The second edition of the Judge Vineyard builds upon the vibrant fruit elements found in its predecessor. A striking contrast to the Jemrose Vineyard, the Judge Vineyard offers intense blue and black fruit elements up front that are backed by sensual floral and spice overtones. The Judge Vineyard is a true expression of California Syrah. It hints at its French roots, with a focus on purity of fruit flavors rather than jam, but it throttles forward in a more exuberant fashion reminiscent of California swagger.

Just a few miles to the northwest of the Jemrose Vineyard, the Judge Vineyard lies in a rocky swale often enveloped by the dense morning fog. It sits at a lower elevation than its neighbor Jemrose and sees the sun later in the day. Further, the vineyard has a slight east-west slope dotted with larger rocks and often pockets of cool air hang well into the day. Thus, the Judge Vineyard is harvested later than the Jemrose Vineyard and crop yields need to be closely monitored to assure proper grape maturity.

Due to its more refined tannins and fruit-forward nature, I decided to bottle the Judge Vineyard prior to the 2010 harvest and after ten months in barrel. I wanted to capture the brilliance of the fruit elements and I felt bottle aging, rather than barrel aging, would accomplish this goal. I hope you will agree.

Picked on the 28th of October, fermented with fifty percent whole clusters, equal parts 877, 174, and Estrella River clones, aged for ten months in forty percent new French oak, and bottled without fining or filtration, the 2009 Judge Vineyard Syrah captures the brightness of Syrah. One hundred cases produced.

Want fruit? The wine explodes with layers of blueberries, boysenberries, and violets. The Judge Vineyard is seductive and pretty. It unfurls over fine- grained tannins with sumptuous elements of kirsch, cigar box, and graphite. The more refined tannins provide a supple bridge to a spirited finish of anise, blackberries, and dark chocolate.