I first came across Stark Wine on a trip to California’s Dry Creek Valley last summer. Arriving too late in the day to do any wine tasting, we headed to a local grocery store in Healdsburg to pick up some provisions and grabbed a bottle of locally produced Syrah. The bottle in question was a 2006 Stark Wine Syrah, with fruit sourced from Teldeschi and Unti Vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley. The big, ripe, and friendly fruit of this Syrah was well received by all. On a visit to Unti Vineyards (the winery) the next day, we mentioned to Sebastian Pochan, Unti’s winemaker, that we had really enjoyed Stark’s Syrah. The Dry Creek Valley being a small world, we were told that winemaker/owner Christian Stark was opening up a new tasting room in Healdsburg and that we should stop by.
The next day, we paid a visit to Garagiste Healdsburg, the tasting room that Stark Wine shares with Cartograph Wines, another fine producer. Unfortunately, Garagiste would not be opening for two to three more weeks. Lucky for us, Christian Stark allowed us to come in to the unfinished tasting room and try his latest Syrah, the 2009 Eaglepoint Ranch reviewed below. We let him know that we had really enjoyed his 2006 Syrah and he was very thankful, but said that he favored the 2009 (I agree with him).
The 2006 Syrah was sold out at the winery, but we were able to load up at the grocery store, where they still had a case left. To our dismay, several of these bottles turned out to be heat damaged. Despite this misfortune, my memory of the 2006 will be of the enjoyment that we had drinking it on the patio and the great tone that it set for the rest of the trip. My wine trips these days consist mostly of appointments, but I always like to leave some time open to see where chance may lead me. Sometimes, the unexpected visits turn out to be among the most memorable.
Stark Wine Syrah, Eaglepoint Ranch, Mendocino County 2009
Price: Suggested retail is $42.00
Date Tasted: 6/23/2012
From The Winery: 14.5% alcohol, 118 cases produced
Impressions/Notes: A “Stark” contrast (I apologize, but couldn’t help myself) to the 2006 Stark Syrah. Deep violet in color. An interesting aroma profile, with rich, dark berry aromas, minerals, and eucalyptus. Well-balanced, with a lingering finish. Cherry and cigar flavors really popped in the mouth. This Syrah beams elegance.
Rating: Recommended/Highly Recommended (88-92), 2.5/5 Value
Stark Wine Pinot Noir, Windsor Oaks Vineyard, Russian River Valley 2009
Price: Suggested retail is $44.00
Date Tasted: 7/3/2012
From The Winery: 14.2% alcohol, 105 cases produced
Impressions/Notes: The first Pinot Noir released by Stark. On the hearty side, and loaded with cherry, dill, and cola. A considerable oak presence imparted vanilla and cedar aromas and left a strong oaky aftertaste. A pretty good effort for a first release.
Rating: Recommended (86-89), 2/5 Value