This soon-to-be released wine is from one of the most distinctive wineries in California (see my profile here). Winemaker Scott Sampler’s vision is to make wines using ripe, California fruit and old world winemaking techniques. He macerates his reds up to 140 days before pressing just as they did years ago in Barolo.
Made from grapes harvested from a relatively cool site, White Hawk Vineyard near Los Alamos in Santa Barbara County, 20% of this Syrah was vinified whole cluster and all of it spends 101 days on the skins in neutral barrels before being pressed and bottled on the same day.
The result is a wine as deep as an ocean but with life ”errant and flamboyant” to rob a phrase from the poet Baudelaire. The reference to bawdy Baudelaire is appropriate. “Behind the Purple Door” references the film “Behind the Green Door”, which those of us of a certain age might remember as a popular porn film from the 1970’s. “Purple” of course refers to the color of highly extracted Syrah and the color of the prose needed to describe this wine.
Lush and full up front, acidity enters early and explodes, a quick crescendo of floral and mineral top notes with taut, drawn out tension. Juicy and mouthwatering, the seamless tannin/acid synergy adds great intensity to the wine, propagating prickly sensations with an underlying fineness of grain imparting layers of texture on the finish.
Seductive aromas of blackberry, coffee, freshly turned earth, violets and a bit of crushed rock framed against a musky background, are joined by charcoal and mocha on the palate for an olfactory orgy worthy of Dionysius himself.
To be consumed only with a partner glowing with desire accompanied by the tumult and mystery of Bjork’s Hidden Place.
Price: $79 (purchase here)
Review based on an industry sample. Updated on 9/9/18