Primal Scream

Primal Scream is entirely Rhône.  Primal Scream is big.  Big explosive flavors where the Syrah is amplified by the Grenache.

Vintage 2017 winemaker's notes

91 cases produced     63% Syrah and 37% Grenache.  We farm at Terra Bella Vineyard, which at 1800 feet, is the highest Grenache and Syrah in the Paso Robles Adelaida District.

Our Rhone wines are a play in different percentages of Syrah vs Grenache.  Syrah grows from 0% in The Dish, to 25% in Touchy Feely, to 63% in this our 2017 Primal Scream.  And it’s so interesting to see how Syrah slowly takes over, darkening colors, saturating the hues, changing textures from silk to velvet.  Helping the flavors veer from red to blue.

Syrah adds spice both to the nose and to the palate.  This same spicy character reverberates in the empty mouth for minutes.  It both reminisces and invites to new sips.  It also adds tannin to the backbone of the wine.  Fine grained, but so efficient in cleansing the palate!  2017 Primal Scream is more food friendly than ever.  I imagine casseroles.  Powerful winter stews.  Game meat!  Turkey, anyone?

Vintage 2017 review

Opaque ruby.  Smoke- and spice-accented cherry and blackberry qualities on the nose, along with a floral nuance that emerges with air.  Juicy and appealing sweet, offering concentrated red/blue fruit preserve and floral pastille flavor and succulent herb and licorice flourishes.  Round, even tannings add shape to a long, spice-tinged finish that leaves a sappy boysenberry note behind.  Drink 2022 through 2030.
92 points;  Vinous  December 2020

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Vintage 2016 winemaker's notes

67 cases produced     70% Syrah and 30% Grenache.  We farm at Terra Bella Vineyard, which at 1800 feet, is the highest Grenache and Syrah in the Paso Robles Adelaida District.

Primal Scream is a different animal.  It is not Touchy-Feely + extra Syrah. Definitively not.  It is not a Grenache darkened by Syrah; rather but a Syrah uplifted by Grenache. For those that think that this is a theoretical, blackboard discussion, I say: go to your wine glass! The nose is powerful. Redolent of fruits and spices. A musky note takes over and opens up in leather and more spice. One can see where the urban legend of the Middle Eastern origin of Syrah came from! Evocation of bazaars…..

In the palate there is grip. Acidity, minerality and tannin collaborate to a tension that embraces the fruit. Almost like strong-men acrobats holding up the higher level of a human pyramid. Showing up the beauty and brightness for all to admire. The memory of Primal Scream in empty mouth is lingering and profound. Both mineral and acid, with dramatic presence of fruit.

Vintage 2016 reviews

The nose is substantial dense and dusty green herbs, smoky chocolate, dried plum and espresso.  The palate entry is an expressive polished black stone fruit and crushed rock that coats the mouth with silky textured herb, spiced peach and apricot.   Drink 2020 through 2030.
96 points;  purely domestic wine report  Volume 9.2 Summer 2020

Semi opaque, dark red in color, Primal Scream exhibits a nose of dark earthy fruit and is soft and silky on the attack with excellent richness and depth on the palate with a blackberry core.  It reveals hints of dark chocolate and black raspberry with incredible extract on the finish.   A hedonistic wine.
93 points;  International Wine Review  December 2020

Brilliant ruby.  Smoke- and spice-accented dark berries and vanilla on the deeply perfumed nose, along with a hint of minerality that builds in the glass.  Juicy cherry and black currant flavors show excellent clarity and a subtle olive note that strongly announces the Syrah component.  Picks up a suave floral nuance on the impressively long finish, which is framed by dusty, steadily building tannins.  Drink 2023 - 2032
92 points; Vinous  February 2020

Vintage 2014 winemaker's notes

Primal Scream in 2014, with 102 cases produced, is 61% Syrah and 39% Grenache.

I’ve already spoken about how happy we are with Terra Bella.  As the plants get older, as we know the vineyard better and as the plants get used to our farming practices, they deliver better and better fruit.

In this third edition of Primal Scream, 2014 shows a character that is less Wow! and more The Farm Winery.  A bit less bombastic and a bit more balanced.  The nose is complex, darker than last year.  It layers notes of red fruits and blackberries with hints of meat and black pepper. The palate shows the same notes in a frame of tension and vibrancy.  Tannin structure is there, but with a finer grain than 2013.  A support role instead of a protagonist.  The memory is savory and mineral.  Grenache gave us a surprise in 2014 - a rare year in which we found both abundant fruit (even after a severe and deliberate dropping of fruit at veraison) and high quality.

Vintage 2014 reviews

It is a rich and saturated wine with considerable purity of dark fruit flavors, hints of toasted oak, excellent balance and a long satisfying finish. Aged in new and used French oak for 29 months.
92 points; International Wine Review  December 2017

Very elegant aromas of black plum, black cherry and black currant meet with bay leaf and mint on the deep nose of this blend of 61% Syrah and 39% Grenache.  It's soft on the palate, with a cohesive flavor profile that pairs deep berry flavors with pepper and dried herbs. The Syrah is well tamed, proving mellow and soft overall.
92 points Wine Enthusiast  March 2018

"How about that finish!"  Video link
Wine Weirdos  December 2017

Vintage 2013 winemaker's notes

This is the second time we’ve made Primal Scream with 62 cases produced. 
It’s 73% Syrah and 27% Grenache. 

