Winery/Vineyard: Emerald Creek Winery
Product/Varietal: 100% Syrah
AVA on Bottle: South Coast
Winemaker: Renato Sais
87.5/100 on CellarTracker.
Silver Medal at 2019 Critics Challenge.
Silver Medal at 2019 OC Fair Commercial Wine Competition.
90/100 & Gold Medal at 2019 Monterey International Wine Competition.
94/100, Platinum Medal & Best Syrah at 2019 San Diego International Wine Challenge.
How They Describe It
Gold Medal Winner (90pts)
Pours a vivid crimson with aromas of fresh blackberry and dark cherry. Boasts flavors of dried boysenberry. Finishes with expressions of white mocha and black peppercorn. Compliments grilled meats, vegetables and wild game.
How I Describe It
Emerald Creek’s 2016 Syrah shows deeply ruby. The wine has slight purple undertones, seemingly to balance four years of age with the varietal’s dark black fruit.
A rush of blueberry and blackberry meets your nose from the glass of Emerald Creek 2016 Syrah. Black currant closely follows. Next, white pepper, bread dough, sage, rosemary, and lavender add depth. Vanilla hits last.
Like the nose, ripe, juicy blackberry and blueberry lead. White pepper spice joins chalk, currant, rosemary, and sage. Finally, brioche melts into cloves and hints of forest floor on the finish.
This is a dry wine with high alcohol (14.6% ABV). Acid is medium-plus. Tannins are high with a chalky mouthfeel, though time seems to be transitioning them to a more velvety texture. The 2017 Syrah is decidedly full-bodied, with pronounced flavor intensity, and a long finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
The last time we reviewed Emerald Creek Winery, we said to expect to hear more about them. Little did we know how deep their 2016 bench was.
It’s no secret that Southern California makes exceptional full-bodied Syrahs. And because the varietal does so well in the region, winemakers are able to let their artistry and taste preferences shine. The Emerald Creek 2016 Syrah, though, is a home run.
Emerald Creek winemaker Renato Sais aged the 2016 Syrah for 18 months in a combination of French, American, and Eastern European oak barrels. 30% of the barrels were new, and 70% were neutral. We see this in the oak flavors, notably cloves — detectable, but well balanced and not overbearing.
The fruit flavors, though, are rich, ripe, deeply concentrated, but not baked. This speaks to Sais and his crew’s ability to cultivate outstanding grapes from Emerald Creek’s northeast-facing vineyards, as well as their ability to time the harvest perfectly. Make no mistake, Renato Sais will go down as one of the most influential winemakers in the Temecula area.
But the main reason the Emerald Creek 2016 Syrah gets a 94 is its clear age-ability. Between its fruit concentration, acid content and tannins — both the quantity and we already see it maturing — if you can manage to hold off popping the cork, bottles of this wine will mature amazingly well over the next 10 years.
When & How I Would Drink It
Emerald Creek’s 2016 Syrah has the kind of palate that will please anyone who enjoys dark fruit-based wines. If you’re looking to convert some Cabernet Sauvignon or Montepulciano loyalists to the Syrah camp, this is a great wine to work with. Then again, you could just keep the wine to yourself — more for you, right?
As the evenings begin to get longer, this is the kind of wine to crack open when you’re ready to treat yourself after a long day. If during a meal, I’d pair with dinner. Syrahs do great with grilled foods — both red meats and vegetables — but in all honesty I’d just as soon drink a glass next to a bowl of chili. The wine is delicious and layered, but there isn’t anything pretentious about it.
How to Get It
Bottle Price: $33.95 ($23.77 for wine club members)
Cases Produced: 100 cases
Have you tried the Emerald Creek 2016 Syrah? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.