Highflyer Designate Syrah & Pinot (4)

Highflyer Vineyard Designate Syrah & Pinot Noir 4-Pack
$94.99 $155.00 39% off List Price
2007 Highflyer Syrah, Star Lane Vineyard, Clone 877, Santa Ynez Valley
2009 Highflyer Pinot Noir Doctor’s Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands
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2007 Highflyer Syrah; Star Lane Vineyard; Clone 877, Santa Ynez.
Label states 15.9 abv, 5 barrels produced.
Opened and shouldered bottle to let sit for a couple hours. First glass, color is dark and inky. Very Petite Sirah like in color and viscosity. Also quite a bit of sediment present and the wine is somewhat cloudy. On the nose, mostly picking up heat and some muddled red fruit somewhat like a jammy zin. Palate again is showing heat and only a touch of acid with a somewhat thin front palate. Again not able to pick out a clear fruit here, just red. The striking thing at this point is the fiercely mouth drying tannin on the mid and back palate. This needs to set for a while, transferred directly to the decanter. Loads of sediment!
After an hour in the decanted the nose has improved, but still has a touch of alc. Tannins have remained heavy. Palate is starting to lean to darker fruit, maybe blackberry without the tartness. It is now drinking a bit juicier with a meaty component that is hard to place. Still a pretty short finish, but now getting a small white pepper spice component.
At this point I am not sure if this bottle is slightly off or as intended. Not convinced that this much sediment would be the norm. If so, this bottle needs a lot of time in the cellar for the tannins to resolve and the fruit to bloom. Didn’t really pick up much complexity at all in this wine, more one sided fruit and mild acidity with a short finish.

2007 Highflyer Syrah 2007
Picked in November, 15.9 alc

Very heavy bottle, massive punt, high quality smooth cork

Pop and pour at ~63°F

Color: Dark Inky red. Very very concentrated color but not particularly purplish. I poured the first half into a split for tomorrow then poured this glass and am finding significant amounts of sediment. Perhaps a decant was in order. Also with this much sediment and dark color I’m surprised that the base of the cork was not darker. It was only a dark red.

Nose: The first thing I get is a bit of sassafras followed by blueberry cheesecake and a bit of bitter chocolate. Not very large at this point but then again it was freshly opened and perhaps a bit cool.

Palate: A bit tart on the open and moderately tannic throughout, the wine incorporates flavors of fresh blueberries and dark chocolate. This wine is interesting on several levels:

  1. I am surprised how bright it is given how much alcohol it has. Usually this much sugar in the grapes means that they were picked late and the acids had fallen significantly.
  2. The feel of this wine is unique in my experience. It has so much tannin that I feel it from the beginning of the sip as opposed to only near the end. This being said, I have had very harshly tannic wines and this is NOT harsh. It’s like eating the blueberries and tasting the bit of tannin in the skins.
  3. Given how dark and concentrated the color and tannin are, the flavor is comparatively light which keeps this wine from being overbearing.

First impressions: This wine shows very well as long as you don’t mind sediment or tannin (I don’t). I also expect this wine to evolve a fair amount as it warms up and gets some air so I’ll be back.

45 min later:

Nose: I still get the sassafras first (I like it!) but now I get a fair tinge of alcohol making my nose tingle next. The blueberries now play third.

Palate: Refreshingly tart still, I now get a hearty dose of BACON on this one. Bacon blueberry… Interesting. I feel that the concentration feels fuller now too.

Impressions: a big plus on the bacon, a big minus on the amount of alc I am getting on this one. I am about 1 full glass in and I feel it (with dinner).

2nd night: (the other half of the bottle)

Nose: Back to blueberry cheesecake, the sassafras is absent, but thankfully the alcohol is too. There is also an odd tangy note that is mildly lemony.

Palate: Warm blueberry pie/cheesecake the whole way through. Pure, not many extra notes but good concentration. The tannin has backed down to a light powder of chalky tannins, very nice!