Wow.  Sorry, let me be more clear.  Wow!
As my nose approaches the glass, even before it gets there, there’s blue.  A blue note on the nose.  Not red fruit, not black.  A blue sensation.  And it gets bigger and bigger.  Hints of smoke.  Youth, exuberance.  I want my lung capacity to be bigger because the deeper I breathe in, more aromas show up.  The first sip is explosive.  Syrah is dominant here, showing its velvet texture instead of the silk of Grenache.  And the size of the tannin structure speaks of years of aging to come.  This is validated by a youthfulness of flavors that beg for food.  Meat! Jim has a rib-eye on the grill so I’ll recommend that.  The tannin keeps its grip on your palate without drying out, framing fruit notes for minutes.

Vintage 2013 reviews

Primal Scream is a blend of 73% Syrah and 27% Grenache and is a gorgeous wine offering blueberries and ripe plum aromas and baking spices with excellent intensity of flavor and soft round tannins.  Aged 28 months in a balance of new and once-used French oak.  Enjoy over the next 8 to 10 years.
92 points; International Wine Review  December 2016

Bright purple. Vibrant boysenberry and cassis scents on the highly perfumed nose; a smoky nuance and a hint of vanilla emerge as the wine stretches out. Smoky and concentrated in the mouth, offering appealingly sweet black and blue fruit flavors complemented by suggestions of black pepper, mocha and licorice. Finishes smooth and very long, displaying repeating smokiness and dusty, even tannins that sneak in late.  Drinking window:  2020 - 2026
92 points; Vinous   November 2017

The addition of Grenache here instead of the claret varieties bring a more direct style of juiciness to this deep, ripe, chocolate-tinged and clearly fruity bottling.  Its aromas are focused on concentrated blackberry character in initial impression with layers of spice, beef, creamy oak and cocoa beans, and the very full-bodied and mouthfilling texture that follows does an admirable job of carrying the wine without giving in to the potential here for heaviness.  Instead, it nicely avoids losing itself and promises to get better and better with time in bottle, and while it can be enjoyed now for its sheer youthful exuberance, we will wait.
91 points; Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine  March 2017

The nose shows aromas of peppercorn, meat and a sweet/savory spice carried by lively, focused blackberry.  The palate continues the seductive blackberry density from the nose, vibrant and richly structured, finishing with a dry, grippy texture.  Needs time.  Drink 2019 - 2025.
91 points; Purely Domestic Wine Report   March 2017

Review not yet released.
91 points; Wine Enthusiast  May 2017

Vintage 2012 winemaker's notes

This is the first time we’ve made this wine with just 46 cases produced.  We were enticed to do so by the 2012 vintage character.  It’s the year to go out on a limb!  We farm Primal Scream grapes at Terra Bella Vineyard, which at 1800 feet, is the highest Grenache and Syrah in the Paso Adelaida District.

It’s 61% Syrah and 39% Grenache.  You could call it the reverse side of the coin of Touchy-Feely!  (Same varietals with inverted percentages.)  Primal Scream is big where Touchy-Feely is playful and elegant.  Primal Scream is the closest a wine from The Farm Winery has come to the traditional Paso “model”, yet neither over-ripe nor losing minerality.

A bigger nose.  Not a drop of oak in spite of having spent two years in once-used barrels.  Big explosive flavors where the Syrah is amplified by the Grenache.  Positive feedback cycle!!  Full weight and velvet textures of ripe red fruits.  The minerality keeps it going and agile, and keeps the heat within balance.  The tannin holds everything upright and muscular.  A wine more for sharing with a friend or significant other before the meal than for pairing with the food itself.  After two hours decanting time, the mineral character takes a bigger step forward and becomes the dominant force of the wine.  This change in the decanter is unexpected.  It is not obvious from the initial fruit intensity, that with some air, minerality will become so important.  But it does.  And it fills us with satisfaction for the ageability it forecasts for Primal Scream in its inaugural vintage.

Vintage 2012 reviews

Absolutely brimming with very deep, unabashedly ripe, blackberry fruit and laced with lots of sweet, yet entirely sympathetic oak, this extravagant Syrah/Grenache blend plays to richness rather than subtlety and is anything but simple or staid.  It arguably wanders a little close to the brink of being too much, but it is solidly structured and so sure in fruit that it never once loses its footing.  It teases with notes of dark soils and spice behind its juicy immediacy, and it impresses as being a wine with very good places to go if allowed to age.
Hold it for a good half-decade or more.
94 points; Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine  November 2015

Deep dark aromatics of toasted plum, lavender and briar.  The palate has a juicy entry with beautifully layered piquant red fruit, jammy blackberry and sweet note of iodine, graphite, soy and grilled meats.  Drink 2016 - 2024.
93 points; purely domestic wine report  December 2015

Opaque ruby. Black raspberry, cherry compote and woodsmoke on the powerfully scented nose. Fleshy and expansive, offering concentrated red and blue fruit flavors and a subtle note of candied licorice. Picks up spiciness and energy with air and finishes on a smoky blue fruit note, delivering impressive thrust, clarity and persistence.  2018 - 2023
92 points; Vinous   September 2016