Categorized | California Wines, Reviews, Syrah

2008 Ampelos Gamma Syrah – Review

By Duane Pemberton
Winery website:

The Santa Barbara region – unfortunately – seems to get lost to a great degree when it comes to thinking of great wine-producing regions in California. The facts are that it does produce world-class wines which do well in cooler climates. Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc are its most well-known varietals.

Ampelos Cellars had its first production in 2004 and hasn’t looked back since. It thrives on making a slew of varying Pinot Noir wines – each from distinct vineyards – as well as some Viognier, Gruner Veltliner, Grenache and of course Syrah.

This Gamma Syrah uses fruit from the Ampelos vineyard, is grown organicly and made biodynamically.

Technical Data: 

  • Appellation sta. rita hills
  • Composition 100% syrah
  • Vineyard source exclusively ampelos vineyard – one of the first to be certified
  • Sustainability in practice, organic and biodynamic
  • Alcohol 14.1%
  • pH 3.36
  • Barrel aging 24 months
  • Oak profile 31% new oak (one french barrels & hybrid barrels that are american staves and french heads) the rest is neutral oak

Nose: Smells like someone dumped a bowl of black plums and blueberries into an ash tray!  The most pronounced smell of ash tray I recall having in a wine and I LOVE IT. I also get nice aromas of violet, fig and peppercorn.

A totally different style of Syrah than I’ve had of late – the way cooler climate means that it’s not near as jammy and what I call “beef-jerky”- driven as those we get out of Washington State and Northern California. This is a far more sour-fruit laden wine that does a great job showcasing the much cooler climate of the Santa Barbar region. It’s very old-world – acid, dark fruits, ash and forest floor. Razor sharp acidity and firm tannins lead into an inviting finish that begs to be paired with food.

W.E.P. Rating:  100%