Vineyard and Region Information: Justin Lacau was a Frenchman who tended vines from the end of prohibition through the late 1960's on the same site Big Basin Vineyards calls home today. Justin purchased this plot which had been originally planted by a few other Frenchmen at the turn of the 20th century. These first vingerons then sold the land and abandoned the vineyards as soon as prohibition was passed. The local mountain folk simply referred to Justin as 'Frenchie', a name he clearly embraced on the sign welcoming you to his property. A photograph of this sign now adorns the bottle of our Estate Reserve Syrah - a tribute to the long standing history of grape growing and winemaking in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Vintage Notes: 2014 was a terrific follow-on to the very strong 2013 vintage with aromatics that have been impressing us, depth to the fruit and the structure to age. The third year of drought kept berry size small, intensifying flavors and forming supple tannins. Weather throughout the growing season and into harvest was as good as one could expect. Good weather during flowering provided us with good yields and ripening was very even throughout each of the blocks.
Wine Notes: We selected three new hogshead (300l) barrels and two neutral barriques (228l) for the 2014 Frenchies (66% new). In a similar fashion to the 2013 vintage, we selected barrels that represented most of the Syrah blocks we had planted. The first barrel came from the first pick from the top of Rattlesnake Rock block on September 10th. The second barrel came from the first pick at the top of our Old Corral block on September 13. On September 16th, we picked several more sections of Rattlesnake Rock and barrels from two different lots were included in Frenchies. We picked that last grapes on September 20th from our 42 Terraces block and one barrel from this lot was also selected for the final blend.
The aromatics jump out of the glass and immediately the complexity of this wine was apparent. There is a melange of black fruit, wild berries, subtle savory notes, and of course, violets and lavender. On the palate, the wine is vibrant and intense with substantial tannins that carry the finish across the palate. And wow, what a finish! The fruit is abundant through and through with blackberries, huckleberries, figs, and plums all present. The oak is very well integrated and only comes through as a hint of sweetness at the end. This is the most full throttle expression of our Estate Syrah and a wine to enjoy with special company. It is drinking like a baby now, and will certainly improve with more years in the bottle, so there will be plenty of time to find the right occasion to open a bottle.
Wine Reviews: ”Incorporating a splash of Viognier, the 2013 Syrah Frenchies Ranch offers an exotic bouquet of blackberries, blueberries, mint, peach pit and sappy herbs. Rich, concentrated and structured, with lots of fruit, it has a great texture and a good finish. It needs short term cellaring to gain some integration and elegance, but is solid stuff."- Jeb Dunnuck, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
"The 2013 Syrah Frenchies Ranch is rich, unctuous and textured, much of that the result of having spent 39 months in 100% new French oak. The extended time in barrel softens the contours but also gives the wine a slightly forward character in its aromatics. This is another impeccably crafted wine from Big Basin. Still, there is terrific textural depth and plushness to the fruit. The 2013 has turned out beautifully" - Antonio Galloni, Vinous