Grey Stack Cellars, The Folly
Appellation: Bennett Valley
Blend: 60% Syrah, 40% Grenache
Case Production: 125 cases
Before planting in 2001, Grey Stack's Peter and Marie Young spent a few weeks in the Rhône Valley, which convinced them to go with Syrah. They pulled out a 4,000-yard pile of rocks in the development process; the crew in turn made rock walls from the pile, using the old mortarless "dry stack" method of fitting rocks together.
The Bennett Valley appellation is one of the newest and smallest American Viticultural Areas (AVA) in California. Lying just southeast of Santa Rosa, it is defined by Sonoma Mountain, Bennett Mountain and Mount Taylor. The cool marine air flowing across the Santa Rosa plain through Crane Canyon Gap and into Bennett Valley makes it one of the coolest growing regions in Sonoma County, and delays harvest for white wines into October and often delays harvest for reds into November. The combination of cool weather and volcanic soils loaded with clay could make Bennett Valley an inhospitable place for grape growing, but depending on the microclimate and elevation there are pockets of land that are perfect for grape production. The Youngs seem to have found one. "We're enamored of these cool weather sites," explains Peter. "In addition to longer hang times for the grapes, we get small yields of about 2 ½ tons to the acre, and the grapes have great natural acidity and low pH." WineBusiness.com
Tasting Notes -
2007 Syrah-Grenache from Dry Stack Vineyard 60% early-picked Syrah and 40% Grenache from the small head trained block in front of our house at Dry Stack Vineyard, The Folly is an excellent example of the blend being greater than the simple sum of the parts. Never intending to make this wine, the Folly was the result of circumstance in the winery as two winemaking experiments came together to make a really good wine. The early-pick Syrah had great acidity and lift. The Grenache had all the classic elements of dried plum and strawberry of our cool climate Grenache along with the great mid palette. Together they make a very Rhone like wine with good acidity and great mouthfeel that we think is a classic Grey Stack Wine.
Dry Stack Vineyard was purchased by the Young family in 1999 and planted to Syrah, Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc and Roussanne in 2001 as part of the first wave of "new" Syrah plantings in Bennett Valley. Although now it seems so obvious, at the time it was a bold move - particularly the Grenache and the Roussanne. We were told by a couple of experts that the Grenache would "not ripen until Christmas". For the first several years of production the fruit from Dry Stack Vineyards was sold to wineries such as Pax and DuMOL.
The key to the success with Syrah is Bennett Valley's climate. Located just west of the Valley of the Moon and just east of the 101 Freeway, the area is as cool as the famous micro-climates of Russian River Valley and Green Valley. The whites are harvested in late September and the Syrah in late October.The long growing season allows the fruit to get completely ripe without the brix soaring into the stratosphere.
The soils of Grey Stack Vineyards are heavy, poorly drained but still very rocky soils or volcanic origin. There are places where the rocks are so thick that they comprise 70% to 80% of the soil. But in other places there is nothing but clay - gray black, heavy, expansive clays. 4,000 yards of rock were removed from the vineyard when it was prepared it for planting. The rocks were used to build dry stack rock walls around the property, giving the vineyard the name "Dry Stack". Dry Stack has 11 different irrigation blocks with several very different aspects, and 4 different clones of Syrah along with Grenache, Petite Sirah and Roussanne. Grey Stack Cellars farms as softly and as sustainably as possible, always conscious of the impact to farm, their family (who lives on the farm), their neighbors and their community.
"BENNETT VALLEY, CALIFORNIA Whether it was by luck or design, Peter and Marie Young planted vines in the rich volcanic soils of Bennett Valley back in 2001, and now they are arguably making some of the most stunning wines in California. With their vines just now coming into full maturity, the small lot wines they are producing under their Grey Stack Cellars label are wowing critics. They have four current releases and all four have scored 90 points or better: 2006 The Narcissist Syrah 94 points, 2006 Marie's Block Syrah 92 points, 2008 Rosemary's Block Sauvignon Blanc 92 points and 2007 The Folly Syrah-Grenache 90 points."WineBusiness.com
Reviews - 90 points - Wine Spectator
"Intense, with a leafy juniper berry edge to the wild berry and blackberry flavors. Full-bodied and complex, with spicy, peppery flavors that are well-structured, with chewy tannins. Drink now through 2014."—J.L.
Eat with: grilled lamb, romano, yellow wax & fresh cranberry beans, cherry tomato-herb vinaigrette.