Andrew Murray and his wines part 2

In a post of a few days ago I blogged about Andrew Murray Vineyards and 2 of his Syrahs that I tasted. In this post I will blog about 3 blends I and some wine enthusiasts tasted from Andrew.

2010 RGB Camp 4 Vineyard- The only white wine we tasted, this 50/50 blend of Rousanne and Grenache Blanc comes from Santa Ynez Valley. Fermented together in stainless steel and then put into neutral French oak until its time to bottle. It has melon and pear aromas on the nose & sweet vanilla and honeysuckle on the palate. It’s dry wine and has good acidity, a medium body and medium finish. Only 200 cases were made of this white Chateauneuf du Pape like wine and retails for about $25.

2008 Esperance(“Hope” in French) from the Central Coast is a blend of 60% Greanche Noir from Paso Robles, 25% Syrah from Santa Ynez Valley and 15% Mourvedre from Paso Robles. Big on the nose and the palate, this wine uses a lot of new French oak and grapes from both warm and cool climates. Buttery and with nice tannins, it’s well balanced and has a nice, long finish. It tastes great and has the best finish of the 5 wines tasted. 400 cases were produced and is a steal at $30.

2009 Syrah Watch Hill Vineyard from Santa Ynez Valley is blended with 5% Viognier. Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, half which were new this is a full bodied wine with a smoky, bacon nose. With good raspberry fruit this wine has a shorter finish. Several tasters said “WOW” upon their 1st taste. Only 212 cases made and should retail for about $36.

So after tasting 5 wines from Andrew Murray Vineyards my fellow wine drinkers agree that the accolades from Robert Parker and others are worthy. If you find Andrews wines on your wine stores shelf or a restaurant wine list, do yourself a favor a give these limited production wines a try and see why they drink like you should be spending a lot more money than you actually will. Cheers!

Andrew Murray and his wines

Andrew Murray fell in love with wine while in the Rhone Valley of France, learned to make wine in Australia and studied viticulture and enology at UC Davis before starting his own winery in Santa Ynez. Making only Rhone varieties, Andrew sources grapes from vineyards up and down California’s Central Coast, a region known for Syrah, Grenache and other Rhone varieties because of it’s Mediterranean type climate. Many of the grapes are sourced from steep, hillside vineyards. Andrew has garnered accolades from Robert Parker, Food and Wine Magazine and many others for not only his wine making but for his passion and dedication. In addition to the accolades, Andrew also garnered attention on the big screen when his wines were featured in the hit film “Sideways”. Andrews wines are big in flavor and alcohol, often going above 15%, and he’s not afraid to say it. He feels that to be commercially viable wines they need to be higher in alcohol because lower alcohol wines seem to get lost after higher alcohol wines. When not making his own wines, Andrew makes wines for Oak Savanna Vineyards where he can make some other wines that are not Rhone inspired. http://www.andrewmurrayvineyards.com/

I recently sat down with a group of wine enthusiasts to taste 5 of Andrews recent releases. In this post I will give our thoughts on the 2 Syrahs and in another post I will share what we thought on the 3 of the blends tasted.

2008 Tous les Jours Syrah- The name translates to “everyday” and could be drank that way. Aged for 11 months in new and used French oak barriques after the grapes were fermented in both open and closed top tanks. Sourcing grapes from vineyards in Paso Robles and Santa Ynez, this Central Coast bottling had aromas of red bell peppers and tobacco on the nose and was soft on the palate and had a long finish. Drinkable now it should get better with a couple years of aging. This wines was considered very good by the panel. 2,500 cases were produced of this wine and should retail for about $20.

2008 Terra Bella Vineyard Syrah- Making a mere 240 cases,this Paso Robles bottling comes from a hillside vineyard near Halter Ranch and Tablas Creek. A nice nose, this wine is big on fruit, thick and is a deep colored wine. With raspberries and blueberry nuances, this wine was aged at least 18 months in mostly new French oak barrels. Nice and balanced the group felt this was the best of the 5 wines tasted and a great deal at $36.

06 Rotta Winery Dino Boneso Vineryard Cabernet Franc

With the winery dating back to the 1850s, the Rotta family has owned it since 1908. Grandson of founders, Mike Giubbini has been pulling the winery out of a dormant stage to revive some of the family traditions and replanted vines back in 1990. Planting mostly Zinfandel on their 20 acres of estate vineyards which is also dry farmed, they starting bottling under the Rotta name back in 2002 after years of selling grapes to nearby wineries. Focusing on mostly red wines they also purchase grapes from local vineyards mostly on the Westside of Paso Robles and Templeton area. I’ve been told that the following wine is the only vineyard designate Cabernet Franc from California.

The 06 Dino Boneso Cabernet Franc is light colored garnet to the eye and and pretty on the nose with hints of cherry fruit and spices. Spicy and soft on the palate, its medium tannins linger and are worthy of the many accolades this wine has garnered. Dry on the finish it has a nice mouth feel and is not to overpowering. Limited in production this wine would go well with both grilled and/or roasted meats and wild game. suggested retail should be under $25 for this treat. www.rottawinery.com

Wines of Paso Robles




On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Paradise Valley, Arizona over 30 of Paso Robles 200 wineries were in attendance showcasing their wines as part of the Paso Robles Winery Alliance Tour.

Paso Robles is situated half way between Los Angeles & San Francisco. Although it’s not far from the Pacific Ocean, Paso does not get the cooling oceans breezes that many other coastal areas get, therefore the days are hot & nights cool down. Those conditions make for some big, lush Cabernets Sauvignons, Syrahs & Zinfandels. Though those grapes are the main attraction from Paso Robles you also see Viognier, Chardonnay and other lesser planted varietals, can you say Touriga Nacional or Verdelho just to name a few. Still with a small town atmosphere Paso grower & producers work together, trading secrets, buying & selling of grapes for the over all good of promoting Paso as a wine destination for wine producing and visiting. The most commonly asked question in Paso is “Are you on the West side or East side” as Highway 101 runs right through the town and wineries and vineyards are each side and both sides have micro climates that will affect grape growing.

Many great wines were tasted and even greater people including several owners and wine makers were in attendance to talk about their passion for wine. Some delicious Chardonnay’s & Zins were present from Sextant Wines, Robert Hall was in the house pouring his line up of whites & reds as was brewer turned winemaker & winery owner Sherman Thatcher of his namesake winery. Thatcher Winery makes only 1,800-2,000 cases and does a great job with 2004 being his 1st vintage. Former Wild Horse owner & founder Kenneth Volk was talking up his his newest wines from his latest label(he sold Wild Horse a few years back). Halter Ranch Vineyards who grows grapes for a lot of Paso producers also makes some wine themselves and gets a little crazy with their Cotes de Paso blends using rarely drank Picpoul Blanc & Grenache Blanc in the whites & tiny bits of Counoise & Cinsault in the reds. It was good to re visit the wines of Eberle winery with Marcy & Gary Eberle as it was the 1st time since I spent a birthday at their winery tasting wine & toasting the sunset. One of my final stops was at Justin Winery’s table to taste some recent offerings and wonder if the wines will be the same now that Justin just sold the winery to the Fiji Water Co.

It was great to see some of the newbies of Paso Robles wine scene and some of the veterans who have blazed a trail to put Paso on the wine map. Big & bold wines seem to be the reputation for Paso wines, but I’m glad to report that there is also an elegant side to many of the wines tasted, showing some well balanced wines. Cheers! www.pasowine.com