In 2015, our Estate Syrah vineyard stretched to four its consecutive streak of producing an abundant quantity of superb grapes. As is the case with all growing campaigns, though, there were nuances to the season that distinctly marked the character of the harvest and the resulting wine. Compared to the densely focused 2014 effort, the 2015 is a whisker lighter on its feet while still showcasing the spirited savory dark fruit notes that are an essential hallmark of our home site. Ravishingly purple with slight hints of blue, the wine’s dark fruit opulence starts to unfold generously after 15 minutes in the glass. Fine-grained tannins both balance the palate at present and also confirm that 5-8 years of cellar potential is well within the wine’s grasp.
The complex layers of fruit and spice that define this wine’s flavor architecture are exactly why we remain thrilled to have planted Syrah in our ‘backyard’. Our reliably cool growing conditions allow us to capture a distinctively complex matrix of Syrah characteristics. This helps us consistently produce wines that are fabulously adaptive to a wide array of dishes (both rich and delicate) that might appear at your table.
Appellation: Sonoma Coast
Varietal: 97% Syrah, 3% Viognier
Harvest Date: Three separate harvest dates between 9/21- 10/1
Cases: 190 Produced
Fermentation: Aged 22 months in Kadar 400 L puncheons of which 20% were new.
Baker Lane Estate vineyard, though non-certified, is farmed using organic/bio-dynamic principles. A cold soak of seven days preceded a natural yeast fermentation with no added enzymes.
Included in the Box
2x 2015 Baker Lane Estate Vineyard Syrah, Sonoma Coast
12x 2015 Baker Lane Estate Vineyard Syrah, Sonoma Coast
Baker Lane Vineyards
Owners: Owned and operated by Stephen Singer and Michel Boynton
Location: Sebastopol, California
Baker Lane Vineyards Family, located in Sebastopol, California, is owned and operated by Stephen Singer and Michel Boynton. The winery has provided Stephen the rare opportunity to transform its 15 acres into a bio-dynamically farmed Syrah and Viognier vineyard with singular terroir, olive orchard, and home. Baker Lane’s mission to produce sustainably grown, exceptional expressions of cool climate (and most importantly, table friendly) Syrah, Viognier and Pinot Noir has appropriately drawn on all aspects of Stephen’s skill set.
Baker Lane Vineyards was inspired by great wines from around the world that express something distinctive and delicious about taste and site. The agricultural practices propel a commitment to winegrowing and winemaking that gains empirical heft with each passing year of boots in the vineyard. As distinct taste expressions emerge from each harvest, it’s clear that there IS a special flavor identity that comes to mind and palate. A decade of winemaking has confirmed the flavor and character of Baker Lane Wine’s terroir; now it’s our pleasurable quest to produce the best version of it that each growing season will allow.
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Hey Casemates Community! We hope you enjoy this exclusive Casemates offer on a special wine we have yet to release at the winery.
Upon release, retail will be $50 at the winery and you can get it here for 50% off on 2 bottles and 63% off a case. It is something we’ve never done before hoping to get this wine into the savvy hands of the Casemates Community. Our grapes are organically farmed on our tiny 7-acre vineyard located on our home property in West Sonoma County (Sebastopol, California). Each row is hand combed for the best fruit, handpicked and cared for with incredible attention to preserving the magic that happens in our tiny microclimate. We hope you will enjoy this wine around your table with good friends and good food. Cheers!
Hi folks! Please accept my sincerest apologies for this late Rattage. I planned on doing it Yesterday/Sunday evening, however I got stuck in Napa overnight and ended up making the drive home and straight to work early this morning. I just opened the Baker Lane and will endeavor to make this as concise as possible.
I have nothing but great things to say about every Baker Lane offering I have seen on here. The quality, complexity and price have always made an undeniable value proposition.
There is definitely a Baker Lane terroir on the nose. Very typical Sonoma Dirt, leather, barn are how most typically describe it. Out of the bottle there is a healthy dose of sweet cherry, some blackberry and a very subtle bitter essence. Can’t tell if it’s the from the berry or mineral terroir. It’s interesting. I like it.
