Mira Winery, Napa Valley Hyde Vineyard Syrah 2016
($95): We each have our favorite wine descriptors that suggest special characteristics of fine wine that we encounter only rarely. “Seamless” is one of those words for me. It suggests a wine that expresses itself as a whole, with no edges, no seams; complete unto itself. When I tasted this Syrah, “seamless” was the first descriptive that popped into my mind. “Round” and “harmonious,” followed close behind.
I was not familiar with Mira winery, and so some research was in order. The winery is a small estate of 16 acres in the heart of Napa Valley. The partners are winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez and entrepreneur Jim “Bear” Dyke, who happened to meet in 2005 in Washington DC. They struck up a friendship based on a common love of wine and, improbably, mathematics. Their joint wine venture began in 2009. Gustavo Gonzalez was the red wine maker at Robert Mondavi Winery and besides global winemaking experience, he boasts a 25-year deep, local knowledge of Napa terroir, having worked across every AVA in the Napa Valley. At Mira, his aim is to farm sustainably, use 100% Napa Valley fruit, and make the wines in the gentlest, most natural way possible, to set each wine on its path of terroir expression.
Almost all the Mira wines are unblended, made entirely from their named grape variety. I counted eight varietals, from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The wines in the Napa Valley tier sell for about $50 each, while most of the Single vineyard tier wines cost $95, with a couple twice that price or more. Many of the single vineyard wines are produced in very small quantities. Only 400 cases of the 2016 Hyde Vineyard Syrah were made.
Hyde Vineyard is the preeminent property in Carneros, first planted by Larry Hyde in 1979. It boasts brilliant sun exposure and yet cooling coastal influences. Although more famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this vineyard also grows stellar Syrah.
The 2016 Mira Syrah, Hyde Vineyard, sports a deep, near-purple hue despite its five-plus years of age. Its classic Syrah aroma speaks of fresh blackberry, blueberry and fig. This wine is fruitier than classic northern Rhône Syrah, but I do find hints of roasted meat, which I love, as well as a graphite-like minerality. In your mouth, the wine is full-bodied and full-blown, with high alcohol (15% abv), high balancing acidity and a medium amount of tannin that’s soft and integrated. Flavors of blue and black fruits show nuances of dark chocolate, tobacco, and mineral notes. The star attraction is the texture of the wine: smooth, and supple, it builds to a spherical structure in your mouth— and within, it is well-knit with rich, ripe fruit and soft, ripe tannins. Seamless.
Winemaking techniques involved a four-day cold maceration to extract color and flavor followed by fermentation at 90° F (32° C) for 12 days. Altogether the wine spent 27 days in vat. The wine aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, 95% of which were ten years old.
Wines that have so much immediate appeal are often incapable of aging. In this case, the fruity concentration on the finish and the completeness of the wine suggests a good future.