A vertical taste through Halter Ranch’s Cabernets

Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Vertical Tasting

During the month of August our Wine Club members are offered a special complimentary Cabernet Sauvignon vertical tasting in our Member Lounge. The vertical allows members to sample three very different wines from Halter Ranch’s winemaking history.

More than a third of all vines planted in Paso Robles are Cabernet Sauvignon and our vineyard mirrors that statistic with 104 of our 281 acres of vines planted with Cabernet Sauvignon. It is an integral part of what we do; from our by-the-glass Synthesis, to our mighty Ancestor Reserve, the rich forward fruit, color and tannin structure of Cabernet Sauvignon paired with its deep back palate wow us every year.

In order to show off this grape we love, we have pulled from our library the 2008, 2010 and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon vintages. The 2008 vintage made by our previous Winemaker Bill Sheffer, the 2010 was begun by Bill and finished by current Halter Ranch Winemaker Kevin Sass, and the 2012 which is Kevin’s wine from start to finish. The three Cabernet’s are very different, due to winemaking style, age, fruit and harvest conditions.

A few notes about the vintages, in 2008 yields were down in Cabernet Sauvignon and related varietals due to an early Spring frost, causing small cluster sets and some shatter. The low yields however did produce some great wine. In 2010 Paso Robles experienced a winter with above average rainfall after three years of drought. Growers had to manage fruit/vine ratio and mildew pressure during the cooler year. In 2012 there were three weeks of extreme heat in late August and early September, bringing harvest forward by almost two full weeks. The fruit quality was high with round and robust flavors.


2008 Cabernet Sauvignon – 15.1% Alcohol

81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 5% Malbec, 3% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc

Fermentation: Destemmed and fermented in closed-top fermenters, with punch-downs or pump-overs twice daily for 21 days.

Aging: Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 30% of which are new.

Lounge Tasting Note

Though it is blended with all five ‘Noble Bordeaux’ grapes, this wine is truly a classic ‘Paso Cab’ it’s huge fruit, bold tannins, and bright acidity can stand up to the bloodiest of steaks. Winemaker Bill Sheffer sought to highlight the beautiful back palate of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, resulting in deep flavors of sage, earth, and chaparral.

Winemakers Tasting Note

Blended with traditional Bordeaux varieties our Cabernet Sauvignon is dark ruby in color and deeply concentrated with aromas of blackcurrant and blackberry, interwoven with earth, sage, and spice. Big, ripe and juicy on the palate, its mouth-filling blackcurrant and dark plum flavors are balanced by round, supple tannins that guide the wine through a long, rich and smooth finish. Drink now or in the next two years, with grilled steak and lamb, prime rib, venison stew and other hearty meat dishes.


2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – 15% Alcohol

77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Malbec, 11% Merlot

Fermentation: Destemmed and fermented in closed-top fermentors, with punch-downs and pump-overs twice daily for 20 days.

Aging: Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 35% of which were new.

Lounge Tasting Note

Our last to feature the softening influence of Merlot, this wine was made as a collaboration between winemakers. Bill’s bolder, age-worthy style was quieted by Kevin’s delicate and fruit driven ethos. The result is an elegantly structured wine with soft integrated tannins and a smooth, rich finish.

Winemakers Tasting Note

This vintage is crimson red with a light purple hue. Deeply concentrated, this wine displays aromas of blackberry brambles, black currant, fig and a touch of cocoa. The attack on the palate is driven by an explosion of red and black fruit, framed by elegant structure. Soft integrated tannins guide this beautiful wine through a smooth, rich finish. Delicious now with grilled steak and lamb, prime rib, venison stew and other hearty meat dishes, it will age beautifully for another two to five years.


2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – 14.5% Alcohol

79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot

Fermentation: Destemmed and fermented in closed top fermentors, with open pump-overs two to three times daily for an average of 10 days.

Aging: Aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 40% of which were new.

Lounge Tasting Note

After the frost and challenging nature of the 2011 vintage, 2012 was Kevin Sass’ first great growing season with Halter Ranch. The hot Summer and Fall led to a beautifully expressive nose of dark red fruit matched by a silky, luxuriant mid-palate and delicately integrated tannins.

Winemakers Tasting Note

The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon possesses a classic profile with aromas of dark red fruits. Bright and rich on the palate, this wine is brimming with flavors of red currants and cassis and has an underlying minerality. A strong mid-palate and well integrated tannins lead to a long seamless finish. Delicious now, this wine will continue to develop for years to come. Pair with grilled steak, lamb and Italian cuisine.


The three Cabernet Sauvignon’s are available for purchase at $45 per bottle or $36 for Wine Club members and their guests. Wines are available as a three pack for an additional 10% off, at $94.50.

