TN: 2020 Tensley Syrah (USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County)

  • 2020 Tensley Syrah - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (1/18/2022)
    Day 1: Big style but not over the top. Black pepper, blackberries, minerals, red currants, floral and exotic spices. Medium plus finish and drinking well on a pop and pour. 92 points
    Day 2: Fruit is the star on day 2 with blackberries, blueberries and cherry. Also featuring spice, floral, minerals and roasted red peppers. This is a bigger style Syrah but is balanced. 92 points
    Day 3: This is why I do 3 Day Wine Reviews! Totally mellowed out and is better than day 1/2. Blueberries, raspberries, black pepper, spices, floral, exotic spices and minerals. It was never a hot wine on day 1 or 2 but was pretty intense. This needs some cellar time. 93 points
    Recommendation: Half a day decant if consuming now. I would hold these until 2025 and beyond. (93 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker


Tensley has flown under the radar in Los Olivos for several years. Their Colson canyon was recently in JD’s top 10 for 2021 and they are doing some cool things. My wife and I recently stopped by and they took great care of us. Right down the way from Larry and Tercero. Check them both out if you are in town.

Thanks for the note. I picked up a couple last month. Still holding onto several '19s so I appreciate the sacrifice.

Tensley has always been a go-to producer to keep stocked in my cellar

We were at Tensley over the weekend and enjoyed both their Colson Canyon and Laird Vineyard Syrah. Picked up 2 bottles of their $18 Fundamental Red blend to waive the $15 tasting fee!

Working the system - well done . . .

At $20 no sacrifice at all. Can’t believe how cheap these are.

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We ran out of Tensley 2 years ago before the pandemic. We were intending to get more but usually buy it at the winery so later this year.

No I don’t work for wine but will pass this along to the board. Free shipping on a mixed case or just do a case of teh Colson Canyon for $34.99.

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I love Syrah sourced from Santa Barbara County and have had a number of Tensley’s both premium offerings and low end bottles and they never really capture my attention. I think it has to do with typicity. I haven’t had one that reflects what a Syrah should deliver. Could be me or could just be his house style. Maybe I need to give it a try again.

They are certainly not Northern Rhone like I will say that. To me they are bigger in style but not over the top. Fruit forward might be a good descriptor of the style.

Do you like more Rhone like Syrah? If so tons from the rocks district in Oregon.

Joey has been a ‘leader’ in SBC Syrah for quite some time. His Colson Canyon Syrah, a vineyard he now owns, has been a perennial WS Top 100 wine (for what that’s worth). He definitely has a ‘style’ as Michael points out and, to me, his syrahs need a few years on them to begin to differentiate each offering.

Not sure he flies ‘under the radar’ in our area - he’s well known and has been for quite some time. What has happened is that so many more producers in our area have emerged and offer syrahs and other rhones that are equally as enticing. What he does offer is consistency and fair pricing, something that others in our area and points north seem to have more challenges doing.


I like the anise, black raspberry, pepper, tapenade, smoked meats notes wherever I can find them.

Try some K’s out of Washington. Good prices and usually have some if not all those characteristic. Here is a recent note:
2016 K Vintners Syrah Motor City Kitty Oldfield-Boushey Vineyard - USA, Washington (12/27/2021)
Day 1: Last bottle of this steal of a deal for $20.00. Black olives, spice, earth, roasted meats, black pepper and stone. Super complex and tasty wine. Outstanding value. 92 points
Day 2: This was great on a pop and pour. Not nearly as good on day 2 and lacks the complexity of day 1.
Recommendation: Pop and pour and enjoy. I would drink these on the younger side but a few more years of cellaring won’t hurt. (92 points)
Posted from CellarTracker

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Tasted at Tensley last fall for the first time. Spur of the moment thing, and they could accommodate us. All three of us enjoyed everything poured. All wines tended to be a bit more fruit forward than most of the wines we had tasted from the area, but not over the top or over oaked. Just a good balance.

Santa Barbara Syrah is easily my favorite of all wines.
Besides Tensley there are many other great producers:

Holus Bolus

Probably more that I have not found yet.

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Love Ojai and Melville. I have not tried Tercero yet. I heard Larry posts on the boards on occasion! Larry I will order a six pack this Spring and give it the full 3 day wine review treatment! [snort.gif]

The 2015 was incredible! My favorite vintage of their Santa Barbara County

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Blew through my six pack of 15. All bottles 90 to 93. I actually think the 20 will be better than that vintage. [cheers.gif]

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Besides Tensley, I love Stolpman, Andrew Murray, and Frequency. Zac Wasserman is the assistant winemaker at Tensley and Frequency is his label. He is killing it right now.