I've had the pleasure of reviewing several vintages of Andrew Murray's wines, many of which have found a home (though not for long) in my personal collection. 2011 was a year winemakers refer to as "interesting" - a word often reserved for art the observer really doesn't care for. It's no wonder. It was a long year with a late start and a very late finish, with some grapes being harvested just before freezing temperatures set in in December. So, with the arrival of these samples from the 2011 vintage, I set my expectations low.
2011 Andrew Murray Vineyards Syrah Santa Ynez Valley 'Tous les Jours' $18
Talk about making lemonade out of lemons. In this notoriously diffucult vintage, Andrew Murray has produced a convincingly authentic French Syrah. Never before has there been such conflagration of Franco characteristics in an American Syrah - dancing, fragrant Provencal botanicals light up the fruit, conjuring fertile fields of lavender and sun-kissed, grassy hillsides. Deep and dark, the taut fruit is infused by a laser-docued acidity uncommon on this side of the Atlantic. Yet deep in its core it remains a soul true to the Santa Ynez Valley. Splendid.
2011 Andrew Murray Vineyards GSM Blend Central Coast 'Esperance' $25
What a pleasant surprise. Not only did this bottling survive 2011, but represents the same kind of bright spot in California winemaking it does year in and year out. While not the persistent, haunting wine it has been in better vintages, the 2011 finds its place delivering deep to the experiential comfort zone. Full, round, and soft, there's nary a sharp edge. Once again, the Esperance represents the most appealing of AMV's lineup. Delish.