It was a bit disappointing to find that Kevin Sass hadn’t made any of the four sample bottles I tasted. However, the wines were so delicious overall, I can’t wait to see where he takes them.
The wines are rated A to F for quality (C is average) and 1 to 3 for value, with 1 a wine that tastes better than its price, 2 is neutral and 3 is a wine that isn’t up to snuff for the cost. All prices are estimated retail.
Côtes de Paso Blanc 2010
This wine is 48% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc, 16% Marsanne and 16% Picpoul Blanc. It had a nice apple-melon nose with very soft spicy notes. Aromas of peach and white flowers quickly became apparent as well. The wine was round on the palate, but with a nice minerality and acidity that kept it fresh. Price: $24 Rating: B2
A blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Malbec, 17% Petit Verdot and 17% Syrah, this wine impressed my hard-to-impress husband. (He once called a 1982 Haut Brion – a 95 point wine from an excellent vintage – “disappointing.”)
Anyway, it was remarkably smooth on the palate, with notes of black bruit, blackberry, pepper and bramble. As the wine mellowed, a subtle chocolate flavor emerged. Price: $44 Rating: A1
This wine blends 43% Grenache, 42% Syrah and 15% Mourvèdre. Though it was a bit too rounded on the palate for my taste, it still had a nice mouthfeel. The wine was a touch smoky, with notes of violets and minerals and a slightly peppery finish. Price: $14 Rating: B1
True to Halter Ranch style, this wine blends Syrah with 11% Malbec, 5% Mourvèdre and 3% Viognier. The result was an earthy, brambly, slightly tomatoey wine with tannins that made their presence known, but weren’t overpowering. It again had a nice roundness to it.
This was also the only wine I tasted after Sass told me he’d bring more fruitiness to the mid-palate. Perhaps it was the power of suggestion, but I could feel that absence as I drank the wine. Nonetheless, it was a lovely quaff. Price: $29 Rating: B2