The body is slightly lighter than you would expect. I would describe in broad stroke as a medium bodies Syrah. The mouthfeel is not as heavy, chewy and jammy as the previous Baker Lanes we’ve seen on here. It is also not as dark. Mineral terroir carries through into the noticeably acidic body. Once it’s opened up though, the acidic bite is diminished. A light and tart plum occupies the center and segues into a finish void of any spice that is surprisingly dry and tannic for such a light mouthfeel. It’s interesting.
At 13% ABV it is very approachable. There is something Bordeaux-esque about this wine. I think it’s a good quality wine. Just as good as any of the others we’ve seen before. Baker Lane has always garnered rave reviews at my Wine Summits. It is a fantastic every day sipper at a very approachable price.
So far Baker Lane has been a 1-3 case automatic-buy for me, however I will be sitting this one out. Not for the wine, but for the value. I think the pricing this time around really diminishes the compelling value proposition for me unfortunately. At ~$14/btl my last Baker Lane was an insane steal for this caliber of wine. Approaching $20/btl seems a bit forces me to start comparing it to some pretty serious competition unfortunately.
It is still a great wine and is sure to please or satisfy even your most demanding guest. Get a case! It’s still better than anything you’ll find at the grocery store…LOL.
@winesnob Just a note on your pricing comment. The previous Baker Lane wines offered here around the $14 price point were the Cuvee bottling, which is a winery $32 msrp. The Estate, as this is, was also offered previously here on casemates for around $18, similar to this, both with a $50 winery msrp.
@kaolis unfortunately for me, I get around wine country far too much to play along and have a fairly good grasp of what’s out there and what a wine enthusiast’s options really are. A lot of wineries these days tend to be a bit oblivious to their competition when it comes to their pricing. This is certainly not a $50/btl Syrah. Not by any stretch. It is essentially priced out of its league. I say this with all due respect because I understand all that goes into making a good wine. Last week I picked up a case of Syrah from Amador that would run circles around this Baker Lane all day for $14/btl direct from the tasting room. So do I pay for this or just call them and order another case? 4 out of 5 wineries I walk into are due for a reality check.
@winesnob Thanks for the commentary about the value proposition. This is extremely helpful. I’ve never been to California wine country, but my observation (after switching from big box stores to casemates to source my wine) is that there’s scant correlation between Quality and MSRP. But even winemakers have gotta eat, right?
@KitMarlot indeed. Not all great wines are expensive and not all expensive wines are great. I’ve heard the excuse that “winemakers gotta eat”. Sure! It’s a free market! But there should be no surprise when inventory simply doesn’t move. That should be enough of an indicator of a disconnect from reality. The issue I see is that many wineries are not doing any market research/surveys to understand where their value proposition falls and then build their strategy around that. Furthermore I’m observing that there’s a tendency to over leverage their operations and this in turn results in added pressure on their ability to offer competitive value. There is also a lack of creativity and originality in product and marketing strategy.
This weekend in Napa was a stark reminder of this. The entire region is a joke, over leveraged and completely out of touch. I’ve bought some great wines on casemates for a head scratching deal, but then I go to their website and it’s painfully obvious they wouldn’t have to give it away if they priced it more realistically.
Casemates has a treasure trove of data. All we have to do is look at similar priced deals that sold out in hours (of which there are many). I’m fairly certain those wines are several notches above this one in a side-by-side taste test.
@winesnob I like the cut of your jib. I appreciate your report, albeit a bit restrained after reading further. Not necessarily tasting-room-only wines that most of us could never compare, do you have anything you feel is comparable for the, lesser, price? Even better, something that has been offered on here?
I don’t have the experience you have, but (and I won’t dignify them with a search) your explanation reminds me of a wine on here where the only thing the vinter had to point out were their caves in Napa. Despite the grapes not coming from there, and no indication they were even pressed or vinted there. Napa! +$35, please.
@KitMarlot@winesnob This also reminds me of how many wineries are so massively in debt because the land prices have skyrocketed in Napa and Sonoma. The value proposition just generally isn’t there for new brands, especially if you compare to wines from outside of California or the USA. This also applied to my more local tasting areas of Santa Barbara County and Temecula (don’t get me started on Temecula’s price delusions).
It’s just insane to think that all wine is worth $30+/bottle if it’s a small winery. I like to support smaller winemakers, but the prices are nuts.
