Keeping with the tradition established by Andrew Frei in 1890, Frei Brothers Reserve wines are crafted to reveal the personality of the land and bring out the natural expression of the fruit. This is why we chose the Russian River Valley as the home of our Syrah.
The Russian River Valley is one of the world’s most preeminent winegrowing regions. Close to the ocean, the valley’s summer warmth is moderated by fog and other cooling maritime influences, creating an ideal climate for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah grapes.
Wine maker notes
At Frei Brothers Winery, we craft our wines in a gentle, traditional style enhanced through modern technology that makes fruit the focus and showcases the best that each varietal and appellation have to offer.
The grapes for our Syrah were gently destemmed with approximately 20%-30% whole berries sent to the fermenter. We find that whole berry fermentation of our Syrah grapes produces concentrated, fresh, and forward dark fruit flavors in the finished wine. Fermentation proceeded with D254 and SYR yeast strains to give a wide array of flavors and aromas. We used 55% rotary and 45% upright fermenters to gently mix the juice and skins and prevent tannic bitterness. After 24 hours of cold soak, fermentation temperatures were monitored closely and kept at approximately 88°F to promote cap circulation for gentle, yet maximum extraction of flavor and body from the grape skins.
After fermentation, the wine was aged for over 7 months in French, European, and American oak barrels. The wine completed malolactic fermentation to soften the acids, and the barrels were racked during aging to clarify the wine naturally and to assist in the aging process. The wine was minimally fined and filtered.
Varietal Content: 98% Syrah, 2% Viognier
Harvest Notes: 2003 was one of the coolest growing seasons in recent history. The season began with rain followed by a stretch of dry cold weather; however, this did not impact the vines. Bud break, bloom, and veraison still occurred at the same time as in previous years. The time following veraison is most critical for the ripening of the fruit, and in 2003 it was very mild. Grapes ripened more slowly and produced rich ripe flavors ideal for more complex wines. Following the summer was a heat spike during the Labor Day period which sped up ripening. Due to this cool start and spike in temperature, the wines had ripe flavors and good acidity. Harvest was completed by early October.
Titratable Acidity: 1
Alcohol Level: 14
Residual Sugar: 0
Frei Brothers Reserve wines possess a fruit-forward character with intense aromas and flavors that reflect the land and climate that created the grapes. Our 2003 Syrah is big and rich with earthy aromas and flavors of dark blue and black berries, with a hint of black pepper spice. Balanced with subtle notes of smoke and toast, this full bodied Syrah has intense flavors with soft tannins and a long intense finish.
Frei Brothers Reserve is a winemaking story more than a century in the making. In 1890, Swiss immigrant Andrew Frei purchased the core of what is now Frei Ranch in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. The superb stretch of land was already a vineyard, but Frei brought it to prominence when he built a winery that produced 20,000 cases of wine annually by 1895. In 1903, Frei turned the winery over to his sons, Walter and Louis, who adopted the name Frei Brothers.
After the repeal of Prohibition, the vineyards caught the eye of Julio Gallo, winemaker for the rapidly expanding E. & J. Gallo Winery. The Gallo family began buying grapes from Frei Ranch, eventually signing an agreement to purchase the estate’s annual wine grape crop.
When Andrew Frei’s descendents retired in the late 1970s, the Gallo family purchased Frei Ranch, further developing the vineyard and the winery. Today, Frei Brothers Reserve carries on the rich legacy of both our home vineyard and Sonoma’s celebrated appellations.