both Syrah and Malbec sport black fruit and spice, but the former can be very full-bodied. By combining the two varietals, the resulting blend still features bright fruit, pleasant spice and warm oak, but is a bit lighter than straight Syrah and a bit beefier than lone Malbec. In the words of Martha Stewart, “It’s a good thing.”
Last, expect to hear Emerald Creek more in the coming years. The winery owns 300 acres reserved for vineyards, but only half of them are currently planted with vines. When producing at its full potential, a lot of great South Coast AVA wine will originate from Emerald Creek vines.
When & How I Would Drink It
Lighter than Syrah and heavier than Malbec, the Emerald Creek 2016 Symmetry is best paired with foods which play well with both varietals. I recommend sticking to leaner yet rich proteins like filet mignon, sirloin, lamb, and pork.
Interestingly, Chinese food pairs surprisingly well with the Symmetry. I can personally speak to fried rice and Mongolian beef.
How to Get It
Bottle Price: $49.95
Cases Produced: 150
Have you tried the Emerald Creek 2016 Symmetry? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.