Compared to other red grapes like merlot, cabernet sauvignon or cabernet franc, you just don’t see a lot of syrah being grown on Long Island. And you don’t find many varietal Syrahs — that is wines made of at least 75 percent Syrah with that word printed on the label.
Maybe I’ll get into the reasons why in an upcoming column, but for now just know that there just aren’t that many. But, they always seem to stand out in my tastings. Maybe it’s just the novelty of them — they have entirely different flavor profiles than those other red grapes — but I almost always like them. Maybe not as much as I like Syrah from the Northern Rhone, but still, I feel like there is unrealized potential for this grape here on the North Fork.
Our “Wine of the Week,” Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard 2014 Syrah, hints at that potential.
The Syrah for this wine grows in a vineyard on Alvah’s Lane that co-owner/winemaker Anthony Sannino has been managing for five years.
“I only have one acre of Syrah there, so that would not produce an abundance of fruit,” he said. “But it’s of a quality that I find to be slightly different than most Syrah I have had on the North Fork.”
In prior vintages, I’ve found this wine to be a bit too oaky, but the 2014 shows beautiful freshness and varietal character without a heavy oak footprint.
“I am not a fan of using American oak in general and especially not with Long Island Syrah,” Sannino told me. Here, he used 20 percent new French oak barrels with a few two- and three-year old Hungarian oak barrels.
The nose smells like just-crushed blueberries and black cherries with a sprinkling of black pepper and other savory spice.
Medium bodied, the palate is juicy and fresh with more black and blue berry fruit along with layers of violets and black pepper spice. Soft tannins couple with a certain freshness to the acidity to bring structure to what ends up being a rather polished wine with a finish that lingers nicely. It’s not super complex in its youth, but some secondary and tertiary flavors should develop with bottle age.
What do eat with this spicy red? Sannino says, “This wine is my grilled rack of lamb wine with a side tomato, red onion and fresh basil salad drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.”
Bottled in March and released shortly thereafter, this wine is available in the winery’s Peconic Lane tasting room for $30.