Jolie-Laide, “Les Saisons dans les Abyses” Syrah
Jolie-Laide, “Les Saisons dans les Abyses” Syrah

Jolie-Laide, “Les Saisons dans les Abyses” Syrah

California, United States 2020 (750mL)
Regular price$43.00
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Jolie-Laide, “Les Saisons dans les Abyses” Syrah

Jolie-Laide founder Scott Schultz, the onetime Wine Director at Napa Valley’s famed Bouchon, apprenticed with several California Syrah whisperers (Pax Mahle; Arnot-Roberts), so he knows how to capture the essence of the variety without any unnecessary adornments. This is a tangy, cool-climate expression from two acclaimed Central Coast vineyards, and while its label may evoke Renaissance-era gentility, its name, “Les Saisons dans les Abyses,” is the French translation of the heavy-metal banger “Seasons in the Abyss,” by Slayer.

The Jolie-Laide operation is based in Sebastopol, but their vineyard sources are scattered across California, from Mendocino to Santa Cruz and beyond. Schultz first landed in California in 2007 and quickly found himself gravitating toward the “production” side of the wine business. Following several deep-dive apprenticeships, he launched his Jolie-Laide label in 2010, amassing an impressive collection of grower-partners from whom he sources fruit. All the Jolie-Laide wines are characterized by a natural, “minimal intervention” approach: Grape bunches are left intact, foot-crushed, and fermented using only ambient yeasts. Only used barrels are employed for aging. Sulfur is added only at the point of bottling, and in the lowest concentrations possible. The elevation of the two vineyard sources, combined with the poor soil and the 100% whole-cluster fermentation, produces a Syrah of notable energy and spice, with moderate alcohol and crisp acidity.

Syrah for this bottling comes from the Brosseau and Coast View vineyards, both nestled in the Gabilan Mountains at elevations of 2,200-2,400 feet. The Gabilan Range effectively picks up where the Santa Cruz Mountains leave off, running south-southeast along the Monterey and San Benito County lines. It contains one of the few significant outcroppings of limestone in California, and is home to AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) such as Chalone and Mt. Harlan. Soils are described as decomposed granite with “veins” of limestone.

While many Syrahs skew almost purple/black in color, this one is a deep ruby/garnet, with a beautiful assortment of fruit, earth, and spice sensations on the nose and palate: blackberries, pomegranate, violets, lavender, black pepper, bay leaf, roasted meat, and tapenade. Medium-plus in body, deeply concentrated, yet tangy and lifted, it has some grip to its tannins that will soften with time in a decanter (30-45 minutes) or in your cellar. A classically styled Syrah for Provençal-style lamb or beef daube.

Jolie-Laide, “Les Saisons dans les Abyses” Syrah

United States


Columbia Valley

Like many Washington wines, the “Columbia Valley” indication only tells part of the story: Columbia Valley covers a huge swath of Central
Washington, within which are a wide array of smaller AVAs (appellations).


Willamette Valley

Oregon’s Willamette Valley has become an elite winegrowing zone in record time. Pioneering vintner David Lett, of The Eyrie Vineyard, planted the first Pinot Noir in the region in 1965, soon to be followed by a cadre of forward-thinking growers who (correctly) saw their wines as America’s answer to French
Burgundies. Today, the Willamette
Valley is indeed compared favorably to Burgundy, Pinot Noir’s spiritual home. And while Pinot Noir accounts for 64% of Oregon’s vineyard plantings, there are cool-climate whites that must not be missed.


Santa Barbara

Among the unique features of Santa Barbara County appellations like Ballard Canyon (a sub-zone of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA), is that it has a cool, Pacific-influenced climate juxtaposed with the intense luminosity of a southerly
latitude (the 34th parallel). Ballard Canyon has a more north-south orientation compared to most Santa Barbara AVAs, with soils of sandy
clay/loam and limestone.


Paso Robles

Situated at an elevation of 1,600 feet, it is rooted in soils of sandy loam and falls within the Highlands District of the Paso Robles AVA.

New York

North Fork

Wine growers and producers on Long Island’s North Fork have traditionally compared their terroir to that of Bordeaux and have focused on French varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

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