White Hawk Syrah from the talented Maggie Harrison is VERY LIMITED and highly allocated.
During her time in the cellar at Sine Qua Non Maggie Harrison had the opportunity to make a small amount of wine from the top of the highly regarded White Hawk Vineyard. She bottled only 150 cases of Syrah 2004, her inaugural vintage.
Bien Nacido Vineyard is a large historic vineyard in Santa Maria Valley. The Syrah that Maggie picks from Bien Nacido is more northern Rhone-esque with its flavors of smoke, lavender and salt inflected oceanic aromas. The Syrah here is always the lowest in sugar and the highest in acidity and tannins.
White Hawk Vineyard is a 60 acre vineyard just outside of Los Alamos, CA. The Lillian block at the top of White Hawk hill is a sand dune- literally pure sand. This site is warmer than Bien Nacido but because of its soil it retains precision and finesse.
In the Lillian winemaking process, clusters and individual berries are meticulously sorted by hand, berries often snipped from the stem with tiny scissors. The wines are fermented naturally in small, open top fermenters, tread by foot, siphoned into barrel – never pumped. The wines are then settled and aged on the lees before being bottled without fining or filtration.
Certain gifts are given to the winemaker in California: the fruit will always ripen, it will never suffer from a lack of depth of character, of power. It is not my nature to lean away from these gifts or try to deny them by picking excessively early or by overcropping the vineyard. I choose instead to lean in, to meet the fruit where it is. The goal with the syrah, as with all Lillian wines, is to work with these historical, noble varieties in a sun-drenched place but work with the fruit in such a way to give the wines levity and lift. A certain transparency and fineness of detail. The syrah, as a result, is not particularly syrah-like. It doesn’t scream out the usual cocktail of blackberries, bacon fat, and lavender. It always feels a bit more about the people and the places than the variety. The wines are lavish, but there is refined rocky quality in them that defies description.
The label is a representation of a feather. It has, for me, two meanings. When I was first talked into making my own wine, it felt a bit like being pushed out of the nest as a fledgling. It is a reminder that even the impossible is, in fact, not just possible but instinctual. It also serves as a reminder of all that we’re hoping to achieve with these wines: levity, flight and a fineness of detail.