What's the Deal?
For almost a decade now, Syrah has been seen by many as the Okanagan's ticket to red wine greatness. It's not that there aren't other great reds being produced, but when we make Syrah well, it seems the most likely to carve out a niche that the entire world might gravitate to in the same way that people go gaga—and happily pay $100+ for—the Syrah made by our neighbours to the south in Washington state. But it hasn't really happened in the way people were hoping for. In part, it's because we make a lot of good Syrah that lacks the focus to be great Syrah. It delivers the fruit well enough, there's decent structure and length, but it's missing that immediate jumpstart to the palate that great Syrah has. Part of the problem lies in confidence: we're often so concerned with making good Syrah that we don't roll the dice and to dare to dream of greatness. The wines are too rich and too boozy, and the savoury character of the grape gets a bit lost in all that ample fruit. This wine took the chance at greatness, and it pays off big time.
What's in the Bottle?
Stag's Hollow, under former owners Larry Gerelus and Linda Pruegger (they recently sold to Eric Liu) always had an adventurous streak, and their former winemaker Dwight Sick (now of Amulet Wines) was—and still is—a maestro with Rhone varietals and new winemaker Keira LeFranc is carrying on that fine tradition. I hate to be one of those people who's always asking about alcohol percentage, but here the 13.5% does indicate that there were some judicious picking decisions and grape selections going on in their Amalia Vineyard in Osoyoos, a spot where, left unchecked, Syrah could get very very ripe. But there's none of that excess here — instead the pepper jumps right out on the palate, followed by truly classic Syrah notes: saddle leather, then bacon fried in a cast-iron pan over a campfire. Then the fruit comes to the party—damson plums, maybe even figs. There's aromatic lift provided by just a hair over 1% of Viognier. Everything is working together.
Should I buy?
100% yes. If this wine was from Washington state it would have a raft of 92+ point ratings (and a few 95+ ones) and would sell out at $105USD a bottle. I truly believe that. I would happily go to a Rhone Rangers shoot out and put this wine against anything from Washington or California. A big winner here.