Overall: This is a tasty, solid Syrah with good acidity and a decently concentrated very blueberry palate. There isn’t much finish to speak of unfortunately. The real differentiator for this one is the soft (to me who loves tannin) but very full tannin structure. If you’re not a fan, steer clear, but if you enjoy such, you should seriously consider this.

After looking at the specs and price, two things stand out:

  1. I am very surprised at the pH, this wine felt far zinger than an almost 4!!! Seriously, someone needs to check the specs again. 4 is what I expected from the alc %; this goes to show that specs aren’t everything.
    2). I was expecting this wine to arrive at the $30 price point that the last couple of black tie Syrahs have been. At $25ish this is a very decent if not spectacular value as long as the Pinot is reasonable.

Some may find it hard to believe, but I would say that our two bottles were very similar despite our differences in description. We both picked up the acidity, the tannin, the relatively simple dark fruit palate, the short finish, the juicyness/meatiness as it opened.

I think that this wine will please those who like certain characteristics and others (especially those who despise tannins) will strongly dislike it.

Let’s remember that this wine is 7 years old which can often be an awkward time in the life of a wine.

I’d love to hear from the winemaker as to where he expects the Syrah to go. I’d also like to hear from someone on the Pinot.

Edited to remove a gripe that was no longer valid.

Thank you for the reviews on the Syrah. It sounds tasty but I am wondering if you give it that extra few years in the bottle that it might need to mellow a little will it just fall apart with the high PH and high alc?

I’m also hoping there are some notes on the pinot coming.

I happen to have a bottle of the 09 High Flyer Pinot and I apologize for the late report but I passed out early last night.

On opening the nose is full of blackberry and blueberries and some pepper?. I had it in the decanter for an hour before my first taste, on the palate this is a lush wine full of blueberry black raspberry strawberry spice and even a hint of eucalyptus. Drank for 3 hours and it does not let up.

There is plenty of acidity to make for quite a long finish. There are gobs of fruit in this wine but make no mistake it is delicious fruit!

And to Cmaldoon’s point that numbers don’t tell the whole story I agree completely, lot’s of wines out there that have so called bad numbers that are long lived and fantastic. Turley has been doing it for years and I remember a 18 year of Ridge zin that clocked in at 14.9…everyone loved :slight_smile:

Thanks for the reports!

This made me go back and check the specs. There’s been debate in these parts on whether pH or titratable acidity dominate in perception of acidity. Obviously they’re correlated, but the buffering capacity of the wine can raise the pH while the TA stays high. I suspect these are highly buffered…I wonder what compounds do that…bitartrates? Both these wines are in the 6+ range of TA, which seems higher than many.

Where’s Clark when you need him? :slight_smile:

Happy to have Somerston in today’s Black Tie Buy spot. They’ve got a beautiful property up above St. Helena and a tasting room in Yountville.

The Highflyer wines are a personal project of winemaker Craig Becker. I know they’re busy at the winery today but I’m hoping he stops by.

The pinot is sourced from the celebrated Doctor’s Vineyard (owned by the Hahn family) in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The Syrah comes from the renowned Star Lane Vineyard in the Happy Canyon area of Santa Barbara county, owned by the Dierberg family.

Quality- Black Tie Buy.

I was pleased to find a bottle of the Pinot Noir. SWMBO couldn’t taste - a cold - but I did.

Nice color, medium legs, good body, but very clear.

Lots of berry fruit in the nose, but not ‘forward’ in style. More blackberries than anything else. Rich.

Nice entry with the blackberry flavors, and good acidity. Medium body.

The entry impressions continue through the middle palate, which is very interesting and very nice.

Blends into a moderately long finish, with good tannins, but not so you’d say ‘wow is this tannic’.

Overall impression is that this is a very nice Pinot Noir. Will go nicely with beef and other meat dishes. Has enough acidity to go with dishes with some tomato in them, though more gamey or wine sauces would be better.

This is drinking nicely now, and ought to continue to develop for a bit, holding for a few years at least.

If you like the notes on the Syrah, then this is an offering you should definitely consider strongly, because the Pinot is good.