Sta. Rita Hills
Buying fruit by the acre rather than the ton can be painful sometimes—whether you harvest three tons or a third of a ton to the acre, you pay the same. And so 2015 was a painful year at John Sebastiano Vineyard. When I walked through our syrah rows after fruit set it was such a bummer to see what 3 years of hard drought had done; there appeared to be no crop really. The vines were just thinking about survival. Ultimately we did get a crop, but at a third of a ton to the acre we harvested a paltry fraction of what we would in a more normal year.
There’s always some excitement over drought vintages because the stress and low yields are thought to make better wines. That isn’t a given, but it sure worked out that way with this wine! Those few and little syrah clusters packed an enormous amount of flavor, giving a terrific expression of all that mysterious beauty I love about cool-climate syrah.
For instance, there’s always an exotic aroma to our syrah from these windswept slopes, and in this 2015 it’s so vivid it takes one’s mind to distant Baroque cathedrals laced with incense smoke. That, five spice, bay leaf and purse leather aromas all dominate, and on the palate there’s those vibrant dark red fruits and powdery fine tannins that are becoming a JSV signature. This one is open, impactful and elegant already, and despite its merciful structure it’s going to evolve gracefully on its density of flavor.
Blend: 100% Syrah | Alc: 13.5% | Vinification: Open top fermentation with 33% whole clusters | Barrel Aging: 18 Months in neutral French Oak | Total Production: 213 Cases
There are just 200 cases of the 2015 Syrah John Sebastiano Special Bottlings, but it’s another beauty that’s worth the extra effort to track down. Perfumed notes of sandalwood, barbecue smoke, pepper, and both red and black fruits all emerge from the glass and it changed beautifully every time I came back to it. Possessing medium to full-bodied richness, integrated acidity, and moderate tannins, it’s a rock star bottle of wine to enjoy over the coming 10-12 years. Jeb Dunnuck- 95 Points
Antonio Galloni’s VINOUS
A stunning wine, the 2015 Syrah John Sebastiano Special Bottling is simply tremendous, even after all the other whites and reds that precede it in this comprehensive survey of new releases. I am blown away by the wine’s immense freshness, nuance and aromatic intensity, all of which are quite rare for a wine of this site. The whole clusters are nearly buried by the voluptuousness of the inky dark red and purplish berry fruit. Readers who can find the 2015 should not miss it, as it is monumental. 2020-2030 Antonio Galloni- 95 Points