Located in the Templeton Gap and noted for its cool climate and dirt laced with limestone, the Willow Creek AVA is a favorite spot for those growing Rhône grapes. The Dirt Worshipper 2018 is 98% Syrah with a small dollop each of co-fermented Roussanne and Viognier. The winery calls it a "beastly hedonistic" wine. That's how it goes with Syrah, and aren't you glad of it? The wine was 45% whole-cluster fermented, stands at 14.3% abv and sells for $80, but it is available only to wine club members. Aging took place over 21 months in 15% new French oak, 7% new Hungarian oak, and 78% previously used barrels.
This very dark wine shows a slight ruby tint along the rim. The nose offers blackberry, black olive, a floral spray and a hint of white pepper. The palate is a fistfighter, with sharp tannins that ease up after a decanting, a huge dark fruit profile and a generous streak of savory meat and, as expected, dirt. The finish is joyful and lengthy.