A Winemaker Rising Above the Radar
Just discovered a winery/wine club that makes high quality wines and, as a bonus, is a two-for-one operation. Located in Paso Robles, winemaker Tyler Russell had created two brands: Nelle and Cordant. As he explains, “Two brands. One mindset.”
Cordant focuses on Pinot Noir and Nelle offers wines from Rhone varietals.
Long story short: the Nelle Syrahs stole the show in my most recent update and tasting.
The mindset seems to be to locate the best vineyards in the Central Coast and then listen to the vineyard. In a Shaksperian aside, the vineyard will say: “to vineyard designate or blend. That is the question.”
In 2017, considered to be an outstanding year, Russell made three Syrahs that should help us understand this mindset.
One is the 2017 Nelle Syrah, “Coastview Vineyard” which occupies one of the high elevation sites in Monterey County. This highly regarded vineyard is part of the Gabilan Mountain Range.
This Syrah is a deep, dark wine, rich, multi-layered with ripe dark plum
fruit, that displays the thyme, lavender notes associated with great Syrah. It needs to be decanted/aerated, but keeps on unfolding over time.
115 cases were produced, and the price is $52. My score: 94
Second up is the 2017 Nelle Syrah, Reserve, “The Terraces,” a barrel selection of 50 cases. Well, simply put: this Syrah is amazing. Up there with the best I’ve ever tasted. Reminded me of some great Cornas when I tasted new vintages in the Auguste Clape cellars. Dense, spicy, leathery, peppery and loaded with flavors but structured and balanced, not over the top, hedonistic style.
It takes us back to that mindset. As Russell explains:
“The 2017 Reserve Syrah, which we call “The Terraces” happened by chance. We had small few rows at Coastview in a section they call the casita terraces. That we just let hang for a while. The stems developed perfectly with fruit. So we fermented whole cluster. Fermented slowly in the cold room. Put the wine in some nice barrels. I really think this wine is a testament to the vintage. At least for us. My intention was not to make a reserve wine… it just turned out really good so went ahead and did it.”
115 cases produced. $72. My score: 98
Third, the 2017 Nelle Central Coast Syrah is a blend of fruit from 6 vineyards. Working with grapes from cool climate and warm climate sites, it comes across with only a hint of Paso Robles ripeness and chocolate tones nicely complemented by bright fruit and spice from cooler sites. Make no mistake, this is serious stuff that can be cellared. But, as the French say, “It drinks well.” Sorry, they say this: “Ca boire bien.”
500 cases produced. $40. Score: 93
3310 RAMADA DRIVE SUITE A
(805) 369 – 2313