18 Jan Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Etnyre Wines 2018 Syrah, Quin’s Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County
Ever since the movie Sideways put Pinot Noir on the map, people have been saying that Syrah would be the next big thing. But for almost twenty years, Syrah lovers have been waiting. Wine lovers, wine retailers, sommeliers, and winemakers love Syrah for its aromas, acidity, and savory complexity. But time and time again, those who make and sell Syrah say that while it is such great wine, it is impossible to sell! And after all these years, no one really understands why.
Syrah, which has a long history in the Rhone region in southeastern France, is grown around the world. It is also planted in California, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, where is is know as Shiraz. Syrah grows in hot climates and cool climates. Syrah’s taste profile depends on the climate where it is grown and to me, cool-climate Syrah hits the right notes. As I enjoyed the Etnyre Wines 2018 Syrah from Quin’s Vineyard in the San Luis Obispo County, the Please The Palate wine of the week, I thought, if more people drank cool-climate Syrah, it might just finally become the next big thing.
About Etnyre Wines
Etnyre Wines is a micro-winery in the San Luis Obispo Coast owned by Dr. Ethan Etnyre. Growing up in Chicago, Ethan was a wine drinker. In 1992, he and his wife moved to California after medical school. They liked the central coast and settled in Pismo Beach and Ethan noticed all the grapes growing around them. Within 12 days of arriving in California, he had secured some Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that filled a 32-gallon food grade plastic barrel and he made wine in his basement. He was hooked. The next year he made a little Pinot Noir that he got from Brian Talley. In 1995, Ethan and his wife bought a 5-acre property. It had a small house but a big backyard and Ethan know he wanted to plant grapes.
Understanding what grows well in the cool-climate of the central coast, and with the guidance of John Alban, Ethan planted two acres of grapes. Named after his son, Quin’s Vineyard has just two grapes planted, Pinot Noir and Syrah. And also he has one row (15 vines) of Torrontes, a white grape from Argentina. Quin’s Vineyard is a hillside vineyard 3.5 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
Etnyre Wines became a commercial winery in 1992. They produce 250 cases of wine annually and only make two bottlings, a Pinot Noir and a Syrah.
2018 was a good year in the San Luis Obispo Coast. There were no big climatic surprises. The grapes were hand picked and underwent a native fermentation. The Torrontes was co-fermented with the Syrah. There is only 1-2% of Torrontes in the Syrah but adds a lovely floral note to the wine. The 2018 Syrah has a pretty perfumed nose with notes of violets, cherry, blackberry, pomegranate, and a touch of menthol. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied. The acidity and tannins are balanced, leaving a mouthwatering finish.
Food Pairing with Syrah
The Etnyre Wines cool-climate Syrah is a great wine to pair with food. I enjoyed the wine with roasted eggplant but the wine would also be a lovely accompaniment to lamb, perhaps grilled lamb chops with olive oil and salt.
Where to Purchase
Etnyre Wines is a small, garagiste producer. The Syrah, as well as the Pinot Noir (which is a pretty wine with fruit and savory notes), both retail for $40 and are available directly from Etnyre Wines.