In Pursuit of Soulful Wines
As you all noticed, we finally updated our online ordering system and entered the 21st century of technology. Gone are the days of manually processing each and every order! Just the other day I recalled my very first newsletter that I wrote to some of you while sitting in a coffee shop in Santa Maria. I would often spend several hours there drinking coffee, using their free Wi-Fi, and maxing out on refills at 25 cents per cup because I couldn’t afford my own Internet in my rented bedroom - struggling to type with two fingers while wired on caffeine. Thankfully, those days are over. I still type using two fingers, however, I can now afford a good computer and functioning Internet connection. I was also able to employ a couple of smart young people who spent the last couple months implementing the new ordering system that you are about to use. I am sure that it will improve our ordering process and ability to communicate. If you encounter any issues during this transition, our Brand Manager, Cynthia Segovia is happy and ready to assist you. We have also started our Instagram page to connect with you on social media and share a few brief posts about our winery, vineyards, and various events. Please do follow Paul Lato Wines on Instagram if you aren’t already one of our followers.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in the wine aisle at the local supermarket, surveying the hundreds of colorful bottles of both American and international wines. For a moment, I felt helpless standing there gazing at the richly stacked shelves. However, I realized very soon that while the packaging and perhaps even the contents themselves may be distinct (if slightly), they all shared the DNA of the big brand establishment - highly commercial and mass-produced with the singular goal of economic profit. Halfway through my sommelier career, I remember being introduced to a very special winemaker and the term “wine with soul,” which continues to resonate with me to this day. Making such wines has been my guiding principle since my first day as a winemaker. While this classification of fine wine comprises only a small percentage of all wine made in the world, I believe that this is the only category of wine that people like yourselves are interested in acquiring, and the only caliber of wine that I care to make.
During my life’s journey, I have had the opportunity and privilege to encounter several true artisans, sometimes in fields that one might not expect or who have not traditionally been considered to be artists. I recall working alongside Spanish and Portuguese bricklayers who demonstrated tremendous passion, care, and pride for their work. A chance encounter with an Italian tailor and shoemaker gave me true inspiration and understanding of what it means to make something by hand with full engagement and pride. Even though these trades are not generally considered fine or classical art per se, I have witnessed first-hand and been inspired by these fine artisans' dedication to their craft and true love for their chosen profession - which often manifests with a sparkle in their eye and creations of the highest quality.
The previous 2015 vintage that most of you have in your cellar (and is now nearly entirely sold out) received tremendous reviews from Lisa Perrotti-Brown (Wine Advocate), Antonio Galloni (Vinous), Jeb Dunnuck, and Rusty Gaffney (Prince of Pinot). We just received an email from Decanter Magazine that our 2015 “Atticus” will be featured in their upcoming June issue as an outstanding American Pinot Noir. This also coincides with our recent entry into the UK last year; it has been a very exciting and successful start in this major market. You can now find Paul Lato Wines at both Michelin-starred and the trendiest restaurants in London, including The Fat Duck (three Michelin stars).
In this modern age of technology, global commerce, and its emphasis on speed, efficiency, and economies of scale, we small family winemakers often face tough decisions and circumstances both in the vineyard and cellar. Even more difficult and precarious is the squeeze of the global distribution system that is dominated by large conglomerates. One way or the other, the artisanal and truly passionate craft of winemaking by hand is becoming more difficult than ever. Despite quite drastic weather changes and the general lack of water in our region, we are committed to continuing to produce only the highest quality wines.
I am pleased to offer you our 2016 vintage of beautiful and handmade Pinot Noirs. They all come from special, family-owned vineyards on the Central Coast. I make all my wines with soul, passion, and joy that I hope you can taste in each and every sip - they undoubtedly have little in common with those "alcoholic beverages" that I encountered at the local supermarket. I encourage you to taste all the wines in this beautiful 2016 vintage, and add them to your cellar. I greatly appreciate your continued support, without which we could not exist.
Vintage Note: 2016 was an excellent vintage for all of us in Santa Barbara, especially for Paul Lato Wines. We welcomed February rain to prepare the vines for a fruitful growing season. We experienced early bud break and ideal weather during set, followed by a warmer than usual growing season. We were on pace for an early harvest before an especially cool August slowed down the vines. Cool, even ripening with no heat spikes prevailed as we harvested our blocks in perfect balance. This vintage produced expressive Pinot Noirs of power, structure, and grace. The wines possess medium plus body and fine acidity, and will be enjoyable relatively early while having substantial aging potential. Please enjoy!
Santa Maria Valley
With its rather humble appearance of row crops and occasional dusty fields, Santa Maria Valley is unquestionably one of the best places in the New World to grow cool climate Pinot Noir. In its 40 or so years of vine growing, it has established its signature style of producing highly fragrant and aromatic Pinot Noir of medium body and fine complexity, accessible in their youth while providing pleasure as they develop and age for 10-12 years. I am often reminded of the beautiful wines of Chambolle-Musigny.
2016 "Duende" Gold Coast Vineyard
This may very well by my finest vintage of Duende to date. Delicate, medium red color and fantastic perfume. Stewed strawberry and raspberry notes with very pleasant red fruit nuances from the nearly 30 year old vines at Gold Coast Vineyard. Silky texture on the tongue from the intermingling of the fruit with the finest new French oak - refreshing acidity and light tannins on the finish. Duende is a perennial favorite of many of my longest customers.
2016 "Prospect" Sierra Madre Vineyard
We source the best of the best grapes from Sierra Madre, the prime property in the middle of the valley; Sierra Madre and Pisoni are the only two vineyards that I make both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Medium dark color, pretty and translucent with a nose of fresh strawberry and bing cherry. It has well defined mineral structure and finishes zesty and delicious.
2016 "Suerte" Solomon Hills Vineyard
Solomon Hills is the most westerly vineyard in the appellation, making it the coolest due to its proximity to the ocean. Suerte is a favorite of some of my most loyal supporters, including Thomas Keller and Wolfgang Puck. Dark color with a shiny hue. Pronounced brooding nose with darker fruit nuances of blueberry pie and cherry with a hint of clove and light smoke. On the body, the wine is well defined possessing zesty flavors with balanced structure and bright acidity. While the tannins are quite firm on the finish, the wine delivers plenty of pleasure and intensity. Classic Santa Maria Pinot at its best. Decant one half hour prior to service.
Sta. Rita Hills
Over the last 25 years, Sta. Rita Hills has established itself as one of the finest coastal appellations in America, producing truly world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The appellation's climate and terrain is more diversified than Santa Maria Valley, and I believe may become sub-appellations in the future. In general, one can expect wines of fine structure with darker color and higher extraction. We carefully choose vineyards that provide both finesse on the nose and fine structure on the palate. These wines have fine aging potential for 15+ years, whose complexities reveal themselves after 5 years in the bottle.
2016 "Atticus" John Sebastiano Vineyard
John Sebastiano is my most eastern vineyard in the appellation with a stunning south facing hillside topography. Combined with its relatively windy locale, this vineyard produces wines of high concentration. This wine has pronounced notes of raspberry and tart blueberry. It has smooth texture, fine structure, and a zesty long finish with a hint of spice. Needs three years in the bottle but will last 12+ years. Atticus has been an international favorite from its very first vintage.
2016 "The Contender" Drum Canyon Vineyard
Our parcel at Drum Canyon Vineyard is on a severely steep hillside graced with beautiful southern exposure. Attractive, dark red. Boysenberry and cassis notes. Full of energy, wired with fine tannin and a long spicy finish. Made from two Burgundy suitcase clones, and would easily fit as a ringer wine in a Burgundy tasting. Decant one hour prior to service.
2016 "Seabiscuit" Zotovich Vineyard
Located toward the center of Highway 246 on a gentle, even slope with northern exposure, Zotovich Vineyard has proven capable of making extraordinary wine with great aromatics and fine structure. Dark pleasant red, with rose, bing cherry, raspberry cake, and a hint of wood aromatics. It is mid-bodied, zesty and smooth on the texture with a bit of spice on the finish. The tannins are gentle but persistent and will allow this wine to age gracefully with time and will be ready to drink within a couple of years.
Santa Lucia Highlands
Located in the windswept Monterey region, the Santa Lucia Highlands is a gem in the making. We currently focus on Pisoni Vineyard, believing it is one of the best vineyard sites outside of Burgundy. Wines from this vineyard possess power and grace, and please the palate in its youth with its exuberance while also aging gracefully over many years to become a fully complex and refined wine.
2016 "Lancelot" Pisoni Vineyard
This is another special vintage from Pisoni Vineyard. Vibrant and deep, dark cherry color. Booming aromatics out of the glass, with blueberry pie-like notes. Power and grace in the mouth with plenty of fruit, oak, and vanilla nuances that blend seamlessly. Touch of spice and abundance of minerality. Long finish, very impressive now and full of aging potential and evolution in the bottle. Our Grand Cru from Santa Lucia Highlands.
Orders will begin shipping on April 2, 2018 (weather permitting). Note that an adult 21 and over must be available to sign for the wine upon delivery. Please contact Cynthia Segovia at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805.878.9141 for assistance in placing your order.
Stay tuned for our release of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rose' next month.