Austin Hope Syrah 2010, Paso Robles

Cost: $31-33

What: Austin Hope is the premier label offered by Hope Family Wines, bearing the name of the winemaker and president. So you would expect something special, and Austin delivers.

The Syrah is a deep purple, almost black, with heady aromas of blueberry, cherry and spice. One deep sniff and you know you are in for a treat.

I opened the wine 30 minutes before drinking it, and I should have given it twice that. The complex, intense wine continued to develop in the glass throughout the evening. Each sip brought a another new and exciting taste.

Ripe, juicy cherries jumped out at first taste, followed by plums, berries and spice. The long, lush finish showed some minerality and blackberries. This is a wine that makes you want to keep taking sip after sip until you notice the bottle is empty.

I also tasted the Austin Hope Grenache and it was just as good, with silky flavors of cherry, plum and spice. It is a bit livelier than the Syrah. Both wines should be opened an hour before drinking.

Austin Hope Grenache

The Syrah and Grenache grapes were grown in the Hope Family Vineyard in the Templeton Gap area of Paso Robles. Austin Hope planted them in 1995 to create Rhone style wines for the Austin Hope label. Cool ocean breezes and fog blow through gaps in the mountains there to give the vineyards a great climate for outstanding grapes. The same year he visited the Rhone Valley to study their vineyards and winemaking techniques.

Both of these wines will age well for at least another five years, maybe longer. And there’s a bonus, probably because of the economy: they are about $10 cheaper than they were two years ago.

Winery: Hope Family Wines has five different labels, but the Austin Hope Syrah and Grenache are the only wines that carry the winemaker’s name, so you know they’re going to be special.

Each brand represents a different emphasis. With his eponymous label Austin Hope wants to make spectacular, estate grown Syrah and Grenache.

The family has been growing grapes in the region for 30 years, but only started bottling their own wine in 1996 with Liberty School and Treana. They later added Candor, Austin Hope and Troublemaker.

Paso Robles is mid way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is one of the largest viticulture areas in the country, and is getting well known for making high quality wines.

Austin Hope was named winemaker of the year by the California Mid-State Fair in 2009, three years after his father was named wine person of the year by the same fair.

The Hopes also grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Mourvedre, Chardonnay, Marsanne, Viognier and Petite Sirah.

Goes with: We had the Syrah with a hearty vegetable beef soup, and it was lip-smacking good. The mix of the fruit flavors with the earthy vegetables was sublime. You might also try it with coq au vin, wild mushroom risotto or a simple, hot pancetta sandwich.


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