Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Central Coast Syrah - Qupé

Qupé specializes in growing and making Rhône-style wines from the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria, the Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard in the Edna Valley and the Ibarra-Young Vineyard in Los Olivos.  The former is farmed sustainably while the other two are farmed organically.  They have been at it since 1982.

If you have never heard of them, Qupé is pronounced "kyoo-pay" and is the Chumash Indian word for California poppy.  The winery explains that the Chumash are native to California's Central Coast and Channel Islands.  The California poppy is the state flower.

Founder Bob Lindquist sold the Qupé brand in late 2018 to Vintage Wine Estates, although the deal reportedly allowed him to hang on to his library wines and sell them.  After he was unexpectedly shown the door as consultant and winemaker by Vintage, he formed Lindquist Family Wines as his new label.  The company also includes Verdad, the winery run by his wife Louisa Sawyer Lindquist as well as their collaborative Sawyer Lindquist Wines.

For the 2018 Central Coast Syrah, 10% of the grape clusters were fermented while still on the stems.  This adds a bit of "greenness" or a savory aspect to the wine.  Aging took place over 16 months in French oak barrels, 15% of which were new.  The grapes were sourced from various vineyards located in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties as well as Paso Robles.  Alcohol comes in at 13.5% abv and it retails for $20.  I got mine on sale for $17 at the Whole Foods Market in Malibu.

The wine is dark, and smells that way.  The nose is dominated by blackberry and plum aromas, with a dash of violets thrown in for good measure.  There is also a certain set of fragrances that comes from the oak - spices, tobacco, cedar and the like.  The palate is rich and delightful, if maybe a bit too boisterous.  What do you want from Syrah, though?  The tannins are firm and paired quite well with a glazed pork chop, duck rice and mashed potatoes.

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