When I started planning the brief trip to Santa Barbara, I also began to plot my assault on a bottle of locally produced Qupé. It’s challenging to find in my corner of the world and this winery owned by winemaker Bob Lindquist and investor Charles Banks, ranks high on the lists of those eager to search out Californian wines of purpose, place and legacy.
Bob is one of California’s original Rhône Rangers who in the 1980s promoted the planting and use of varietals from France’s Rhône Valley.
Since there is not much to do in tiny, downtown Buellton, we found ourselves at The Hitching Post II by 5pm. After starting off with an equally fabulous 2012 Au Bon Climat, Chardonnay (lemon curd with minerals, butterscotch and oak, all crisply balanced with admirable acidity), we moved on to this, one of Qupé’s renowned cool climate Syrahs.
Deep garnet with solid legs, the nose offers medium plus intense aromas of purple plum, black cherries, dried thyme, spicy black pepper and rich oak. The palate is dry with better than average acidity and delicately complex and velvety tannins. Flavours of more plum and boysenberry with garrigue and rosemary evolve into tobacco, salami and black olive tapenade.
The finish is extended, the wine complex and balanced with high – but not hot or boozy – alcohol. We opened this WSET Very Good plus wine at 9 years old (July 2014) and it was drinking perfectly but can easily be held until about 2016.