Ampelos Cellars Delta: the Difference Grenache Santa Rita Hills Ca. 20101

A translucent ruby in the glass, but the attraction ends there. Blueberry, crushed cranberry, cherry ad thyme on the nose. But for the blueberry, the nose might have been ethereal. We’ll just never know. The palate nearly tracks the nose, but with an added element of cola that brushes along the finish. Blueberry leads the attack and the finish. A very linear wine. I see no up-side. Almost no sediment. 14.1% alc. 04.30.18. (Our first bottle together following our return from Sonoma.) With assorted blue cheeses. Recommended with Reservations.

Ampelos Cellars Bacchus Syrah Santa Rita Hills Ca. NV

Bacchus made his way out from behind some barrels to greet me ... or at least check me out. His easy swagger made me feel welcome. An hour later, as Peter walked me through the story of Ampelos and its wines, my 12 year old daughter, recently completing a tour of Lompoc with my wife and now bored from waiting in the car, impatiently pushes her way through the door with the look that only a bored 12 year old can deliver to a parent. Bacchus, sensing the child’s insouciance, made himself available for entertainment. In one of the most generous wine visits I encountered in all of Santa Barbara - and I encountered many - Peter shared wine after wine with me. And Bacchus looked after my daughter. As we finally pulled out of the complex holding the Ampelos winery, she said, “That was the best winery visit for me. I wish all the other wineries had a dog like Bacchus.”

When Ampelos announced its multi-vintage Syrah in support of a dog rescue program and named in memory of Bacchus, there was no doubt of my support with the order of a few bottles along with both a faint smile and moist eye.

While usually not a fan of multi-vintage, non-sparkling wines, I was intrigued how wines from 2011 through 2015 and consisting entirely of clone 383 would deliver. Surprisingly lighter in color than I would have guessed, the dark ruby sits invitingly in the glass. When first opened, a strong reductive band-aid smell emerged. Eventually, notes of pomegranate, cherry, roasted tomatoes, cinnamon, candy apple, bacon and smoke emerge from the glass. Those translate over and across the palate in every respect when, as the wine continues to evolve, flavors of brown sugar, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper carry from attack to the deep mid-palate. In no way is the wine jammy, but it is big and bright. The long mocha finish invites you back to the glass again and again. It’s a friendly wine with a very appropriate name. Thanks Bacchus.

Very clean with almost no sediment. 14.2% alc. With roast chicken under roasted tomato and olive tapenade. 03.15.18. Recommended.

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