The Unknown has taken on many different looks over the past four vintages. It began in 2006 as a small cuvée highlighting the magnificence of Kick Ranch and its volcanic soils. Then it morphed into a blend of transcendent Sonoma and Mendocino County vineyards. Now, it breaks new ground as my first Syrah with a touch of Viognier.

As usual, the core of the Unknown is comprised of three clones from Kick Ranch. The unctuous blue and black fruits that highlight the Unknown’s core are directly attributed to Kick Ranch’s Hermitage, 877, and 470 clones. The surrounding spice and savory elements come from two Bennett Valley vineyards: Judge and Jemrose. These vineyards add the Estrella River and 383 clones with accents of 174, 877, and 470. And the Viognier? Well, I didn’t go far to source it. Many thanks to Jim Mack of the Jemrose Vineyard for allowing me to get my hands on such valuable juice.

The combination of Viognier and Syrah is far from groundbreaking; in fact, I was first exposed to it almost a decade earlier during my stint in Côte-Rôtie. I decided to add Viognier to this edition of the Unknown because I wanted to explore how it could accentuate the delicate aspects of Syrah. Furthermore, I felt it could help balance the more brooding characteristics of Syrah.

Fermented with eighty-five percent whole clusters, aged in twenty percent new French oak for ten months, and bottled without fining or filtration, the 2009 Unknown is composed of ninety-eight percent Syrah and two percent Viognier.

An immediate attack of infused berry flavors. Ripe elements of boysenberry, blueberry, and kirsch explode from the glass. The Viognier’s influence begins to emerge as the wine opens. Pretty floral elements of orange blossom and white rose intermingle with lasting impressions of huckleberry and blackberries. Hints of slate and wet stone accent the potpourri of flavors. As is becoming its signature, the dense and structured palate is accentuated with dark chocolate, white pepper, and lavender.