93 Insider Points * Staff Favorite
High-Acid Syrah Makes for Delicious Quaffer. The 2011 Parmalee Hill Syrah showcases the warmer part of the Carneros Estate upon which the grapes are planted. The San Pablo Bay makes for cool nights that have given plenty of acid to this vintage. Bold red plum and spice highlight the fruit of this aged wine. Extra cellar time has treated the Parmalee Hill well. Integration of the fruit and oak spice is complete and this wine is drinking very well. 93 Points - JZ October '17
Sonoma Valley, CA
We’re back with one of our fruit-driven, masterly-crafted Member faves! Our hedonic scale is off the radar with this exceptional Syrah from Steve Hill himself. Yes, the same Steve Hill associated with over three decades of excellence developing and managing the renowned Durrell Vineyards, a consistent contender for Sonoma County’s “top five vineyards.”
Reasons we love it:
- The label’s first love. Hill planted the first parcel of the Parmelee-Hill Vineyard on a part of the original Durell Ranch property. And what did he (and wife Gwen Parmelee Hill) plant? Syrah, of course! 2001 marked the inaugural vintage of their limited production high-end Syrah. Ten years later and our mouths are still watering.
- Luxury grapes. Steve keeps approximately 20% of his harvest for the Parmelee-Hill label while the other 80% is sold to the likes of Patz & Hall, Loring, Ram’s Gate, Armida and Orin Swift.
- Don Van Staaveren. A name is a name, and the name Don Van Staaveren has some serious clout in Sonoma. The natural partnership between him and Hill meant high-quality wine was inevitable. Staaveren boasts a Sonoma resume a mile long: Gallo, Buena Vista and Chateau St. Jean. During his time as Winemaker at Chateau St. Jean, the winery became the very first to have five wines hit Wine Spectator’s Annual Top 100.
The estate Syrah typically exhibits a broad spectrum of black, blue and red fruits, dried herbs and jasmine, fennel, smoked meats and crushed rock along with very fine tannins, great length, balance and complexity.
Steve Hill and his wife Gwen Parmelee Hill purchased the first parcel of their Parmelee-Hill Vineyards property in 1994 and planted it with Syrah. In subsequent years Steve and Gwen purchased adjoining acreage, piecing together what is today the 70 acre Parmelee-Hill Vineyard.
Steve had known the property well, as it was once part of the celebrated Durell Ranch, although had never before been planted. Parmelee-Hill Vineyards lies in the Southwest corner of the Sonoma Valley Appellation, a stones throw from the Carneros line.
The heart of the Parmelee-Hill property sits on a knoll that faces the Sonoma Valley to the East and San Pablo Bay to the South. The climate is typical of coastal influenced areas. Morning fog retreats during warming midday hours. The warmth is commonly broken however by intense afternoon ocean winds that quickly drop the temperature. The fog sometimes retreats only as far as the Western hills until it blows back overhead fairly early in the afternoon. This type of climate tends to be self-restricting, resulting in naturally low-yielding vines producing fruit with intense flavor.
The unique Parmelee-Hill site allows the propagation of Syrah and Zinfandel on southwest and eastern facing slopes and Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Roussanne on the exposed rock and clay flats.
Grapes from Parmelee-Hill Vineyards are sold to such notable wineries as Armida, Loxton, Orin Swift, Patz and Hall, Ram's Gate, Saxon-Brown, Glen Lyon, Loring and Steele. Many of these wineries make a vineyard designate from the ranch. Click map for a larger image.
Steve continues to consult on the adjacent Durell Ranch, he has farmed since planting the first vines in 1979. He has a little bit of a head start when it comes to Syrah too. What is believed to be the first Vineyard Designate Syrah in Sonoma County was produced by Kendall Jackson and Edmunds St. John in the 1980’s from grapes grown by Steve next door on the Durell Ranch.
Steve and Ned keep an eye on every little detail, farming for world-class quality. The wines made from their grapes are the result of their constant commitment to grape growing excellence.
Enjoy this with a slow-cooker braised beef stew or wild mushroom risotto.