TN: SierraVista Syrah ElDorado '87..(short/boring)

Had this one orphan btl in my EdStJ box:

  1. SierraVista Syrah ElDorado (EB; 12.5%) 1987: Med.light color w/ some bricking; some earthy/ElDorado mushroomy light toasty/oak some pencilly/cedary light roasted/oldCornas/smokey/rustic light blueberry/blackberry/Syrah bit tired complex nose; soft some metallic/tangy/drying-out light smokey/oldRhonish/Cornas/rustic some earhy/ElDorado mushroomy very light blueberry/Syrah/blackberry delicate light complex flavor w/ light smooth/gentle tannins; med.long soft/smooth/gentle/delicate some cedary/pencilly/oldCornas/smokey earthy/ElDorado mushroomy slight blueberry/Syrah finish w/ light smooth tannins; quite an interesting old Syrah a bit like an oldCornas/rustic w/ some blueberry/Syrah fruit still peeking thru; like a quiet little old lady fading into the sunset but you just know she’d been around the block a time or two; speaks in a whisper of its once greatness.

A wee BloodyPulpit:

  1. John & Barbara MacCready really don’t get the credit they deserve for their contributions to the Calif Rhone movement. In the '82 vintage, we had four of the first really good Syrahs in Calif that indicated the greatness that grape would eventually achieve. Ojai (Ojai Oakview vnyd), BonnyDoon (EstrellaRiver vnyd), Qupe (EstrellaRiver vnyd), and the ringer, SierraVista (SierraVistate estate vnyd). Actually, it was the SV that outlived them all.
    John & Barbara were the ones that blazed the trail for the great Syrahs that now come from ElDoradoCnty. They were two of the original organizers of RhoneRangers and John was their first Prez. These folks should be better known for their pioneering efforts.

Man, what’s with all the old, elder statesmen lately? Cellar cleaning?

Nope, Markus…this was a case of old EdStJohns that I’ve been meaning to explore since about '95.
Things don’t always go at a break-neck pace in my household.

Thanks for the notes, Tom! I am surprised that this beat the Qupé. Was Sierra Vista it’s own operation? I thought it was a bargain version of ESJ. I guess I am revealing my ignorance, here…

Well, Drew…when I had my last of the famed '82 Syrahs…it was the SV that was in the best shape. The other 3 had
quite a bit of oak exposure…which is probably why.

SierraVista has been a fully-functioning wnry from the very start, w/ John as the winemaker. John was there w/ Syrah
in ElDorado well before SteveEdmunds. There was a period in the '90’s when I thought the wines were less than stellar.
But, based on my tastings at RhoneRangers, those days are behind. I need to order some recent ones to try.

So, Sierra Vista is still available? Forgive me, but I have never seen it or ESJ retail, so all I could do is online purchasing.

I once lived about 5 miles from Sierra Vista back in 87 and 88 and visited fairly often with John and Barbara.

I just scoped out the Sierra Vista Winery website.

I am ashamed that I know so little about the El Dorado/Sierra Foothills area! I tried several different Renwood, Terra d’Oro/Montevina, C.G. DiArie wines back in the day. Maybe a couple of wines were pleasurable, but none blew me away. Keep in mind, I was working in a wine shop with three-tier laws and distributors who often were not interested in smaller wineries.

Nowadays, sources like WB have taught me about so many exciting wines and personalities that I have a hard time keeping up! The Esola Vineyard, Terre Rouge, Easton, the Bedrock “Sherman’s Gold”, the Cooper Barbera, La Clarine Farm, Cedarville, Harbor Winery’s “Mission del Sol”, Skinner, etc, are wines that I have not tried, and perhaps never will.

My theory that enthusiastic consumers, especially the new crop of “Millenials”, may be more apt to overlook the gloss of Napa and (some elements of) Sonoma in favor of exploring the less-hyped regions of California will hopefully include inland nooks and crannies - like the Amador area.

Drew, no shame in not knowing much about the Sierra Foothills wine region! It’s not even that well-known even here in California since it’s overshadowed by Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, etc. Some of the state’s most historic old vineyards are in the area, though few seem to know that.

I’ve noted in the past that the quality of wines from the Foothills is uneven, though it’s far from the only California wine region with that issue. The good news is that the number of consistently good producers from the Foothills continues to grow, even if that’s at a slow pace. It also seems that there are more producers from elsewhere in the state these days who make a fair percentage of their wines from Sierra Foothills fruit - Edmunds St. John, Donkey and Goat, Dirty & Rowdy, etc. Perhaps the best thing about wine from the Foothills is that most of it is very reasonably priced, so if you stick with the better-quality producers you’re likely to be getting some real bargains.