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Calcareous syrah wins sweepstakes at San Francisco wine competition 

The Winners of The 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

The Winners of The 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Calcareous Vineyards of Paso Robles won the sweepstakes award for best red at The 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. A panel of 60 judges gave the award to the 2010 Calcareous Vineyard Syrah. It retails for $40 a bottle.

The San Francisco International Wine Competition is one of the largest and most respected competitions in the United States. Thousands of wineries submitted 5,800 entries.

A public tasting of the winners will be help Feb. 15 at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Read more about other winners on the competition’s website.

Winery’s tasting notes on the 2010 Calcareous Vineyard Syrah

2010 Calcareous Vineyard SyrahThis wine is an exemplary example of the dark, meaty style that defines Paso Robles Syrah. The inky purple color indicates full extraction and body, as does the heavy aromas of plum and caramel. Full bodied cream, mocha and bramble berry coat the palate as the natural acid and barrel softened tannins supply ample structure. Vanilla and smoked bacon from the French oak barrels combine with leathery fruit to supply a long spicy finish, showing off a wine built to last. Powerful now, will drink beautifully well past 2020.

The estate syrah was planted in 2002. This bottling is comprised of several picks from both Block 6 (Estrella Clone) and Block 8 (877 Clone). These blocks are planted on what is the most exposed Calcareous “soil” in our entire vineyard. The extremely steep hillsides give almost no perch for top soil to form, so these vines are forced to survive on pure calcium carbonate. Although very difficult to maintain the health of the vines, the extremely concentrated fruit produced makes this wine the truest expression of our terroir.

Winemaker notes

2010 was a classic vintage in Paso Robles, with a perfect combination of stressful and ideal growing conditions.  This helps create fruit of distinction and character without pushing so far as to compromise health of the vines or fruit.  Harvested by hand, the clusters were destemmed and hand sorted before being gravity fed uncrushed into 2-ton open top stainless tanks.  The fruit was cold soaked, blanketed in carbon dioxide, for 3 days to maximize extraction of color and upfront fruit.  During primary fermentation, we used a gentle routine of 2 daily punch downs and a delestage every 5th day.  The ferments spent a total of 25-29 days on skins.  The completed ferments were gently pressed and racked directly to barrel.  The wine was racked once on completion of malolactic fermentation and a small amount of Estate Grenache was blended in to aid in balance.  The wine was aged for 28 months in 20% new French oak barrels and 20% new American oak Puncheons. The remaining cooperage used once used barrels as to not overpower the fruit with oak tannins and aromas.

Other Paso Robles winning wines

Six other wines took home Best of Class awards at the competition. They were are Adelaida Cellars for its 2012 Finder, LXV Wine for its 2012 Summer Satine, Niner Wine Estates for its 2009 Fog Catcher and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sculpterra Winery for its 2010 Marquette and Thacher Winery for its 2011 Petite Sirah.

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About the author: Publisher Scott Brennan

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.