Curtis Winery, Syrah, Crossroads Vineyard 2003

by Tim Elliott on September 16, 2006

I tasted this wine while on vacation last month at Gaffney’s Wine Bar in Encinitas, California. Although they could have used some air conditioning on the evening I visited, I found the wine selection to be quite interesting and service honest and efficient. Owners Donna and Robert Gaffney had a similar wine bar in Sonoma for several years before relocating down to the seaside town of Encinitas, just north of San Diego. Even though their business is on Hwy 101, this is not a place most tourists would frequent so the Gaffney’s cater to locals. They pick their wines only from very limited production wineries they have developed relationships with over the years and also sell everything available at the bar in their retail shop. The wines are served in the proper Riedel stemware at the correct temperature and each regular pour is a generous 6 ounces. I chose a flight of two half-pours from the Curtis Winery of Santa Barbara County.

Curtis is a Rhone specialist making Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier, Roussanne and blends of these varietals. Winemaker Chuck Carlson shows his passion for Syrah and it’s terroir by making three vineyard designates: Ambassador’s Vineyard, Crossroads Vineyard and Vogelzang Vineyard. Gaffney’s had the Crossroads Vineyard Syrah from Santa Ynez Valley available for tasting of which only 597 cases were produced.

Tasting Notes:

Curtis Winery, Syrah, Crossroads Vineyard, Santa Barbara County 2003 ($32) – 100% Syrah aged 16 months in new and previously used French oak. Dark purple in color with rich plum, tobacco and vanilla aromas. Concentrated and layered black cherry, blueberry and plum flavors with some herbs and spices finishing with silky tannins and some heat from 15.5% ABV. Despite the high level of alcohol, I found this wine to be balanced by enormous fruit reminiscent of Pax Syrah. A delicious wine that proves that great Syrah can come from the Santa Ynez Valley of “Sideways” fame. I’d only like to see a bit less alcohol here.

15.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Score: 90
Buy this wine online

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