About the Wine
Bob Lindquist is a pioneer in Santa Barbara winemaking. He planted some of the first cool climate Syrah in California at the Bien Nacido vineyard in 1997. He became known as one of founding Rhone Rangers, demonstrating that Rhone varietals could succeed in California.
"Qupe" is a Chumash Native American word for poppy, the California state flower often found in the area. The Bien Nacido vineyard translates to "of good birth" and is part of a larger parcel, associated with an original California land grant. Given the vineyard's east-west exposition, the cool air from the Pacific Ocean flows into the Santa Maria valley and creates a perfect, natural air conditioning that keeps nights and mornings cool and the days warm. For this reason, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay reign supreme here. And, as Bob discovered, so too does Syrah.
The 2013 Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard Hillside Estate was my favorite of these reds from Qupé, unwinding in the glass with notes of cassis, plums, violets, petroleum jelly, dark chocolate and cracked pepper. On the palate, the wine is supple, velvety and medium to full-bodied, with lots of peppery, crunchy fruit and good juicy acidity, as well as excellent concentration and length. This saw some 50% new oak, but it has already digested it and seems ready to evolve attractively for the next fifteen years.
This is an excellent set of releases from Bob Lindquist's Qupé, which—like Jim Clendenen's Au Bon Climat—has settled into a stylistic groove with which readers who follow these wines will by now be familiar. These wines are both more polished and more oaky than the wines that made Bob's reputation, and while I wouldn't mind seeing a subtler touch with new wood, I have been surprised by older bottles often enough not to wish to bet against their aging potential. My "coup de coeur" is the Marsanne, available under natural cork from the winery, a cuvée that I suspect will really surprise with a decade of bottle age. I still vividly remember an excellent bottle of the 1993 enjoyed just under a year ago. ~93WA
The 2013 Syrah Bien Nacido Hillside Estate is powerful, rich and unctuous. Now with a few years in bottle, the 2013 offers lovely aromatic complexity, making it an excellent choice for drinking now. The wine is built on serious fruit intensity, while more varietal Syrah aromatics are pushed into the background, but even so, there is plenty to like. ~93VM
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