2005 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Mandala- USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains (3/28/2010)
As always with Big Basin Syrah’s the nose was very distinct, ripe flowery fruit with a vanilla bean essence. The palate is a clear copy of the nose with blueberry, vanilla, some earth, and sweet cream. Most of tannin structure that this had earlier in it’s life is gone now and is clearly entering a phase where there is some secondary components coming forward now. I must admit that I preferred this wine when the fruit was younger and had more brightness and grip to it. Overall nice and very distinct flavor profile that is original to all the Big Basin estate grown Syrah’s.
Kimberly and I opened the 05 Rattlesnake Rock last week(thanks Brian L.) and it was stunning. Very complex nose with perfectly balanced fruit/wood/acidity and layers of cool climate Syrah flavors. Bradley is the man.
The 2005 Mandala was the wine that opened my eyes to Big Basin. I was hooked instantly. Balanced and tasty, with that unique Big Basin flavor. IIRC, the Mandala is mostly Rattlesnake Rock fruit with the balance Fairview Ranch, so if you like RR, you’ll love the Mandala. Likely not the intellectual equal of the RR, but no less tasty.
For me, only Copain (and maybe Peay) can compete with Big Basin for California Syrah, although I’m looking forward to the Rhys estate (Horshoe, Skyline) syrahs. It seems that Syrah has potential in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
I’ve had both, but unfortunately I didn’t take notes on either. I can recall that both are a bit bigger and more dense than the past couple of BB vintages. The trademark BB balance and silkiness is there, but the fruit is a bit darker and more brooding. In 07 the Mandala is about 1/7th cabernet-which is a change, and although I’m no fan of cabernet, it seemed to add a bit of structure and edginess.
Both were good, but at this point in time they push the envelope just a bit for my palate. Don’t get me wrong, I still dig the stuff, but I think both-especially the Mandala-will tone down in a year or two and be excellent. At $28 the Monterey/SCM is a decent buy, but the Mandala at$35 is a fair deal as well.
-The Rhys '07 Skyline is spectacular and the '07 Horseshoe ain’t too shabby.
-In '09 I believe Stefania got some SCM Syrah from a vineyard Ian Brand manages.
-The Nelson Family vineyard (north and higher elevation from Big Basin) was suffering from mediocre vineyard management, but that seems to have been somewhat rectified, judging from Downhill Wines Syrah/Grenache blend more recently.
-Big Basin Vineyard has a lot of Syrah on their estate. Their version (club only) is pretty good, as is the Flemming Jenkins. Testarosa is also sourcing the fruit (beginning '08?)
-I was talking to Jim Schultze (Windy Oaks) today and he mentioned someone wanted him to plant some in the Corralitos area. He doubts it’ll ripen every year, but the project is probable.
-David Bruce had some good Syrah, but regrafted it several years ago. I remember trying the last vintage and it was excellent.
-Fogarty has some in Los Gatos.
It sounds like Big Basin’s gorgeous '08 Grenache went into the Mandala.
Thanks, Wes. I’lll watch for some of those, particularly the Stefania. I always wondered about Windy Oaks-I’m sure that would be a good one. Although I’m looking forward to the Rhys Horseshoe this fall, I hope production is high enough that I will get an allocation. Interesting news about the Grenache in the Mandala in 08. It’s becoming more of a Jambalaya than a Mandala-toss in a little bit of this/that. Who cares-it’s still delicious.