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yrah has many attributes: big, luscious and framed with masculine tannins. Yet, Syrah can be alluringly balanced with dark fruit and elegant floral aspects. It is not surprising to learn that the French call it "La Syrah" - one of the few feminine varieties. So, think of Syrah as a ballerina who took up kick boxing and has an attitude.

2008 Renard Syrah, Sonoma County
Les Gitanes

The Sonoma bottling is a combination of experimental lots from Unti Vineyards in Dry Creek and the hillside Kick Ranch in the Rincon Valley. The juxtaposition of these cool and warm climate components were a great compliment to one another. On the nose, the aromatics are of tobacco, red licorice and orange peel. The palate shows off the bright fruit accents and natural berry acidity which are characteristic of Syrah, followed by a broad mid-palate of juicy, dark blackberry and lush plum. A lovely, well-integrated acidity lengthens the finish.

Les Gitanes was added to this label for a few  reasons – the wine is a blend of two vineyards and that requires a lot of travel. During harvest I feel like a bit of a gypsy (gitane), and sometimes I am even nostalgic about my first harvest in Southern France back in 1979, when I was foolish enough to smoke cigarettes (also named Gitanes).

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2008 Renard Syrah, Kick Ranch Vineyard, Rincon Valley

The Advocate

Kick Ranch is a hillside vineyard that presents an ideal view of the surrounding area south of Santa Rosa, and the Petaluma gap. This is an important feature in that the frequent fog of this area creates a cool climate ideal for the classic proportions of a true Rhône style Syrah. I have selected this vineyard designate from one of the three different clones I harvest from the site. The Hermitage clone in particular is exceptional in terms of its ability to express Syrah spices and floral elements. The aromatics show an earthy mélange of tar, spice, white pepper, and cassis, while the palate is an expansive impression of rich, dark fruit and exotic spices. A dense and silky texture (more reminiscent of a Cabernet, but still in touch with its feminine side) creates a long, creamy finish – what my wife would describe as, “Yummy!”

About The Advocate:
The vineyard owner, Dick Keenan is a high powered San Francisco lawyer, or advocate. Thus, I make a nod to him and his vineyard with the emblem of the gavel.

171 six packs produced
$42 btl / $252 6-pack

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2007 Renard Syrah, Truchard Vineyard
The Carneros appellation holds a great geologic diversity and hence a divergent soil selection. One of the exceptional soil profiles is a volcanic tuff, which is essentially the layered powdery detritus from the explosions of an ancient volcano. Thus, this Southern most site from Truchard has soil which drains very well until the profile hits limestone below. The vineyard also has a stellar view of the San Pablo Bay area. As you stand at the top of the vine rows, you look South and West to the Bay and off in the distance to Mount Tamalpais. This orientation and the resultant constant cool Bay breeze is perhaps the most influential factor that produces the impressive white pepper, mescal like spice which delineates Syrah from other varieties. Indeed, I find this characteristic a rarity in the New World, but it is one of my favorite attributes to Côte Rotie and Crôzes Hermitage.

This Syrah is intensely colored, yet suggests its feminine, floral side. The aromas are a dead ringer for the real Rhône thing, with the white pepper/mescal notes, but I still find the meatier aspects along with some of the exotic floral components enhanced by a lighter touch of lifted 20% new French oak (the same cooper Chave uses). The structure of the wine is weighty for such cool climate spice, and the natural acidity frames the long finish.

Robert Parker: "The 2007 Syrah Truchard Vineyard exhibits plenty of forest floor, acacia flowers, black currant, and blackberry notes, light tannins, and medium to full body, with a gamey mouthfeel and good fruit."

248 cases produced $28 btl / $336 case

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2011 Renard Syrah, California Blend

The People's wine

As is typical, the 20011 California Syrah has multiple pedigrees and maintains the same desire: make a domestic Syrah that actually tastes like Syrah and not a jelly donut! This wine replaces the French wines from the Rhône that are selling for 20-30 dollars (the exchange rate is killing them). The blend consists of Westerly vineyard in Santa Ynez, Unti vineyard in Dry Creek, along with Ballentine in St. Helena, and I threw in a little Kick Ranch Viognier to pop up the aromatics. My recent tasting notes indicate my personal bias for the following: aromas of roasted meat, earth, smoke, cassis, cranberry, and dried fruits. The palate is lush, round and bright, with a compelling core of vibrant, straight forward dark fruit and meatiness that screams old world.

When I started making Renard wines in '95 I always wanted to make a value priced wine that many people could enjoy and afford, including myself. This wine achieves that and I hope will make a lot of Syrah believers out there. The problem is I did not make enough!!

322 cases produced and will be gone before you know it
$18 btl / $216 case

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