If it’s true that the best vineyards grow in extreme circumstances, Halcon Vineyard gets high marks for extreme-ism alone. 2500 feet altitude (very high for California vines), rocky, windy, wild, remote (southern Mendocino, many miles from a highway), vines planted super-tight. Paul and Jackie Gordon, owners of Halcon, sell their grapes as well as make wine from them. For their “Alturas” Syrah, they ferment half whole cluster with no yeast addition, age with a little bit of new French oak, unfined, unfiltered.
This is so Northern Rhone-like you might say it’s a Cal wine but you wouldn’t say so with confidence. Gravel, spicy and dried herbs penetrate the plums, blueberries and raspberries. The Gordons compare their vineyard terroir-wise (geology, climate, aspect) to Northern Rhone’s Cote Rotie. They compare their wine to this famous Syrah place as well. Good reason. And for a third, or a quarter, the price.