Steele Stymie Founder's Reserve Syrah 1999
Winemaking: The Syrah grapes for this wine are usually harvested in early to mid-October each year. We used our typical Syrah winemaking techniques on the Stymie including gentle crushing and fermentation temperature below 90 degrees F. The close proximity of the vineyards allows the fruit to be delivered immediately upon harvest to the winery. The grapes are then crushed and pumped into open-top tanks. The must is punched down by hand two to three times daily. It is fermented at warmer temperatures (90-95 degrees F) in order to extract the full, rich flavors of the wine. As with the Merlot, we aged the wine in barrels from one of our finest coopers, Taransaud. The wine remains in barrel up to two years and is lightly filtered prior to bottling, to retain brilliance of color and clarity. The wine is then aged in our cellars for an additional year prior to release to gain additional maturity. Total production of this wine is approximately 250 cases. Food Pairing: The wine shows a depth of dark red color rarely seen and has concentrated flavors on the palate. This Syrah has excellent 'New World' fruit aromas and flavors of plum, raspberries with a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon. The fruit lingers well into the finish that is accented by a hint of leathery earthiness. This Syrah has enough fruit to enjoy with lamb or steak, yet enough body and structure to pair well with winter cassoulet, stews, game, and braised shanks. The wine has a balance of fruit and oak that allows for immediate enjoyment while additional cellaring will give this wine added complexity. Vineyards: The Syrah grapes for the for the Steele Stymie Founder's Reserve Syrah are from low yielding vineyards in the Highland Springs area located on the north side of Clear Lake in Lake County, California. Lake COunty is located approximately 70 miles off the Pacific Ocean, due east of Mendocino County. The distance from the ocean creates unique climatic conditions with high temperatures (90 degrees+ F) during the day combined with cool nighttime temperatures (approximately 50 degrees F) overnight. This extreme temperature swing allows the heat of the day to ripen the fruit while the cool nighttime temperature will shut down the ripening process and allow the fruit to retain crisp acidity. These conditions allow for longer 'hang time' on the vine, giving the fruit concentrated flavors. Rhone varietals, such as Syrah, thrive under these conditions. Each picking lot for this wine was selected for its intense varietal character and richness. The wine is 100% Syrah. Stymie was a famous racehorse in mid-twentieth century American history. Once Stymie gained the lead on the track, he would never relinquish the spot. This trait was so pronounced that 'stymie' has actually become part of our vocabulary. In 1950, Jed Steele's father, a newspaperman, place a wager on Stymie that paid off well. SO well, in fact, that the winnings financed the Steele family's move from New York to San Francisco. Our new Stymie label is reserved for rare, small production wines of the highest quality.