Syrah from the Sta. Rita Hills is typically much later-ripening than other New World examples. Much more savory in style, it exhibits aromas and flavors of ground herbs, pepper, leather, and smoked meats that are bound by a core of dark fruit.
In 1977, Gary Eberle planted Syrah at what was then called Estrella River Winery from suitcase cuttings brought in from the famous Chapoutier property in Hermitage. One of the most widely-planted and highly-coveted syrah selections in the Central Coast, it is late-ripening with loose clusters and soft skins, which delivers a rich, jammy fruit quality to the wines. Estrella makes up the first part of Donna’s Syrah (the other being Clone 1, described below).
Durell is thought to trace back to a single vine of Shiraz (what they call Syrah in the southern hemisphere) planted in 1973 in Victoria, Australia. This selection is prone to viruses, which actually benefits the grape by slowing down photosynthesis and forcing it to ripen later. This clone typically adds striking blueberry and coffee notes to wines.
The second part of Donna’s syrah, Clone 1 is an early-ripening clone originally sourced from Shiraz vines planted in 1868 in Victoria, Australia. Similar to Estrella (the first part of Donna’s), it has loose clusters with soft skin and ripens very well.
This late-ripening French clone was taken directly from the famous Beaucastel Vineyard in the Southern Rhone of France. Showing bigger berries and clusters than most other clones, it typically doesn’t get picked until late November/early December. Prior to harvest, Melville drops half the fruit to ensure that the other half gets ripe, which give even more intense fruit.
Mount Eden is a field selection that originated from a non-Wente Chardonnay line. When Paul Masson immigrated to San Jose in the late 19th century, he established La Cresta vineyard and winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In 1943, Martin Ray took Chardonnay cuttings from Paul Masson’s property and planted them on a nearby 2,000-foot peak called Mt. Eden. This late-ripening, cold-loving clone has low yields with small berries and tight clusters, resulting in intensely concentrated fruit.
This Syrah clone was imported from France in 1995. It is known for its low cluster weight and low yields, resulting in balanced, aromatic wines with cherry fruit flavors.
Originally from Garonne, France, this is a late-ripening clone with open clusters (which discourages fungal disease), resulting in wines that are aromatic and full-bodied with high acidity, deep color, and good tannic structure. This is an extremely popular clone in France, most widely-planted in Hermitage.
A very balanced Syrah clone, this gives ample fruit, solid structure, and a lovely cool-climate Syrah flavor profile. This clone’s small, round, marble-shaped berry has a tight skin, which results in more structured wines.
Clone 877 is a French clone known for lending a strong tannic grip to the mid-palate. In contrast to Clone 383, this clone has an elliptical-shaped berry and softer skin. As it tends to be a big producer, it’s imperative to keep yields in check.