Paul Gordon’s Halcón Vineyards were planted in 2006/07 at 2500+ feet above sea level in Mendocino’s remote, and windswept, cool clime Yorkville Highlands. Situated on a band of ancient uplifted ocean bed of fractured schist shale, mica-schist and silicate-rich rock; extremely similar to the blonde schist of the Côte-Rôtie in the Northern Rhone Valley of France, this gorgeous 2018 Alturas displays some of the same similarities with wine produced from this heralded region. Co-pigmented/fermented with the traditional smidgen of Viognier (4%), there is a wonderful violet-floral, spicy crushed-fine peppercorn aroma mingling with the “red and purple fruits of the loom”. Perfectly ripened with crunchy fresh acidity adding to the balance, delightful to drink now, but more magic should appear with a few more years in the cellar.
Regardless of the winter and early spring cold temps, the typical mid April bud break occurred, but the growing season that followed continued to be deceptively cool. Even though high temperatures closely tracked historical averages, a persistently deep marine layer led to much below average low temperatures except for July and October. The coolness resulted in an extremely extended hang-time — the time from full Syrah veraison to pick was 38 days (as opposed to normal range of 21 to 29 days), The mature Syrah fruit was picked on October 20th (the year before was October 4th.). The wine was co-fermented with 4% Viognier. The Syrah came from various parcels from the vineyard, but predominately the Chave selection. Again 50% whole cluster was used and aged in used neutral oak only. 300 cases. 13.4% alcohol.
“The 2018 Syrah Alturas offers a more vivid, Cote-Rotie-like style and has beautiful notes of black raspberry, spring flowers, peppered meat, and violets. More sappy underbrush and even a kiss of bacon fat emerge with time in the glass. it’s medium-bodied, has a silky, elegant texture, wonderful mid-palate depth, and enough tannins to warrant a year of three of bottle age. Beautifully done, this complex, elegant Syrah is going to evolve for 10-15 years or more.” – 95 points, Jeb Dunnuck, September 2020
“The nose is lush black fruit tart, plum and currant, bittersweet chocolate and lavender. The palate is textured entry of black and red plum, tar and licorice. Already stunning! Drink 2021 to 2034.” 96 points, Doug Wilder PDWR April 2020.