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Wine of the Day
- Red Rhone Blend
- Written by Fred Swan
- Thursday, 22 March 2012 20:33
Epoch Wines, a Rhone-variety specialist, makes wine from two estate vineyards in the Paso Robles AVA. Bill and Liz Armstrong founded Epoch in 2004. Their winemaker is Jordan Fiorentini, previously head winemaker at Chalk Hill. Prior to that she worked at Araujo Estate, Antinori in Italy and earned a masters in enology and viticulture from U.C. Davis. Justin Smith (Saxum Vineyards) acts as consulting winemaker and also assisted the Armstrong’s in selecting and planting their vineyards.
The History Behind Epoch Wines' Properties
Epoch’s tasting room is next door to the historic York Mountain Winery. They purchased that winery in 2010, along with its 150 acres of land in the very cool climate York Mountain AVA. It is the oldest winery in the Central Coast, created in 1882 by Andrew York. He called it Ascension Winery. It was renamed York Brothers Winery in 1911 when his sons, Silas and Walter York, took over. Walter continued to operate the winery until 1970 when it was purchased by Max Goldman who changed its name to York Mountain Winery. It was later acquired by Martin & Weyrich. The winery building, made of huge wood beams and hand-formed bricks, was devastated by the 2003 San Simeon earthquake and is currently unusable. The vineyard land has been fallow for some time too. Epoch has plans to restore both beginning late 2012.
Aside from its early beginnings, York Mountain Winery’s major claim to fame is that Ignacy Paderewski (1860 - 1941) used to bring his grapes there for vinification. Paderewski was a Polish-born concert pianist (the first pianist to solo at Carnegie Hall) and statesman (the first Prime Minister of independent Poland, 1919). He bought a 2,000 acre ranch in Paso Robles in 1914 and eventually settled there. In the mid-1920‘s, Paderewski had 200 acres of vines planted, primarily Zinfandel. His wine was considered quite good, but the vineyard gradually went fallow after his death.
About the Paderewski Vineyard
All of this does lead back to Epoch and today’s wine. Epoch now owns the Paderewski Vineyard which they purchased in 2004 and replanted in 2005. They farm it using organic practices and are moving toward biodynamics, though they won’t necessarily certify. Saxum Vineyards also produces wine from the vineyard. (Epoch's other estate vineyard is Catapult Vineyard which lies near the Booker and L'Aventure vineyards off of Anderson Road. Catapult is biodynamic as of this year.)
The Paderewski Vineyard comprises 65 acres high in the Adelaida district. Total acreage is 350. The vineyard features many elevation changes with steep slopes and rocky — primarily calcareous — soils. Its grape varieties now include the Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre found in Veracity, plus Petite Sirah, Counoise, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Marsanne and Viognier. Roughly 7.5% of the Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre are own-rooted.
The Wine and the 2009 Vintage in Paso Robles
The signal event of the 2009 vintage in Paso Robles was an October 13 deluge. That storm dropped more than 10 inches of rain. Winemaker Jordan Fiorentini told me the grapes the Veracity were all picked before the skies opened up. She added that the Paderewski crop size was good and the grapes fully ripe. Fermentation for the 2009 Veracity was done with native yeasts. 72% of the fermentation took place in square, locally-manufactured, concrete tanks with the remainder in stainless steel.
The 2009 Epoch Veracity is dark ruby in the glass. The bouquet is generous with red cherry, blueberry, cocoa, chocolate, oak, allspice and a delicate floral note. The wine is nearly full-bodied with fine powdery tannins that balance the alcohol and rich flavors but are not drying. Fruit abounds. Red and black cherry, warm plum and blackberry are complemented by oak and loads of chocolate. The finish is lengthy and maintains the balance of tannin and fruit to the end. Drink now through 2020. Highly Recommended.
2009 Epoch “Veracity” Paso Robles
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2018
Release Date: Fall, 2011
Production: 373 cases
Retail Price: $55, available from the tasting room
Blend: 36% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 32% Mourvedre
Origin: Paderewski Vineyard, Paso Robles
Aging: 20 months in French oak barrels, 38% new
The wine above was purchased for review.
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