2005 Stark Wine Dry Creek Valley Syrah

Mission Codename: The old fashioned way

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Respond to reports that Stark Wine, in California’s Dry Creek Valley, has produced a remarkable Syrah

Mission Status: Accomplished

Current Winery: Stark Wine

Wine Subject: 2005 Syrah – Teldeschi & Unti Vineyard

Winemaker: Christian Stark


The popularity of Syrah is undeniable. Big and bold in flavor and texture, it packs a concentrated punch of flavor that many people love. This Rhone varietal, although many believe that the grape originated in the Persia region, is 100% French in lineage. The Syrah grape is directly descendant from the Monduese Blanche and Dureza varietals and is grown worldwide with great success. Today’s delightful Syrah is a bold delight with original flavors, deep aromatics and a ultra-fine mouth feel. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and interesting mission report below

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep ruby with a dark garnet heart. The wine also has a pronounced snappy springiness to its surface that, when swirled, leaves behind stubby, slow-moving legs that take a long time to emerge, before finally crawling slowly down the glass

Smell – Beautifully aromatic with perfumy black cherry, black currant, dusky earth, fine black and white pepper, soft Christmas spices, tobacco, dusty mushroom (mineral) and smoky meats

Feel – Super light with a pronounced wetness at first, then the wine deepens on the mid-palate, digging in with a slight tannic bite that gradually emerges, bringing a slight dryness

Taste – Delicious layers of flavors, including cherry, red plum, soft dry minerals, and soft cedar

Finish – Ripe, juicy and bright, softly mouth-coating, delicious and supple, with soft tannins and flavors that go on and on

Conclusion – This is a delightful departure from many of the California Syrahs we have sampled of late. With a lighter than usual feel and flavors that lean to the bright side, rather than dark and rich, this is a Syrah that delivers fun and elegance, rather than heavy handedness – as some Syrah may tend to do. I hesitate to call this light-feeling wine a delicate wine, because while it does have a light feel, it is also long on big flavors and deep aromatics. Starting with incredible fruit from Unti and Teldeschi, Chris Stark has crafted a wonderfully approachable wine that pairs beautifully with most foods. We are so happy to have found Christian’s wines and we are even happier to share them with you today. Enjoy!

Mission Report:

It was a beautiful day, and me and Agent Sparkle were rushing from winery to winery, performing a rapid string of mini missions. We had been tasked by HQ to gather intel on several wineries in the Dry Creek Valley. We also had several evaluation samples to pick up along the way.

We love spending time in The DCV, so we had no complaints.

The Dry Creek Valley is a really remarkable place, with a great diversity of wine varietals and winemaking styles. Diverse, too, is the range of differentiation of a single varietal of grape – like Syrah. While not the most common grape grown in the valley, some really remarkable examples can be found here. Teldeschi Vineyard, itself a 4th generation family-farmed vineyard and Unti Vineyard, a DCV legend, produce some of the finest DCV Syrah.

When we finally arrived at Stark Winery, to meet with the husband and wife team of Christian (winemaker) and Jen Stark (General Manager), we were pooped from the frenetic pace of the day so far. We parked the “Top Secret Wine Van” and took in the beauty of the estate property. The afternoon was cool, but sunny, and a light mist hung over the vineyards.

Christian found us gawking at the property and invited us inside, where the amazing aromas of their cooking filled the air. We met Jen inside, and Christian explained that they were preparing meatballs for the evenings entertaining and wine tasting with friends. Sitting on a table was an open bottle of their Syrah, and two fresh glasses.

The wine was poured and an extended round of sniffing, swirling and sipping ensued. We chatted about their wonderful wine and about their winemaking philosophy.

Christian and Jen craft ultra-premium wines from the finest fruit, grown by vineyards that employ sustainable farming practices. They donate a portion of their profits to the arts, and their passion for incredible wine shines through in the Syrah and Viognier that they craft.

Today’s Stark Syrah is a delicious treat, and a real departure from the overly robust Syrah sometimes made by California producers. Found in this wine is elegance, balance and a bright acidity that make the wine a wonderful companion to most foods.

We had a great visit with Christian and Jen, and we hope that you have a chance to get to know them… through their great wine.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of Unti Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.

The location of Teldeschi Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.

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