2014 Kuleto Syrah, Napa Valley
90 Points - Robert Parker
We at Kuleto Estate still don’t understand why Syrah isn’t more popular with the average consumer. It’s certainly one of our top sellers in our tasting room, probably because it’s always an in-house favorite. There are few places in the Napa Valley with the right combination of shale soils that limit a naturally vigorous variety, constant winds that interrupt bloom yielding open clusters, warm days, cool nights – all of which add up to perfect growing conditions for this primally evocative grape variety. I say ‘primally’ because Syrah has an animal-like nature with its smoky lamb-fat and its rusted iron or wet stone-like character. It might be too rustic with these flavors alone, but our Syrah is also loaded with the smells and flavors of wild blueberries and lavender. I mean, come on! What’s not to love about that? Vintage 2014 had absolutely everything going for it, so we kept it pure and simple and aged it in larger format barrels (500 L rather than 225 L) without racking to preserve its essence.
99% Syrah, 1% Malbec
18 months in 50% new Hungarian François Frères 500 L oak puncheons
We in the Napa Valley have suffered an embarrassment of riches in terms of having a string of exceptional vintages in recent years. Starting in 2012 and continuing through 2015, each has provided near ideal conditions for ripening fruit perfectly. None, however, stands out in our memory like the 2014. For sheer volume of aroma and flavor in every variety we grow on the estate, 2014 is extraordinary.
Kuleto is one of the most complex and diverse wine producing properties in the world. Located in the volcanic mountains of eastern Napa, our estate features 781 total acres and 82.9 acres of vines perched along ridges and clinging to steep hillsides. Our soils, exposures, elevation changes and sub-climates are so complex that we’ve delineated our property into more than 100 micro-blocks. Each of these tiny plots is treated as an individual vineyard with varieties, clones, rootstocks, density, trellising and farming methods tailored specifically to the site. For winemaker Dave Lattin, there is a mutual understanding that all but a small percentage of the winemaker’s work is done in the vineyard. Keeping the vineyard’s serpentine twists and exposures in mind, the best-suited varietals for each block have been selected. Working with the land, not against it, the individually terraced lots are not oriented to one central direction, but instead are planted to maximize the benefits of their natural location.
Only 292 cases produced