I'm writing this newsletter as my 17th harvest begins. I cannot believe how fast time has passed since I moved to Santa Barbara County with two suitcases in hand to pursue my dream to make wines of the highest caliber. As I reflect on these past years and all I have learned, I cannot help but think of the unwavering support you have given me. You continue to acquire my wines and introduce them to your loved ones and families, which has helped spread the recognition of my brand.
I have been invited and welcomed into your homes and treated with so much kindness and warm hospitality. Every so often, I am lucky enough to return the courtesy and host you in my winery in Santa Maria for a tasting and lunch, and if time permits, dinner in my home. It is these cherished memories and interactions with all of you that continue to inspire me to make world-class wines.
I have been incredibly lucky to have the enthusiastic support of wine lovers around the world, who encourage me to do things I never thought possible. My dear friend Doug is an incredible example of someone who motivated me to push myself beyond my comfort zone. The world as we know it can be daunting, but Doug encouraged me to introduce my wines to places that weren’t so familiar to me. He said, “Paul, these days London is probably the most exciting city in the world with a culinary scene so fantastic, it would blow you away. We must get you into the best restaurants in London. Your wines deserve it. ” During a visit to the winery last year, Doug made me a promise. If I got my wines to the UK, he would fly there from his home in Atlanta and we would dine at the world-famous restaurant, The Fat Duck, just outside of London. As many of you know, this 3-star Michelin restaurant has been considered to be one of the best in the world for the last 15 years.
As it turned out, earlier this summer my UK distributor was able to organize a special tasting for Paul Lato Wines at The Fat Duck. Their head sommelier immediately fell in love with our wines. He purchased all four wines that were presented to him at the tasting, including our 2015 Bien Nacido Vineyard Syrah, which was added as the “by the glass” selection for their sophisticated tasting menu. True to his word, Doug kept his promise and flew to London this past June just to dine with me at this gastronomical institution.
As we sat down for lunch with his sister and my wife Claudia, a sweeping feeling of elation came over us. A promise that once seemed romanticized and far-fetched was now a reality. Our three-hour lunch that followed was an epic experience and exquisite feast. Every so often Doug and I would laugh and high five each other with great excitement, only to be gently scolded by our lady companions who reminded us that we might be slightly too old to behave like boys playing with their favorite action figures. But this moment just solidified why I choose to make wine every day - to share with dear friends and family like all of you.
Over the next few days, I worked in London with my distributor introducing Paul Lato Wines to some of London’s finest restaurants and hotels – from the traditional and distinguished to the new and trendy. It was a blast and resulted in a generous order of over 200 cases sold! Thank you Doug for your enthusiasm, persistent encouragement, but most of all for believing in me and my quest to share my wines around the world.
With each vintage, we include a brief message on the back label of each bottle. Its meaning usually reflects something that happened to me, the wine, or the world during that year. During the 2016 vintage, the world seemed a confusing place, becoming divided where it was once more whole. For that reason, we chose the phrase “For those who build a bridge” to show praise to those who work relentlessly to bring the world together. Here at Paul Lato Wines, we believe that a main purpose of wine is to be a medium of friendship and love that encourages all of us to become more united.
With this message, I would like to thank all of you once again for being my friends. I invite you to enjoy this stunning 2016 Rhone Selection that we are releasing today for your pleasure and enjoyment. Cheers and high fives all around!
2016 Vintage Notes:
Not only was this a great year for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it was monumental for Rhone style wines. These Syrahs and Grenaches I am releasing to you now have both power and finesse to make them drinkable at all stages of their maturity.
These vintage characteristics show exuberance in the wine’s youth as well as evolving complexity as they age in your cellar. I am so proud of this vintage; these wines are not to be missed.
2016 Lumiere 100% Grenache, Larner Vineyard $75
This bright Larner Vineyard Grenache is fruity yet refined with a touch of earthiness. Fresh blackberries and nuances of baking spices work seamlessly together to create a dry medium plus bodied goddess. This wine is beautiful now but can also be enjoyed as it matures 2-3 years to unveil its full potential.
Cellar potential 5-7 years.
2016 Ora et Labora 100% Grenache, Bien Nacido Vineyard $75
The rich dark colors of cherry only foreshadow what is to come in Ora et Labora. This fine wine shows powerful body with flavors of bramble, cola and ripe red fruits. However, these bold flavors are softened by elegant floral minerality and fresh cedar with a long zesty finish. This wine needs 2-5 years in bottle to truly shine.
Cellar potential 7-10 years.
2016 Cinematique 100% Syrah, Larner Vineyard $85
This passionately aromatic Syrah reminds me of love at first sight. The intensity of color is hypnotic while the aromas of vanilla and gardenia enchant me further. Dark cherry and spicy fruit flavors bring together this incredibly smooth wine. The silky mouthfeel will only get better with age, just like true love.
Cellar potential 10+ years.
2016 il Padrino 97% Syrah, 3% Viognier, Bien Nacido Vineyard $90
This wine is the James Bond of 2016. Refined yet powerful, it’s integrated aromatics of fresh white pepper, rose petals and church incense travel effortlessly through the glass. Like a fine Italian suit covering a chiseled physique, bold flavors of roasted coffee and blueberry make a show stopping appearance on the palate. This wine while youthful and exuberant, will continue to evolve into something even more stunning over the next decade.
Cellar potential 10+ years.
2016 Letters to Europe 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah Blend $100
This wine reminds me of a classic 1960’s Cadillac- polished and smooth, accentuating every curve and corner. The perfumed nose of wild clover honey and ripe cherry is followed by smooth tannins and complexity. Dried fruit, nutmeg and Tennessee blackberry jam create a long succulent finish. It’s a smooth ride along the palate and will continue to enhance its flavors even more over its time in your cellar. A truly picturesque wine.
Cellar potential 10+ years.
*This is the second edition of this blend. It is only made during special vintages when many different conditions come together to make it possible.