A passion for all things creative has inspired Ann Colgin throughout her career—from her years as an art expert and antiquarian at Sotheby’s to her decision, in 1992, to enter the realm of wine by founding Colgin Cellars. The latter, as anyone familiar with the top tier of California winemaking will know, has been one of the leading lights of a select school of boutique winemakers devoted to producing small quantities of superb artisanal wines, most of which are Cabernet Sauvignon–based. But one of Colgin’s other passions—her husband, fellow vintner and wine collector Joe Wender—furnished the inspiration for one of Colgin Cellars’ most rewarding releases to date: the Colgin IX Estate Syrah 2003. An avid enthusiast of northern Rhône wines, Wender wanted to plant a small amount of Syrah on the IX Estate in the Pritchard Hill region of Napa Valley, where Colgin Cellars has its winery. The rocky soil and high elevation have proved ideal for the Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage clones the couple selected, as evidenced in the black intensity of this remarkable vintage. Produced by winemaker Mark Aubert, the 2003 exhibits dark wild berry fruit spiced with pepper that lingers pleasingly on the palate before dissolving into earthier flavors of coffee, tobacco, and clay.