Michael Gill Paso Syrah, The 17.5’er (2)

Michael Gill “Big Rock” Paso Robles Syrah (The ‘17.5’er’) 2-Pack
$54.99 $̶9̶4̶.̶0̶0̶ 42% off List Price
2010 Michael Gill “Big Rock” Paso Robles Syrah
CT link above

Winery website

Hello, anybody there? Yes, I am listed as the ‘consulting winemaker’ here. This means Michael Gill can get some sleep for once.

For some perspective on the ripeness levels of this fruit, take a look at http://stillmanbrown.blogspot.com/2013/09/harvest-in-west-paso-colossus-of-rhones.html

Every post a quality post! To quote myself:
“The Syrah leaves turn color before the grapes are ready to pick. The sugar levels, and consequent alcohols, may seem very high, but the acid levels maintain into the high 20s and sometimes higher. Flavors are also not fully developed at ‘normal’ levels, and the seeds aren’t lignified yet. A cool year like 2011 gave us wine with an alcohol of 16.5%, probably as low as we’ll see absent the threat of another typhoon!”

I had a zin a couple of weeks ago that was listed at 16.5 and while the wine didn’t show heat you definitely felt it later. Stillman, will this wine put me on my a$$? If so, in for 3. :wink:

Is this the same vineyard you get your colossus Syrah from.?

Thank you for addressing what would seem to be a very high alcohol level. Still a student of PR Syrah, how would this compare in style with a Andrew Murray (Terra Bella Vineyard)? TIA.

Yes, I jumped in the same year (2010) although I bottle and release earlier. We actually make the wines together, I just take different barrels.

The AM TB is oakier, if I recall, but I haven’t had the most recent one. That vineyard’s to the NW of Gill near Adelaida, but I haven’t been in it.

Question 1: will this wine at lest kiss me after knocking me on my @$$ with that 17.5 abv 2x4?

Question 2: most yeasts don’t like anywhere near 17.5, is this in fact dry? I’d expect a percent or two of sugar on that high an abv

Question 3: what would this taste like if You/ Mr Gill got together with Mr Clark smith and adjusted the alcohol down to say…13.5 or whatever was determined to be the sweet spot?

  1. Yes. It’s balanced - the acid is fairly high, there is a LOT of real, complex fruit, and it’s neither astringent nor tanninless syrup.

  2. It’s bone dry (under .1%) though of course the alcohol and glycerol add to texture. Several yeasts will go to 17.5-18 naturally, and eat all the sugar. Of course some would stop at 15 and die, leaving one or two percent RS, and then an Aussie winemaker would have to come along and make one of those horrid sparkling Shirazzzzzs.

  3. Nothing against Clark, but I think the ‘sweet spot’ tastings have something of the Riedel suggestibility phenomenon to them. The flavors would be the same, if not shocked by the ultrafiltration, and the acid higher. I’m not a ‘natural’ wine purist by any means, but this is one technique I think best reserved for, oh, Merlot. And perhaps Grenache.

Which barrels do you take versus what he takes? Do you work on a draft system or do you get yours first (or vice versa?) or do you both happen to want significantly different barrels?

Firstly, thanks as always for the candid replies. It really helps.

In response to #2, were “super” yeasts selected and inoculated to begin with given how high the Brix was? Or do “super” yeast get added later in the process to finish the fermentation?

In response to #3, do you feel that de-alcing is still something we do not know how to do well enough yet to not negitively effect the wine? Also, do you feel that the 17.5 in fact helps this wine or that it is simply a byproduct of the terroir and ripeness desired?

I own my own barrels. I might make minor changes in mine, ask him what he likes when we taste them, etc. Our palates aren’t that different, fortunately.

Same yeast all the way through, and I wouldn’t call it ‘super’. I don’t know if it would take another must to 17+, but it works here.
I’m sure I could play with it to good effect, but it seems as though the major use of it has been not to lower alcohol, but to add back extract - winemakers taking 4-6 or more ton/acre wines, taking a big portion of the wine, and removing the alcohol and water both, then blending back into the untouched portion. Helps with acid too, if the wine was low acid hot climate.
But I’d have to drive too far from the coast, in addition to other inconveniences! I think the 17.5 is natural, and doesn’t need to be considered an asset or a flaw. I pick reds at barely 20 brix to make some Roses, and I generally don’t manipulate them either.

I just happened to have a friend show up with this wine the other night for some football. In retrospect, fitting, given the All-American character of the wine.

Michael Gill Cellars 2010 Syrah Big Rock Vineyard

Upon opening, the alcohol and oak character were almost overwhelming. Glancing at the label revealed 17.5% alcohol. Yikes.

This wine is thoroughly new world and makes no apologies. The wine was in a decanter and as time went on the oak and alcohol mellowed. With time raspberries and vanilla began to dominate.

My friend who brought the wine(He is a big Cab guy) got tons of vanilla on the nose, with subtle notes of black licorice.

The wine had a nice mouthfeel with lots of fruit and was quite delicious. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting past the alcohol. With more time in the bottle this will likely become less pronounced but after 2 hours in a decanter, was still pretty apparent.

My friend: “ This wine is The Bomb…I just want to get a slab of prime-rib and drink this entire bottle”

Quite the endorsement.

Overall, a very nice, and really delicious bottle of wine. It is big, bold and New World to a T. Subtle, it is not. (I’m sure RPM will NOT approve)

Still, it is clearly well-made(now that I see SB was a consultant, I’m not surprised) and shall be added to my cellar.

Its a long football season…


If I’m not mistaken, the DFW folks tried this. I gave them pads of paper and pens so maybe we’ll see some notes. Unless I’m mistaken.

The last Kabinett I had was absolutely awesome, except for the 7% alcohol. I had to add vodka.

The objection to (only relatively) high alcohol levels in wine is partly ideological, but began when wine critics that got everything for free discovered that they were weaving after only three bottles for lunch, and decided to blame the winery instead of their own lack of self-control.
Yes, I know some high alcohol wines are unbalanced. Actually, most wines are!