Text Size:-+

2000 Grapeleaf Cellars Syrah, Sonoma

Grapeleaf Cellars is a very small winery and custom crush facility in Berkeley, California. I'm not sure if it has the claim to fame of being the only winery in Berkeley, but it's the only one that I know of. The proprieter and winemaker Tom Leaf has been making wine there for several years.

I've met Tom on a number of occasions and have had several opportunities to visit his modest but serviceable facilities in Berkeley. Tom sources his grapes from places all over the California wine country -- Sonoma, Paso Robles, Amador County, to name a few. He produces wine in small lots and focuses primarily on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with dabblings of Syrah and Zinfandel, matching each varietal and batch of grapes with carefully chosen barrels. Tom is very particular about his oak, and having tasted wine with him on several occasions, its clear that he has an often uncanny ability to identify the type of oak used in a given wine, something my palate has not even begun to approach.

In this case, Tom has chosen particularly ripe grapes from the Nicholson Ranch area of Sonoma, near the B.R. Cohn Winery, and fermented them in medium toast french oak, leaving the wine with a surprisingly distinctive flavor. Tom thinks that this is one of the best wines he has made.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is dark -- brooding dark red, and that darkness is echoed in its nose which, right out of the bottle, is extremely un-syrah like. When I first smelled the wine I thought it was a Cabernet because of the extremely heavy chocolate and cherry aromas, tinged with a bit of jasmine. As the wine opened up over the next hour, these aromas shifted to more blackberry and other jammy notes that one would expect from a syrah. In the mouth the wine is cool and clean with blackberry and blueberry flavors with hints of black pepper. The finish is somewhat astringent, with a slight hint of medicinal quality, but a solid wine nonetheless.

Food Pairing:
This is a good barbecue wine, and one that would go well with spicy foods. I'd be tempted to try it with beef and andouille burgers with asiago cheese.

Overall Score: 8.5/9

How much?: $25

You may purchase these wines directly from Tom:

Grapeleaf Cellars
805 Camelia St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 527-1305

Buy My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

Vinography Images: Cold Snap Cincinnati Here I Come! Happy Thanksgiving from Vinography Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 23, 2014 Putting a Cork in Your Thanksgiving Wine Anxiety Plumbing the Depths of Portugal: A Tasting Journey Vinography Images: Rain at Last The Mysterious Art of Selling Direct Critical Consolidation in Wine What Has California Got Against Wineries?

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.