Hospice du Rhône 2016–Paso Robles and Santa Barbara Seminar

| April 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

Paso #1a 4-16-16This seminar was moderated by Matt Kettmann of the Wine Enthusiast, and the panelists were Trey Fletcher of Bien Nacido Estate, Jordan Fiorentini of Epoch Estate, Chris Hammel of Hammel Wine Alliance/True Believer, and Russell From of Herman Story Wines.

Let me be direct and say that I think this seminar was not as informative as I think it could have been.  The panelists decided that they would introduce Paso #5a 4-16-16each other (rather than themselves), and each of them put on a short slide show introduction of each other that felt more like a Friars Club roast.  While quite entertaining in parts, a lot of the humor consisted of “in jokes” among the winemakers.  It should be noted, however, that the humor and banter helped remind us that wine isn’t made by spiritless scientific robots in labs; it’s made by real people with real personalities.

The best part of the panel discussion concerned the Bien Nacido vineyard.  As most wine lovers probably know, Bien Nacido is one of the most iconic vineyards in California’s Central Coast.  According to the panel, grape vines were planted there in 1972, and while it is an important source of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, it also has been the source of Syrah grapes for many producers over the years.  Among the wineries that have used Bien Nacido Syrah fruit in the past are Paul Lato, Qupé, Sine Qua Non, and The Ojai Vineyard.  Now Bien Nacido is making its own estate-grown wine.  Bien Nacido is in a cooler section of the Santa Maria Valley, and is classified as Region I.

For more detailed information on the Bien Nacido vineyard, you can go to their website:


Of the wines tasted at this seminar, these were my favorites:

  1. 2013 Herman Story “On the Road” Grenache, Central Coast. This wine is called “On The Road” because Russell From sourced the Grenache fruit for this blend from 8 or 9 different vineyards, thus putting a lot of mileage on his truck.  I thought this wine had an excellent balance of savory qualities (lots of sage/rosemary) and ripe, dark fruits.  It retails for about $44-48.Paso #4a 4-16-16
  1. 2013 Bien Nacido Estate Syrah. More spices (allspice/cake spice) and a nice core of black pepper as well in the nose.  The taste follows the nose, with an overall excellent balance of ripe fruit, acidity, and spiciness.  Per their website, the BN Syrah also has about 3% Viognier.  It doesn’t appear that the 2013 vintage has yet been released, but prior vintages appear to retail in the low- to mid-$50’s.


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