Reservations

Due to limited seating in the Wine Club Member Lounge, reservations are strongly suggested. All club members receive complimentary wine tasting with up to four guests. Larger groups are required to make a reservation.

Make a Reservation:

Email: memberlounge@halterranch.com

Weekdays Call: 805-226-9455

Weekends Call: 805-591-3634


The Collective

Sunset

 

As we have been alluding to on the blog over the past few months, the Paso Robles Cab Collective will be holding a series of events focused on Cabernet Sauvignon this coming weekend (April 24, 25, and 26).  You may recall a previous post featuring our 2011 Cabernet and a discussion as to why Paso Robles is uniquely suited to producing Cabernet Sauvignons of distinction.

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is in a particularly delicious phase at the moment so we’ve decided to included some tasting notes and pairing recommendations here. (more…)


The Cab Collective and Rain

Collective - Halter Ranch Vineyard

 

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, Paso Robles is uniquely suited to growing and ripening Cabernet Sauvignon.  Additionally, while Cabernet is the most planted variety in the Paso Robles AVA, it is currently Paso Rhone varieties (such as Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre) that receive most of the attention in the critical scene and from  periodicals.  In response to this trend a group of Paso wineries who produce quality Cabernet Sauvignon have pooled resources to bring more attention to this noble variety.

The Cab Collective will be holding a Gala event at River Oaks Hot Springs on April 26, 2014.  Check the website here for details.  Additionally, individual wineries will be offering dinners and presentations over the course of the weekend.  Keep an eye on our events page for details about a Cabernet Blending and Barrel Symposium to be hosted by Kevin here in our wine club lounge.

Paso is uniquely suited for late ripening varieties such as Cabernet given its consistently hot and long summer in concert with proximity to the sea and the lateral arrangement of hillsides creating a nightly cooling effect from the coast.  High daily temperature with a 40 degree cooling swing overnight allows us to take Cabernet to a high degree of ripeness while maintaining acidity and tannin that give it stability in the cellar.

In other news, we received just under 6 inches of rain over the past 10 days, bringing us to 8 inches for the year overall.  While this is still far behind the average for this point in the season, we are in a distinctly more comfortable position than we were just two weeks ago.  Keep up those rain dances!  They seem to be helping ‘ )

Next week we will be presenting a fresh new video to celebrate the release of our delicious 2013 Rose.  Keep an eye on our YouTube feed, facebook page, Google+, and Twitter so you don’t miss out and if you enjoy the video, don’t forget to click those like buttons and share it with your friends.  Until next week, happy rainfall and cheers!

 

Collective - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Pouring Rain


A Walk Through the Caves with our Winemaker

 

Halter Ranch Vineyard

In the Caves

 

It has been an eventful week in westside Paso Robles:

This past Wednesday our accountant Julie Whitmore had the privilege of setting the final stone in the rock facing around our eastern cave entrance.

 

Caves - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Julie places the final stone

 

We achieved a full inch of rain with Superbowl Sunday’s storm and now we only need about 25 more to reach normal rainful.  Keep up those dances and downpour wishes for us!  According to local weather guru John Lindsey, our next opportunity for some serious rainfall is late next week.

Given how busy our schedules are, it is not often that I get to tour the caves and taste through upcoming vintages with Kevin. As such, when the opportunity presents itself I fall deep into ‘sponge-mode,’ absorbing as much information as possible to share in the tasting room and here on the blog.  Much of the discussion on this latest venture into the caves centered around the inherent variability throughout winemaking and the ways we account for that variability from vintage to vintage.  As the process begins in the vineyard each spring, every condition from the angle of sunlight, to the number of leaves on the vine, to the specific conditions of the ecosystem in and among the vines affects the final wine.  The more time I spend in the industry the more I become hyper-conscious of the vast potential for variation wine to wine and vintage to vintage.  Kevin opened by stating that vintage variation in the vineyard, coupled with experimentation in the type of oak and other fermentation vessels we use, accounts for the particular style, or more accurately, styleof wine we produce each year.

 

Caves - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Blurry Thieving

 

As I accompanied Kevin and two industry guests through the caves and listened to him articulate the fact that barrels also have a massive potential to impact the wine and huge variance themselves between forest of origin, cooper (who made them), their size, the thickness of the staves, and their toast level. Potential for variation encourages innovation both with a mind toward keeping a degree of consistency in style from year to year and in making slight changes toward continued honing and improvement of the wine we produce.  I suppose what I’m saying is that the more time I spend in the industry, seeing different choices and the effects of small details in the wine, the more I appreciate a wider variety of wine, and the more I want to share that variety with others.  Kevin states openly that a huge advantage of our operation and the philosophy behind it is the fact that we have the resources and the desire to make and wide variety of wines and to present them to our customers.  I find myself thinking that this honest truth, this innovative mindset, is a major part of what makes Halter Ranch and our wines so exciting.  In that spirit, having tasted a few of our upcoming vintages, I absolutely cannot wait to begin sharing them as it seems that with each year the overall message becomes a little more deliciously clear.

