The third installment of the Unknown does not disappoint. I introduced the Unknown in 2006 – my inaugural vintage. In 2007, I created the Villain to complement the Unknown. This year I decided to combine the two cuvees. The current version is composed of five different vineyards, eight different clones, and blends elements of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties – the Unknown is a villainously styled Syrah.

As with the last two vintages, Kick Ranch is the core of the Unknown. Kick ’s mineral laden fruit components from the 877, 470, and Hermitage clones are unmistakable in the 2008. Further Sonoma County accents come from two Bennett Valley stalwart vineyards Jemrose and a new vineyard for Shane, Judge. From Jemrose, the 174 and 470 clones provide depth and nuanced spice elements. From Judge, the 877, Estrella River, and 174 clones lend excellent structure, exotic fruit, and layers of texture.

Mendocino highlights come from Alder Springs (clones 99, 383, 174, and 470) and Broken Leg (clone Shiraz 1). Both vineyards were fermented with a significant percentage of whole cluster and their spice, game, and forest floor elements as well as firm tannins shine throughout the Unknown.

Fermented with seventy-five percent whole cluster, aged in twenty-five percent new French oak for ten months, and bottled without fining or filtration, the Unknown melds new world and old world flavors impeccably. It is the most balanced and complete Unknown to date.

There is no lack of color here. It’s like liquid onyx in the glass. Exotic and intense perfume of blueberries, violets, blackberries, lilies, boysenberry, and dark chocolate layered over wet stone. Cracked black peppercorn, graphite, plum, tar, bacon fat, mineral, and anise lace the mid-palate. The tannins are more refined than in previous years. They support a juicy core and provide excellent structure. Minimal oak impact – the wine is pure syrah.