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10.21.2004

2001 Acorn Winery "Axiom" Syrah, Sonoma

When I get a chance to write about wines like this, I feel like I am really succeeding in what I wanted to do when I set out on the journey to create Vinography. While I had no (and still don't have) official mission statement detailing what I wanted this site to be, one of my definite goals is to find great wines that aren't well known, that are made by good people, and that won't break the bank.

This lovely little Syrah made by the folks at Acorn Winery in Healdsburg is a perfect example of such a wine. Acorn specializes in field-blend wines. This means that they intentionally interplant different varietals together (that they intend to mix together in the wine later) and then they harvest, crush and ferment these grapes together to make the final wine. It's a very different approach than a lot of vintners take -- most want to treat each grape differently to bring out its particular characteristics with different oak, etc, and then blend things later on. This specificity and technique is actually a relatively modern invention, however. Once upon a time field-blended wines were the most common.

The field in discussion here is actually the Alegria (literally "happiness") Vineyard, a benchland vineyard of rounded rocks in the Russian River Valley that has been farmed for grapes since the 1850's. Winery owner and winemaker Bill Nachbaur revived the old Zinfandel vineyard on the site in 1990 and planted several more varietals including Dolcetto, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Alicante, and Bouschet. Bill and his wife Betsy traditionally have sold about 90% of their grapes to other wineries, but starting in 1996 they began bottling under their own label and have gradually increased production levels to about 2300 cases.

This particular wine is a single-vineyard designate field blend of 99% Syrah and 1% Viognier. As described above, these grapes are harvested and crushed together, then fermented in a mix of French and American oak, and then aged in the same barrels for 17 months before bottling.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is a deep blood red in color and has a delicious nose of cherries, vanilla and chocolate, with a light floral element to the nose that is the unmistakable trace of the Viognier. In the mouth it is lush with flavors of blackberry and cherry and a spicy element that extends through the meaty finish.

Food Pairing:
I think, like most Syrahs this is a great one for grilled meats of any kind, and given the chance I would love to serve it with grilled duck and olives.

Overall Score: 8.5/9

How Much?: $24

There isn't much of this stuff on the market. There are a couple of Internet retailers that carry it but at extremely marked up prices. For those in California, however, it should be relatively easy to get from the winery itself. Give them a call at: 707-433-6440.

Comments (4)

Earl wrote:
10.24.04 at 4:38 PM

Acorn is indeed one of those hard to find wineries...their Zinfandel (Alegara vinyards)and their dolcetto are also wonderful....I'll have to write tasting notes on them...They do not have a wine club (to my dismay since I am in Chicago) but the do offer "progressive" case discounts through the year..e.g. buy 2 cases get a bigger discount on your third...also they do an open house during the taste of the valley (I think it is called) around the middle of January...

Steve from San Carlos wrote:
11.17.05 at 1:54 PM

Went to Acorn last weekend. A great visit and their wines...all of them...are superb. One of the most enjoyable winery visits I've ever had.

Tom Graham wrote:
11.20.05 at 6:16 PM

Visited Acorn this week while vacationing in the Russian River valley. The Nachbaurs were most gracious and we tasted all the wines available. The Syrah and the Zinfandel '03s were especially wonderful so we ordered two mixed cases to join the wine club. This will allow us to order futures of their wines. These are superb handcrafted wines. I strongly recommend a visit [by appt. only].

GARY wrote:
01.12.06 at 1:45 PM

HAS ANYONE CHECKED OUT THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK IN FAIR PLAY, CA? DK CELLARS HAS MANY OUTSTANDING WINES AND ARE WORTH CHECKING OUT. DAVE AND KIM PRATT WILL BE RELEASING A 2002 ZIN THAT IS OUTSTANDING AND THEIR 2002 CABERNET RESERVE THAT SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. AS THE FELLOW SAYS " IF I'M LIE N' I'M DIE N'"

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