Winery: Temecula Hills Winery & Vineyard / Oak Mountain Winery
Product/Varietal: 100% Syrah
AVA on Bottle: California
Winemaker: Steve Andrews
Silver at 2020 Sommelier Challenge.
4.0 out of 5 stars on Vivino (all vintages).
90/100 from Wine Enthusiast (2014 vintage).
87/100 on Cellar Tracker (2015 vintage).
How They Describe It
Our estate Syrah vineyard lies at an altitude of 2,900 feet above sea level. Our vines were purchased from Tablas Creek Nursery and planted in 1999. Ripe and intense, flavors of blackberries and black cherries are married to the caramel overtones of the oak. Complex & full bodied. This wine pairs well with grilled pork loin or rack of lamb. Goes great with Camembert cheese.
How I Describe It
The Temecula Hills 2016 Estate Syrah shows ruby red with medium-deep intensity. The color appear concentrated throughout, with very little thinning along the rim. It foreshadows just how rich and full the fruit concentration is in this wine.
Aromas begin with a blend of blueberries, mulberries, black cherries and raspberries, powdered with granitic dust. Nicely integrated scents of black pepper, cloves, and bread yeast join the bouquet. Beneath the more prominent perfume are hints of cold brew coffee, leather-bound books, a rustic twinge of brett, as well as vanilla and toasted coconut.
Luxardo cherries, black currant, blackberry, and cranberry dominate the flavor palate in the Temecula Hills 2016 Estate Syrah. Bread toast, vanilla and cedar, along with black pepper and dill, contribute spice and complexity. These flavors are veiled in a thin cloak of tar and earth, which continues to the finish.
This is a dry wine. At 14% ABV, the alcohol content is right on the cusp of being considered high, but is considerably lower than many Temecula-area Syrahs. Medium-plus acid and high but velvety tannins balance out the alcoholic heat. The 2016 Estate Syrah is full bodied, with medium-plus flavor intensity, and a long finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
First, and most importantly, Temecula Hills Winery & Vineyard is the production facility for Oak Mountain Winery. It sits just outside the Temecula Valley AVA boundaries — but well within the South Coast AVA borders — and also serves as the brand reserved for the owners’ estate grapes. Similar to the one previous time it happened, this is the reason why we’re making an exception and reviewing this wine, despite using California AVA on the label.
For context, when the Temecula Valley AVA boundaries were initially recognized in 1984, the number of commercial wineries numbered in the single digits. With around 3,000 plantable acres, that was more than enough space for these early adopters. Fast forward to today, and there are now over 50 wineries, with new brands launching each year. Despite a fairly similar climates reaching as far east as Anza, wine can only use the Temecula Valley AVA if the vines were planted within AVA’s the recognized geographic borders.
The Temecula Hills Winery & Vineyard estate is located just a few miles outside of the 1984 borders. But the proximity to the AVA and the altitude give it a similar climate to the De Luz and La Cresta highlands.
Should the Temecula Valley AVA borders expand to encompass the large number of vineyards which have sprung up in the 36 years since its original creation, it’s hard to tell whether the Temecula Hills Winery & Vineyard property would be included. However, this author’s opinion is the Temecula Hills 2016 Estate Syrah more than fits the requirements to be considered local Temecula wine.
In full disclosure, the bottle described here was donated by Oak Mountain Winery. Other than providing the wine itself, there was no exchange of anything which would have influenced or unfairly biased this review.
When & How I Would Drink It
The beauty of a wine like the Temecula Hills 2016 Estate Syrah is it enjoys the benefit of the warm, sunny Temecula climate, while also leveraging the cooling higher altitude of the hills just to the northeast of wine country. The result is a Syrah which enjoys both ripe, rich fruit concentration as well as plenty of the peppery spice Syrah drinkers love.
Another nice surprise about the 2016 Estate Syrah is the comparatively lower alcohol content. While higher alcohol adds body and often amplifies many desiderable fruit characteristics, the slightly lower 14% ABV endows this version of Southern California Syrah with a slightly more manageable body. Make no mistake, this is still a full bodied wine, but this minor tweak in alcohol content is a pleasant shift, particularly when pairing.
This brings us to food. Of course, just about anything from the grill is perfectly suited for a Syrah like this. Truthfully, though, this is a wine which could go well with a wide variety of dishes. Roast chicken, seared tuna, sausage-based sauces, and mushroom-based plates all would do extremely well. With few exceptions (I would avoid high-umami seafood like lobster or oysters), the sky is pretty much the limit.
How to Get It
Bottle Price: $49.00 ($41.65 for 12+ bottles)
Cases Produced: 550 cases
Have you tried the Temecula Hills 2016 Estate Syrah? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.