Friday Feature, 2/19/10

Hello and Happy Friday!

One of the greatest trends in the California wine world over the past decade has been the emergence of Syrah and other Rhône varietals. In the Central Coast of California, these varietals make a lot of sense, and a handful of producers are making top–notch wines that have even taken their place on the world wine stage.

Two years ago I was first introduced to Joey Tensley, winemaker and owner of Tensley Wines based in Los Olivos, within Santa Barbara County. After tasting through his line–up at the time, he instantly became my favorite producer in the area.

Maybe it’s his vineyard sites, maybe it’s his winemaking philosophy, but Joey gets it. His touch with varieties like Syrah, Grenache, and Roussanne show great understanding of the fine line that a producer can cross turning their wines into something too heavy handed.

Today on the newsletter I am featuring what is a very special value from the Tensley Wines, and also giving last call on some of his ’07’s that are sold out throughout the country. We are very lucky to have these wines here in Chicago, and if you want to try a Syrah from one of the real superstar winemakers of the varietal, it is time you too be introduced to Joey Tensley.

To assist in your discovery, I will have a bottle open of the Santa Barbara Syrah this Saturday to try.  So come on down!

Have a great weekend,


This is truly a spectacular value for Syrah. The ’07 vintage is a much lauded one for Tensley, and it shows through in this wine. A snippet of what this wine is all about from Joey.

“This year’s Santa Barbara Syrah was sourced from three distinct vineyards: Camp 4 (41%), Clover Creek, (44%) and Colson Canyon (15%). The Camp 4 brings in bright notes of raspberry, red stone fruits, and earth while the Clover Creek introduces a deep, jammy core of black fruits and berries. The Colson pulls it all together with just the right hints of chocolate, minerals, smoked meats and a streak of tannins to balance it all out. Drink this wine now or age it over the next 3 to 5 years. 245 cases produced.” – Joey Tensley, Tensley Wines

If you have been hanging around Perman Wine for a bit you know that I’m extremely critical when it comes to the price vs. quality ratio of American wines. I’m a big picture thinker, and so it is doubly important for me to note in an instance like this that you are getting every pennies worth out of this wine, not to mention all the Tensley wines. This is a simply delicious Syrah!
$19.99 BTL. / $239.88 CASE


Beautiful elegance is what “Tierra Alta” is all about. Joey explains…

“As always the 99 Syrah clone we source from this vineyard hillside comes through with just the right touch of mineral and spice to add depth to this juicy, fruit–driven wine. Bursting with notes of vibrant huckleberry and wild berries, this Syrah also shows nuances of earth and leather. Deep and round with a long, smooth finish, this wine is tempting even at a young age but has the structure to last the next 10 years. 330 Cases Produced.” – Joey Tensley, Tensley Wines
$34.99 BTL. / $419.88 CASE


This is the vineyard that Tensley is known for. A big Syrah, but with balance, that will evolve in your cellar. Big press if you care, see Mr. Parker. What you should care about is what a complete Syrah this is. Joey explains…

“Approximately half of our wine production is made up of fruit from the meticulously farmed vineyard located high in the mountains off Tepusquet Canyon. Colson Canyon is the only one of our wines to see any new oak. It is aged in 20% new, 20% one–year-old, and 60% neutral French oak barrels. The 2007 growing season was exceptional. Low rainfall and long, cool hang times before harvest meant small, concentrated berries and wine heaven. Our Colson fruit made a dark, inky wine rich in stone fruit, violets and blackberries. It shows good balance and roundness and a harmonious blending of tannin and acidity. Drink this wine now or age it up to 15 years. 1450 cases produced.” – Joey Tensley, Tensley Wines
$34.99 BTL. / $419.88 CASE

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