As I was typing this I received a phone call from Lucas out in the vineyard informing me that a pair of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were gracing the Halter Ranch Pond.  Fifteen minutes after the phone call, I caught these quick shots:

 

Caves - Halter Ranch Vineyard

At a Glance

 

As always, thank you for reading and check back next week for a look at a new and unique piece in the vineyard.  Cheers til then!

 

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Eagle In Flight


Thanks and Giving

IMG_4964

 

In honor of this deeply foodie giving thanks type  week, we present a post that has been in the works for some time.  To assist in carrying us through the calm before Friday’s storm, the tasting room will be cooking up a spicy (and slightly sheepish) pleasure for lunch.  It has come to our collective attention over the past few months that a majority of our retail staff have a weakness for dishes doused in Buffalo Sauce.

With this knowledge teeming beneath surface consciousness, we have decided to cook up some Buffalo Burgers for our staff lunch today.  We’ll keep you posted as we sip our wines, and let you know which among them pairs most delectably with this only slightly guilty pre-giving pleasure.

After careful tasting and analysis the Tasting Room crew has concluded that Côtes de Paso Blanc is the best pairing for a Buffalo Style Burger with Stilton, Grilled Onions, and Kettle Chips on the side.  The relatively low alcohol and medium body of the CDPB interact well with the smoke and spiciness of the burger while allowing the tropical notes from our flagship white to truly shine.

 

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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…)


Ancestor Dinner 2013

Halter Ranch Vineyard

2011 Ancestor Estate Reserve

 

Each October we choose one evening to pause harvest and dress up the old Smith family barn for the Ancestor Release Dinner.  This past Saturday marked the presentation of the 2011 vintage with a delectible coursed meal provided by Lido.  We have made the Ancestor Estate Reserve each year since 2003 and it typically is composed of our most concentrated and expressive red lots.  The 2011 blend is 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec.  It spent 14 months in French Oak.  60% of the barrels were new and 40% had been used to age wine at least once previously.

As a vintage, 2011 is particularly exciting as it marks the first year we made wine in our new gravity fed winery with Kevin at the helm.  Due to cool weather throughout summer 2011, we made only 324 cases of this absolutely delicious wine.  As a result, it is available only to Wine Club Members at this time.

What follows is a photographic journey through the appetizers, courses, and wine at this year’s Ancestor Dinner.

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Night Picking – A Journal in Photos

Picking - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Cool Grapes

 

This is just a taste of the awesome activities we partake in late at night during harvest season.  Welcome to the latest update on our staff vineyard project.  The three teams–New Kids on Block 3, Oscar’s Grouches, 21 and Holding–have all successfully harvested their respective vineyard blocks as of this morning. (more…)


Fermenting in Barrel

 

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Arnaud guides Block 8 Syrah berries into new French oak.

 

Since the 2011 vintage a portion of Syrah and Grenache have been sorted and crushed directly into French Oak barrels, some new (which means freshly toasted and constructed from the cooper, as yet untouched by wine), some neutral (neutral means that the barrel has had wine in it over the course of at least one year–this is our definition, some winemakers distinguish between barrels that have been used just once and those that have been used 2 or more times).  These special Rhone lots go through both primary (yeast eating sugar to create alcohol) and secondary (acetobacter eat malic acid-the variety of acid that comes from fruit-to create lactic acid-the type of acid associated with dairy, red wine, and some white wines) fermentation in barrel. (more…)


Comparing Cabernet Despite the Splinters

 

Cabernet - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Cabernet and Light

 

 

Last week the production crew set aside some time to blind taste through a group of prominent Cabernet Sauvignons and Cabernet based blends.  Among the eight wines were many famous, critically acclaimed, and highly sought after offerings from Napa Valley.  Our 2010 Ancestor was thrown in the mix for comparison.  The task for each taster was to select her or his favorite wine from the bunch while also noting any wines that seemed to differ significantly from the rest of the group.  The difficulty in tasting Cabernet Sauvignon is that it tends to be noticeably tannic, fairly acidic, and depending on the region, heavily oaked.  The result is a distinctly weighty and mouth stripping experience.  The crew persevered however, and the consensus among the staff was quite interesting.  We found that though Ancestor is from an entirely different region than the rest of the offerings, it was not selected as among the outliers.  Additionally, while it fit well with the rest of the line up in body and flavor profile, it is less than half of the retail cost of most of the other wines tasted.  (more…)

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