@KNmeh7 precisely my point. As a home winemaker my amortized cost per bottle after a few 2-3 case batches was under $2 per bottle and I didn’t have the economies of scale of a winery. The average bottle of wine cost less than a dollar to produce. So ideally what we pay for is the added operating cost of a winery - tasting room, warehousing, demand/supply trends, and in large part brand, perception of exclusivity and hopefully quality.
For me if someone is asking $30+ per bottle for wine I fully expect a high quality, well crafted, limited small batch production wine (a few hundred cases or less). That is exclusive. At that scale the winemaker has a finer control over the quality and complexity of the wine. It becomes art in a bottle as opposed to newspaper print…LOL
I stopped by Staggs Leap this weekend. They wanted $65 to taste 3 wines with a 30 minute wait AND $250+ per bottle for a cab. Staying open minded I asked the manager what the production size was? She had no clue and finally came back with 3700 cases!!! You really think there’s anything special about Staggs leap today?? I felt insulted as a Californian.
Everybody is wasting $millions building fairytale wineries instead of focusing on the wine. They want to create perception that the wine is special instead of making it truly special. So to pay for the ornate obscene tasting room and grounds, they jack the price of the same old unoriginal wine. It’s a lazy marketing strategy at best.
@klezman@KNmeh7 your estimate is off by an order of magnitude. Looking at the report on pricing for premium Syrah grape in Sonoma and Napa County combined for the 2015 vintage remained well under $3k per ton on the high side and as low as $600. This is for Premium grapes. Furthermore this is an estate Syrah so a lot of that market cost pressure is avoided. Even for your argument to hold, this would have to be from a Vineyard considered premium in Sonoma/Napa. I don’t think that’s the case here and for most wines out there. Last time I checked, there’s a glut of wine. It seems the California wine industry has lost its collective mind or is high off its own supply.
@KNmeh7@winesnob I was referring to Napa Cabernet prices, but yes, Syrah is cheaper. And as far as an average goes, I’m still high. Apparently Napa Cab averaged a bit north of $7800/ton while all Napa grapes averaged $5571/ton. Of course the outlier prices are north of $25k/ton for Napa Cabernet.
But hey, all these wineries need to amortize their multimillion dollar loans they got to build their fancy tasting rooms! So $50/bottle it is!
@klezman@KNmeh7 exactly my point. Anyone paying that much for grapes is already out of business. However your numbers are highly inflated and appear to be coming out of thin air when I look at the county report. The max I saw for last year’s vintage report was around $8k/ton for premium grapes (whatever the hell that means). I call snake oil. Yes they have to pay the mortgages on multi million dollar tasting rooms. Everybody wants to be a big gawdy Chateau now. It’s a dumb failed business plan. Hoping to sell enough $50-$120 bottles only to turn around and dump excess inventory on casemates, Costco, trader Joe’s or some wholesale distributor. There is a big bubble in Napa and Sonoma by proxy and it’s ready to implode. Everyone who made an honest wine has since left and it’s just a bunch of corporate owners who know little about wine, the art and passion therein. Take $20 down to Total Wine and find winery direct wine from a French Bordeaux to Italian Nebbiolo to Tuscan to Argentinian Malbec that is far far far superior to this Baker Lane trying to sell for $50/btl. California wineries have lost their minds.
The second one is 10 years old, but I figure a 10-year old price report is a decent floor for today’s outlier prices.
In any case, I agree with you on the economics of California (and WA and OR) wines. There are still plenty of good values out there to be found, but they’re getting fewer and farther in between. And there’s also the pile of wineries (e.g. Turley, Dirty & Rowdy, Once & Future, Rivers-Marie, and more) who sell everything out via their mailing lists.
@kaolis it’s not about having anything both ways. First I gave my honest feedback on the wine and its characteristics. Nose, body, finish, so folks get an idea of what they’re buying.
Next I gave my opinion on the price point. I kept them separate because the later is my opinion. I left it open for those who didn’t mind paying extra for this wine and assured them it won’t be a total waste of money. I realize some may like Baker Lane specifically so it may be justified.
Now after someone tried to suggest this is a $50 bottle I felt the need to correct this terribly misguided perception.
This is a decent $14/btl case. At $20/btl case you can certainly do better. Which is my point. $30/btl is a a bad joke. $50/btl is delusional and oblivious to the wine world at large.