2010 Zaca Mesa Estate Syrah

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Zaca Mesa Estate Syrah

Greg’s Santa Maria Style oven-barbecued tri-tip demands a Santa Maria Valley wine, right? Yes, and I’ll get to that in a minute. However, I’m selecting the 2010 Zaca Mesa Estate Syrah, from the nearby Santa Ynez Valley. This fruit-forward wine, with flavors of ripe red and black berries, is a very accessible wine.  Smokey oak and a hint of mocha, sage and spice bring a hint of complexity, however, and pair very nicely with the salt and pepper flavors in Greg’s tri-tip dish. Ripe tannins provide a silky finish on this wine, but just a bit of tannic grip at the end provides a nice contrast to the beef’s fattiness. Borrowing from Rhone Valley traditions, the winemakers added touch of viognier, a white grape variety, to add further interest to the wine.

I really wanted to select a wine from a Santa Maria Valley producer! After all, the style of barbecue Greg’s dish embraces has Santa Maria in its name. One of the easiest and safest “rules” in pairing food and wine relates to regionality. Simply put, if you pair a regionally-specific dish with a wine made in that same region, it’s (almost) impossible to go wrong. I realize that I’m splitting hairs by differentiating between Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley-they are both Santa Barbara County Wine, but there are differences. SMV’s vineyards, due to Maritime influences, are some of the coolest in the state, and Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the dominant variety. SYV, however is more southerly, curving inland, getting incrementally warmer the further east you go, allowing for a wider range of grape varieties. Another difference is that many of the really interesting wineries in SMV produce small amounts with limited distribution, and I just haven’t gotten my hands on many of them to taste! I’m especially intrigued by wines coming from Foxen, Rancho Sisquoc and Tres Hermanas wineries, to name a few.

Grant Henry

Zaca Mesa Estate Syrah www.zacamesa.com

Pairs With How to Cook Tri-Tip in the Oven

Price $16

Also pairs well with barbecue, cheese, duck, mushrooms, steak, pork, sausage.

  • Category Red Wine
  • Varietal Syrah
  • Region Santa Ynez Valley CA