This Red Wine Rocks!

Angeli has got to be the best Syrah representation in California.  Hailing from Stoplman Vineyards near Lompoc, in the “Santa Inez Valley” appellation of Santa Barbara County, this wonderful red wine draws high praise from professional raters  and internet vinophiles alike.

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Janice and I have written previously about Stolpman on one of our wine tasting trips to Santa Barbara, where we visited the Stolpman Vineyards tasting room in rural Los Olivos, north on the #101 from Santa Barbara and still some distance from the actual winery.  While the tasting room has some great wines, Angeli is definately not on the tasting list, and I had to be reminded of it by “Sam”, the owner and wine buyer at the close-by Los Olivos Cafe, (which was featured in the movie “Sideways”) who sent me a bottle of it last week on my periodic shipment for my membership in the Los Olivos Cafe wine club.

2009 Angeli by Stolpman Vineyards is barrel fermented and enriched in taste by the new oak of the barrel.  After fermenting, Stolpman says it spends 20 months in the barrel and another 10 months in the bottle aging, with no fining or filtration.  That makes for a big grape taste.  The wine is deep in purple color, with light smoke and spice and cherry liquor overtone.  Stolpman does not report Angeli as a “blended” grape wine, they represent it only as being Syrah.  Given their great results, this wine must be a proud achievement for them.

If you like big, bold red wines, Angeli should become one of your favorites.  It reminds me of Ferrari-Carrano’s reds from the more celebrated Sonoma County.  Syrah is technically not as difficult a grape to grow as Cabernet, and Cabernet is especially hard to do in the Santa Inez Valley, well south of California’s prized Napa/Sonoma vineyards.  However, a plus for the Syrah grape is that a good wine can have a soft, velvety mouth-feel in comparison to Cabernet, and a much less off-putting “tannic” taste.  The problem with these wines, however, is that they just don’t have the ‘punch” of a really nicely aged Cabernet.  I can give testimony, however, that Angeli is unlike most Syrahs in that it not only has a wonderful first taste and deep color and richness, without tannic taste, but it also has what truly advanced arm-chair wine tasters refer to as “cojones.”  (No offense intended to anyone who might take offense).

Angeli is not cheap, it costs about $68 a bottle retail – if you can find it.  If you are planning a special meal at home that calls for a big red wine and you don’t want to wait for the aging process, give this one a try.  Sam has it at but please do not mention my name, I don’t want him to think I like it too much or he’ll raise the price.

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