Paso Robles Wines in Context

I love wine. I love tasting wine in all of its myriad expressions. My personal introduction to wine drinking happened while I was living in France and Italy in the early 1980’s. Oh, the many wine trips my friends and I took! Albarino and Cornas. Condrieu and Super Tuscans, Chablis and Barolo. Sancerre and Rioja. Some wines were lighter and some bolder and some seemingly impenetrable. As my friends and family introduced me to their respective favorite regions, the intro came with at least a modicum of education. One learned that Cornas was not a Beaujolais and should never be consumed before at least 5, but better 10-15 years. Ditto Barolo. Rose was the wine of choice when warm Mediterranean climes dictated cold wines, but when many of these regions were still producing mostly insipid white wines. Chablis and Sancerre accompanied oysters. It was all so much fun……and from my perspective, logical. I think that I was lucky to be introduced to wine by French and Italians who were so very passionate about their countries’ viticultural treasures. I am not sure that it is even common for young French and Italians to learn about wine the same way now.

When I moved to Paso Robles 18 years ago I found myself working with a new group of wine lovers. This group was unencumbered by my former wine education and often by any formal wine education of their own. There was no need for context for their wine enjoyment. You can grow anything anywhere, and blend however you want as long as it has the requisite level of deliciosity. Standards were passé. You needn’t worry about ‘thinking outside the box’, because there was no longer even a box.

Now I am observing a new trend. My colleagues here at Halter Ranch are eager for more wine education and are clamoring for more wine tastings. They especially love comparative tastings where we taste wines with similar varietal make ups from different regions of the world. We are discussing wines in terms of ‘traditional’ and “international” styles. They are raising questions about weight and texture and alcohol levels. They are more and more interested in tasting wines from outside of Paso Robles and California. I am sensing a growing interest in context. And as the General Manager here at Halter Ranch, this trend excites me. In the next couple of blog posts I am going to share with you some of these discussions we are having here at Halter Ranch.

Taste

 

Halter Ranch Vineyard

 

One of the most common questions we get when pouring for patrons in the tasting room is:  “So which one is your favorite?” or “What would be your pick from this list?” or any number of variations on the core theme: “What is your personal preference among these wines?”  (more…)


Blending Trials with the HRV Staff

Halter Ranch Vineyard

2012 Blending Trials

 

As our red wines make their way through the 9 to 18 month process of ageing in barrel, Kevin periodically pulls sample blends and has the staff taste them to assist in isolating the combinations that best exhibit the qualities of fruit, acid, tannin, and overall balance we seek in wines from Halter Ranch.  This past Saturday, the tasting room staff was treated to trials of potential blends for the 2012 yet to be named Reserve Syrah and 2012 Ancestor.  Each of 3 separate trial lots were tasted against their 2011 counterparts (11 Block 22 Syrah and 11 Ancestor) for a total of 8 tastings.  Final decisions for the blends are six months out but I have included here a few random samples of employee notes from the two trials.  The identities of staff members have been stricken from this particular record intentionally.  However, if you know us and think you can guess whose notes are whose, do please have at it in the comments below.

Ancestor Blend A – Blueberries and woodchips…lush…very grippy tannins

Syrah Blend C – Toasty vanilla-y oak.  Smooth round mouth.  Lingering finish.

Ancestor Blend B – More oak [than the other two samples in this trial] less distinct fruit; oak on the finish

Syrah Blend C – A little bit spicy and acidic on the finish; prickles the tongue; raspberry on the nose

Ancestor Blend C – The most fruity aroma;  lingers on the palate; velvety

Syrah Blend A – Great nose; lighter fruit; tannin; light finish

Ancestor Blend C – This lot didn’t leave my mouth feeling as chalky as the others

Syrah Blend C – Seemed pleasantly full but left behind too much of a drying sensation

Ancestor Blend C – Full on the palate with distinctly dark fruit.  The nose opens nicely with time

Syrah Blend C – Dark fruit with distinct tannin in comparison to A and B.  This would be my pick.

Syrah Blend C – Nascar on the nose, thick on the palate, grit on the teeth, bitey on the finish

Ancestor Blend B – Pretty girl [stated with enthusiastic tone].  Fruit is deep and floral on the nose. Rubenesque. [this means plump or rounded in a pleasing or attractive way according to Merriam-Webster Online] Rich and curvy.  A finish that keeps on giving.  Hey girl, hey

Kevin will make some adjustments based on staff consensus and his own preferences before we revisit these blends closer to bottling in July.  Check back next week for 2013 Pink updates and have a smashing time in the mean!

 

Blending Trials - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Sun On The Patio

 

 


Wine Resolutions for 2014

 

Resolutions - Halter Ranch Vineyard

A Hearth-y Happy New Year!

 

Here published are 14 wine resolutions for 2014.  Sourced from the diabolically wine-centric brains of our very own staff.

1. We resolve not to judge a wine by its alcohol content or any other attribute prior to actually trying it.

2. We resolve to refrain from purchasing half bottles as they are too tempting to drink all by oneself.

3. We resolve to drink more dry Rose.

4. We resolve to refrain from purchasing ‘critter label’ wines purely based on the fact that critters are cute, and instead to fulfill our critter cuteness needs here and here.

5. We resolve not to acquiesce to the notion that a wine is better because it is uniformly composed of a single variety (i.e. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon).

6. We resolve to keep our minds and palates open to new and wondrous tastes despite not being certain whether we will like them or not.

7. We resolve not to influence our wine tasting fellows with normative terminology when they are in the midst of a fresh tasting experience.

8. We resolve to drink more Champagne and less soda.

9. We resolve to sip and fully experience, rather than simply drink.

10. We resolve to drink wine with food.  After all, nutrients are best absorbed when liquids and solids are consumed in concert.

11. We resolve to remember that while wine is how we make our living, we need not approach it as if it is work.

12. We resolve to remember to drink what we like and not feel guilty about it.

13. We resolve to continue finding new ways to share our fascinations and foster fascination in others.

14. We resolve to incite joy by keeping glasses, both real and proverbial, topped off and raised high.

Check back next Wednesday for more wildlife photos and vineyard updates with Lucas. If you feel so inclined, do share your wine resolutions for 2014 in the comments below. We would love to read them. Cheers and happy nearly new year to all!

 

Resolutions - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Huzzah!

 


Teaming Up for 2013 Staff Wines

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Kim, Katie, Molly, Sarah

Making Wine With the HRV Staff

 

Those who have been watching the blog over the past 8 months may remember the exciting developments in our staff winemaking project.  What follows is an update on each team and their wines. (more…)

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