More and more winemakers in California seem to be starting small, eponymous labels on the side, which invariably allow them to concentrate on their true passion, whether it be for a particular varietal, style of winemaking, or region of the state.
Austin Hope, currently a winemaker for Treana and Liberty School wines, has turned to his own label to pursue his love of the Rhone, specifically Syrah. Austin's family has been farming in Paso Robles for decades, and that seemed a natural place for him to establish his own winery, both because of his three generations of farming history there, as well as for the region's ability to produce excellent Rhone varietals.
Austin Hope Winery produces three wines, a Rhone style blend called Westside Red, a Rousanne, and this Syrah. Each is carefully crafted starting with high density extremely low yield farming techniques, cramming many more vines per acre than normally found in the region, yet limiting each vine to produce merely 8 clusters of grapes from his French cloned vines. This technique, Austin believes, concentrates the fruit and builds complexity.
The Syrah is aged in 100% French oak for 15 to 18 months before bottling and is made in extremely limited quantities. I believe that the 2001 is the inaugural commercial vintage for this wine, and if that is the case it's a great effort. Keep an eye on this one.
Dark garnet in the glass with hints of blue, this wine has a strong nose that includes aromas of sawdust and ripe, ripe black cherries. In the mouth it incorporates flavors of blackberries, blueberries, and black cherry, with elements of chocolate and vanilla that shine through in the finish. This is an extremely extracted wine, and ultimately suffers from a lack of balance, with too much fruit and not enough acidity and spice notes to balance it out. Despite that, the flavors it presents are extremely pleasurable.
Given the heavy fruit nature of this wine, I'd pair it exclusively with strong cheeses like Stilton or Roquefort, or serve it with your spiciest of spicy foods: habanero stuffed tacos or jalapeno soup -- you get the picture.
Overall Score: 8/8.5
This wine received 93 points from Wilfred Wong.
How Much?: $48
I believe some wine is available for purchase from the winery, as well as from select Internet merchants. Try Wine Searcher.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Holiday Gift Guide for the Wine Lover Who Has Everything I'll Drink to That: Andrew McNamara of The Court of Master Sommeliers Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 22, 2015 I'll Drink to That: Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards Vinography Images: Rows of Gold A Lonely Hillside: The Wines of Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay I'll Drink to That: Karen MacNeil The Most Untrustworthy Wine in the World Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 11/22 I'll Drink to That: CP Lin of Erewhon
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune