Burgess Syrah 2009

Burgess vineyard on Howell Mountain

I always find a reason to check in on Napa’s steady-Eddie, old school producer Burgess Cellars – not the least of which stems from a fairly recent visit to its grounds on Howell Mountain. As I’ve noted before, the winery exudes tenure, from its staying power (Tom Burgess purchased it in 1972) to the sage practice of releasing wines with considerable bottle age. I mean, how many recently-released California reds do you find on the shelf with five years of maturity under their corks?

burgess-syrahA recent excuse to take notice was the Burgess Syrah 2009, in my local premium shop. I knew the contents would be altitude-grown, estate fruit from sloped grounds just north of downtown St. Helena. In fact, the grapes (100% Syrah) were sourced from the eastern side of the mountain and Burgess’s Yountville vineyard. The yield, in the winery’s estimation, more closely resembles a red of the Rhone than the offspring of Napa’s hyperactive loins.

Merveilleux, I say. For the very approachable PLCB tariff of $14.99, you can stock up freely.

The wine’s color is a quick first impression, all midnight purple intensity. What follows is the brambly, slightly charred oak nose. It becomes subtly herbaceous, too, which carries onto the palate. Big bodied and bold, it brings a richness that sidesteps overbearing and a quality of fruit that isn’t a mark for over-extraction. Throw in some stinging acidity, too. In a word, balance.

Actually, the juice comes through lean and energetic. There’s charcoal and earth, dark dark and reddish fruit and spice. Look for the berries (raspberry/blueberry jam but don’t think in-your-yap Aussie) to poke through with about an hour in the glass.

An excellent match for the hearty meals of the season, especially red meat and stews. 14.3% alcohol by volume.

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