A few months ago, a dynamic Scotsman came knocking on our door with a few samples of his 2010 Syrahs from Sonoma County. The man’s name was Steve Law, and he is the winemaker and proprietor of MacLaren, a producer of northern Rhone inspired wines from selected parcels of prime cool climate vineyards in Sonoma. Steve’s stated goal is to create wines which express the individuality of the vineyard sites from which he sources his grapes and to imbue them with a French accent. I think it is fair to say that he has succeeded.
Immediately upon tasting his wines I was struck by the quality and readiness to drink of the wines right out of bottle while at the same time, it’s clear that they will improve with some time in cellar. While all of the wines we tasted showed great merit we were ultimately able to bring two of them in.
The first of the pair is the 2010 Russian River Valley Syrah which displayed in the nose rich blackberry aromas and a slight smoky/salty component as well as a hint of wood spice imparted by the touch of new French oak, only 15% new. On the palate the wine followed with lush dark berried fruit and well integrated tannins. For $24.99 it’s easy to love. The second of the pair, the 2010 Judge Family Vineyard Syrah from the Bennett Valley, also in Sonoma County, was equally inspiring and very reminiscent of the Northern Rhone wines which it was inspired by. The nose greets you with great lushness of red fruits and a touch of oak spice and black pepper while the palate is all elegance, fine grained tannins and that same rich fruit with a touch of espresso on the finish. This wine scored an outstanding 93 points from the Wine Enthusiast and for only $34.99 is an absolute steal. These are wines to be enjoyed on their own or with a variety of grilled meats, perfect for those summer barbeques.
Bill A., Beltramo’s Wine Consultant