Sashi Moorman, Melissa Sorongon & Peter Pastan
Bien Nacido Syrah 2017
If you love Syrah, tasting Bien Nacido Vineyard in the hands of Sashi Moorman is an out-of-body experience. For those not familiar with this vineyard, (but geeky enough to care), Bien Nacido is to Santa Barbara County as Hermitage is to the Northern Rhône. Translation: it’s the GOAT. Sashi pioneered this cool-climate style of Syrah in the region by employing a number of classic techniques long considered too time consuming, obsessive, and high risk. Well, the risk paid off.
Sashi Moorman is American wine’s Benjamin Franklin — ever tinkering, iterating, and going against the grain. His lightning rod: cool-climate Syrah, which he’s reimagined in the vein of Côte Rôtie by cultivating closer to the ocean — and harvesting earlier — than any of his colleagues dared to imagine. Sashi wouldn’t call himself a natural winemaker. Instead, he “makes wine naturally.” This might seem like a subtle distinction, but it actually reveals quite a lot about Sashi’s inherent pragmatism. More craftsman than banner-waving idealist, Sashi’s commitment to the environment is part of his mission to produce profound, terroir-driven wines. As such, his holistic approach goes far beyond any legal definition of organic. He tends his vines with the sensitivity of a gardener, forgoing synthetic sprays in favor old-school applications like sulfur and copper. The same goes in the cellar, where every decision reflects an inquisitive mind grappling with wine’s big questions.