Big Basin Vineyards

dining rattlesnakeRattlesnake Rock Syrah 2008

Big Basin Vineyards is turning out some incredible wines these days—not the least of which is the Rattlesnake Rock Syrah. Made entirely from grapes grown on Big Basin’s estate in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the 2008 is wondrous nectar to be sure.

On a tasting trip to Big Basin in the spring, I tried many of their excellent wines, but the Syrah bowled me over. Very fruit-forward and bursting with flavor, here is a wine that can hold its own with the best. At an elevation of about 1,400 feet in Boulder Creek, Big Basin’s vineyards have steep hillsides, mountain soils, and a cool climate that produces intense fruit. With all this going for it, all the grapes need are the guiding hand of expert winemaker Bradley Brown.

The Syrah has an added 6 percent of Grenache which Brown says livens up the mid-palate and adds layers of fruit complexity. It also contributes to the intriguing nose, beautiful texture and length. Aged in oak barrels for about 27 months, the resulting wine is a dark-as-night elixir with notes of rusted-iron minerality, red currants, brambleberry, huckleberry, rhubarb and herbs on the nose. On the palate are enormous flavors of peppery dark fruits, spice and jam. Brown suggests pairing the wine with cave-aged Gruyere, farmhouse Cheddar and various kinds of sausage. I like it with almost any kind of cheese, or just on its own to truly experience the wine’s complexities. Not inexpensive —the Syrah retails for $55—but worth the splurge to experience a wine of this quality.

Big Basin’s events are something to look forward to. There is usually plenty of food and music to go along with the wine tasting. Fall Harvest Celebration at the Winery & Estate Vineyards is on Sept. 22 & 23. Check the website for info.

Big Basin Vineyards, 830 Memory Lane, Boulder Creek. Tel: 621-8028. bigbasinvineyards.com. Tasting Room is at 14598 Big Basin Way, Suite B, Saratoga. (408) 564-7346. Open Thursday to Monday noon to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is a tasting fee but if you are a member of Friends of the Vineyards Wine Club, then tasting is free. Wine Club members also get free admission to many of Big Basin’s events.

Wine Events

Morgan Winery is putting on Library Sunday at its tasting room in Carmel. This is an opportunity to sample four premium older vintages hand-picked by winegrower Dan Morgan Lee and winemaker Gianni Abate. From 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16 at the Crossroads Carmel/Rio Road at Highway One, 204 Crossroads Blvd., Carmel, 626-3700. Morganwinery.com. Cost:$20/$10 wine club members.

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