Poppys and Winery

Poppys and Winery


Given proximity to the Cabs of Distinction Weekend I’ve decided to devote this week’s post to the concept of distinction.  Specifically what might make a wine distinct, or not so distinct–perhaps even indistinct or homogeneous.  First, some definitions:


: different in a way that you can see, hear, smell, feel, etc. : noticeably different

: easy to see, hear, smell, feel, etc.

: strong and definite


: of the same or a similar kind or nature

: of uniform structure or composition throughout 



Lupin and Cover Crop


I poured for a customer recently who enjoyed our wines but commented on their lightness of body.  He cited two other local wineries whose wines he described as ‘distinctive’.  It took the entirety of my self restraint to refrain from stating my dynamically opposed opinion that the wines to which he referred both fall into a category I generally refer to as homogeneous.  As a result of this interaction, I am eager to explore the concept of distinctness and homogeneousness as they relate to wine.  Further, I am compelled to wonder at the distinction in perspective that results in my use of these descriptions in contrast to a customer’s.

As established in a previous post, those of us who work the tasting room spend a lot of time tasting and thinking about wine.  Further a large percentage of that time is spent with the wines we are pouring.  Wines that tend to stand out, or be distinctive, to me are generally wines that awaken my palate in an unexpected way.  The current trend in winemaking is to produce wines with relatively high alcohol, relatively low acidity, and fairly mild tannin.  Such wines hit what food and beverage marketing professionals refer to as a ‘bliss point‘ with most consumers as they tend to be mouthfilling, smooth, and quaffably sweet.  As a reaction to what I, as the result of incessantly tasting wine, perceive as a homogenizing effect on the industry, I tend to respond negatively to these characteristics while simultaneously remaining aware of why they appeal to most consumers.

It is as the result of general wine trend awareness that discussions like the one I mention above are difficult.  It is true that in comparison to many wines from Paso Robles, our core (orange label) wines feel lighter in the mouth.  This is because we harvest them at a point where they have more acidity, less sugar, and after fermentation, less alcohol.  I find this lightness to be pleasantly unique, you might even say distinct, when compared to the growing number of wines worldwide that are taken to higher ripeness in order to achieve more viscosity on the palate and deeper concentration in the glass.  It is difficult to articulate this conflict to an opinionated consumer, but ever my desire, nay my mission, to succeed in doing so.  The vast array of worthy an unique wines, occasionally overshadowed by their arguably more aggressive cousins, are more than worth it.

Visit me in the Halter Ranch Tasting Room.  We are open 11-5 daily.  If you are interested in going into even further depth at a special Cab Collective event featuring our winemaker Kevin Sass, check out our events page here.  Cheers and see you next week!  In the meantime ponder this:  what wine or wines are distinct to you?


Acorn Woodpecker Stash


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