This is a new cycle of releases from Vie, a small urban winery located in San Francisco. It was started in 2004 by winemaker Bryan Kane with the support of a small group of friends. It crafts Rhone style wines and Zinfandel from grapes sourced from outstanding vineyards throughout California. It follows Old World winemaking techniques with the aim of producing high quality wines that reflect their terroir. Todd Seaver, who joined the operation in 2005 as assistant winemaker, today serves as head winemaker. All the wines reviewed here like those in the previous release are well-made and exemplary Rhone-style wines. They offer good depth and intensity of flavor, noteworthy texture, and excellent balance and acidity for aging. Bryan Kane is clearly one of the leading lights among the Rhone Rangers. Winery Phone (415) 756-1791
Vie 2011 L’Intruse Mourvedre North Coast ($39) 90
The L’Intruse is a delicious elegant wine of spicy dark red berry fruit with toasty notes. It is perfectly balanced with soft round tannins and a long finish. Enjoy over the next 6 to 8 years.
Vie 2011 2011 Syrah Las Madres Vineyard Los Carneros ($39) 92
This is a gorgeous cool climate Syrah. Light, elegant and refined with red and black berry fruit and a hint of earth. It exhibits concentrated fruit flavors and spice beautiful balance, round tannins and a long finish.
Vie Melange Maison II Old Vines California ($29) 89
The Melange Maison is a tasty blend of Syrah, Mourvédre and Grenache. Fermented with indigenous yeast and aged 24 months in French oak barrels, it is elegant on the palate with earthy dark berry fruit flavors reflecting the greater presence of Syrah than in the previous blend. Soft and round on the palate yet rather dry on the finish.
Vie 2011 Syrah White Hawk Vineyard Santa Barbara County ($45) 92
The 2011 Syrah White Hawk Vineyard displays a dark ruby purple color and fragrant aromas of black berry and toasted oak. It is fresh and lively on the palate and richly concentrated and well oaked with dark berry fruit flavors and hints of chocolate or mocha. It is velvet smooth with firm round tannins and a persistent finish. A gorgeous wine. Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 28% new. Cellar a year and enjoy it over the next decade.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler