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Wine of the Day

Four from Falcone Family Vineyards

After many years of making wine together and separately at prominent wineries, Helen and John Falcone launched their own project, Falcone Family Vineyards, in 2002. Their eight-acre vineyard, about seven miles east of Templeton, features Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. That area is on the eastern edge of the Templeton Gap which funnels cool ocean air across the southern Paso Robles AVA and leads to some of the region’s best wines. At “Falcone Corner” there’s plenty of warmth and sun for ripening red Rhone and Bordeaux varieties, but the low-vigor rootstock the Falcones chose ensures concentrated, structured wine.

The winemaking is a husband-wife collaboration, but Helen also handles all the sales and marketing, since John is more than full-time at Gainey Vineyards in Santa Ynez as general manager and director of winemaking. Prior to joining Gainey, John, and Helen, worked for more than a decade at Rusack Vineyards in Ballard Canyon. Before that, John had been winemaker at Atlas Peak Vineyards and Helen was assistant winemaker at Chimney Rock, both in Napa Valley.

Helen and John Falcone

The 2012 Falcone Family Vineyards Chardonnay opens with attractive aromas of wild flowers and a bin of mixed mixed apples. The lightly creamy palate has a pleasing, silky mouthfeel with tangy acidity that builds into the finish. Pretty, soft-voiced flavors of butter-poached apple, baking spice and tart pear gently command your attention. Drink now through 2016. Recommended+

2012 Falcone Family Vineyards Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley
Rating: Recommended+

Drink: now through 2016
Release Date: September 1, 2013

Closure: Cork
Production: 315 cases
Retail Price: $30.00

Winemaker: John and Helen Falcone
Blend: 100% Chardonnay, clone 15

Origin: Sierra Madre Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley
Aging: 9 months in French oak, 21% new
Alcohol: 14.2%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Not recommended

Temperature: 52º - 58º F

Food Pairing: Squash blossom risotto


The 2011 Falcone Family Vineyards Syrah is deep but translucent ruby in the glass and brims with aromas of dark plum, licorice, white pepper, dark chocolate and black cherry. It's loaded with flavor in the mouth, rich and full-bodied but framed by acidity and lightly chalky tannins. Flavors include licorice, briary blackberry, dark spice and garrigue. Alcohol is well-balanced and the finish lingering. Drink now through 2021. Highly Recommended

2011 Falcone Family Vineyards Syrah, Paso Robles
Rating: Highly Recommended

Drink: now through 2021
Release Date: October 1, 2013

Closure: Cork
Production: 356 cases
Retail Price: $30.00

Winemaker: John and Helen Falcone
Blend: 94% Syrah, 6% Petite Sirah

Origin: Syrah, Falcone Family Vineyard; Petite Sirah, Viña Robles - all Paso Robles
Aging: 14 months in French oak, 37% new
Alcohol: 14.5%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Decant or let breathe in glass

Temperature: 58º - 64º F

Food Pairing: Braised short ribs


The 2010 Falcone Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Mia’s Vineyard, Paso Robles is deeply colored and teems with aromas of rich, ripe black currant, black spices, tobacco and dark chocolate. The palate is nearly full-bodied and opens with creaminess that gradually gives way to tannins of fine powder and chalk. Intense flavors of cherry, black currant, dark spice and oak marry with the tannins, making each sip succulent, mouth-coasting and long-lasting. Drink now through 2023. Highly Recommended

2010 Falcone Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Mia's Vineyard, Paso Robles
Rating: Highly Recommended

Drink: now through 2021
Release Date: July 1, 2013

Closure: Cork
Production: 69 cases
Retail Price: $50.00

Winemaker: John and Helen Falcone
Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Origin: A unique of Falcone Family Vineyard, Paso Robles
Aging: 30 months in French oak, 75% new
Alcohol: 14.2%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Decant or let breathe in glass

Temperature: 58º - 64º F

Food Pairing: Baby back ribs with a savory dry rub


The Falcone Family Vineyards Annate IV is a multi-vintage, multi-variety blend. It includes Syrah from 2010 and 2011, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah from 2010, plus a bit of the Annate III which was itself a blend of vintages and varieties. It’s dark ruby in the glass with black raspberry, red cherry liqueur and spicy dried tobacco on the nose. The palate is concentrated and filled with tangy, spicy red cherry and black berry fruit. It’s very nearly full-bodied in the mouth and that creaminess coupled with plenty of fine, powdery and chalky tannins carry the flavors on and on. This is an engaging wine now but will be even better with a few years in the cellar. Drink 2017 through 2023. Highly Recommended+

Falcone Family Vineyards Annate IV, Paso Robles
Rating: Highly Recommended+

Drink: 2017 through 2023
Release Date: October 15, 2012

Closure: Cork
Production: 49 cases
Retail Price: $65.00

Winemaker: John and Helen Falcone
Blend: 49% 2010 Syrah, 37% 2010 Petite Sirah, 8% 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% 2011 Sirah and 1% Annate III

Origin: Syrah & Cabernet Sauvignon, Falcone Family Vineyard; Petite Sirah, Huer Huero (Viña Robles) - all Paso Robles
Aging: 22 months in French oak, 60% new
Alcohol: 14.6%

Service Recommendations

Decanting: Decant 30+ minutes

Temperature: 58º - 64º F

Food Pairing: Wood-fired filet mignon with forest mushrooms

Interpreting my wine ratings


Disclosures: The FTC has tightened its guidelines with respect to online ads, reviews, blogs, etc. in response to people who are passing paid ads off as personal recommendations or who accept samples of expensive hard goods in exchange for reviews. My lengthy disclosure here is meant to address those guidelines.

The review above reflects my personal experience with the product. It is not a paid ad, nor do I accept ads or compensation for reviews from wine producers. Reviews may cover products that I have purchased, received as samples, or tried under other circumstances I consider to be good tasting conditions. Receiving a product as a sample does not obligate me to review it positively (or at all) and I do not consider samples to be compensation or “free wine.” I have purchased plenty of wine over the years and have more of that than I can drink. Samples are opened for review purposes, not added to my personal cellar or taken to restaurants.

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This article is original to Copyright 2014 NorCal Wine. Photo courtesy of Falcone Family Vineyards. All rights reserved.