I’m a Rhône fan, but I’m also a Bordeaux/Zin/whatever is great fan. Point is that if asked I have a hard time picking just one wine as a favorite. Depends on where I happen to be, what’s on my plate and whose company I might be enjoying. So, in a nutshell, it depends on my collective mood. And the day I met Michel Ayer I was in a really good mood. Then again, every time since then my mood has only improved – by his Rhônes, all two of them. (What is a Rhône? A quick lesson can be had via the Rhone Rangers website: http://rhonerangers.org/)
Michel makes a white Rhône, a 100% Viognier; and a red Rhône, a Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre blend.
Previous Tasting Notes
Eve’s Wine 101: Tasting the First Rhones from Workman Ayer, July 2014, SCV Beacon.
Eve’s Wine 101: Garagiste Urban Exposure: Their First Wine Tasting at Union Station, July 2014, SCV Beacon
Eve’s Wine 101: Can’t Get Enough: STARS of California Part Two, June 2016, SCV Beacon
Catching up with Michel Ayer
Before the tasting I reached out to Michel to ask him what was new and what the future holds for him.
No particular challenges in the vineyards in 2013 despite continued drought conditions. Real challenges begin with 2015 and yields being down and therefore fruit prices being up. As for the future, hope to get over to California in January to pour at wineLA’s Stars of Santa Barbara in both Orange County and Beverly Hills, but have yet to solidify that plan. Am also working to expand production on our existing two wines as well as explore adding a Grenache dominant blend and a white Rhône blend (both initially likely only via mailing list).
Workman Ayer 2013 “de facto” red wine, Central Coast
Syrah Grenache Mourvedre (aka GSM blend)
Aromas of black cherry, plum, red roses and a hint of black licorice and black olives.
Flavors included ripe and rich black fruit, green peppercorn, cigar, charred steak, that same hint of black olive and firm tannins. 90 Eve pts. at the first taste, 91 Eve pts. After 10 minutes in my glass. Other scores include: 91 from The Corkscrewer Report, 89 Wine Enthusiast magazine, and 88 from Connoisseurs’ Guide.
2013 was a warm, dry growing season. In every single month from March through November, valley temperatures were above the historical average and precipitation was below. Thankfully, the rest of the growing season was fairly problem free – no massive heat spikes and less frost problems than normal resulting in a large, but high quality harvest – despite the drought conditions.
30% Los Alamos Syrah, 25% Ballard Canyon Syrah, 25% Santa Ynez Valley Syrah, 10% Los Alamos Grenache, .10% Los Alamos Mourvedre. Production: 100 cases 750 ml.
The bulk of the Syrah was from Los Alamos and was its typical self – big, fat, chewy, smoky. The Ballard Canyon Syrah was off the charts good with nice oak. Then there was some Santa Ynez Valley Syrah. We used two lots – the first pick and the last pick. The first pick was zingy and perfumy, which added a great backbone to the blend. The last pick was dark and brooding, but still nice aromas. It was a nice balance of the two. The Mourvedre was a bit tannic and structured, which was a nice addition. The Grenache was little softer than normal, but loads of nice strawberry. The blend was aged in approximately 40% new French oak for 20 months.
Winemaker’s Tasting Notes
Bright, fresh aromas of strawberry, white pepper, anise, smoked meat, caramel and kirsch. Broad, expansive and mouthwatering on the palate, with flavors of sweet raspberry, strawberry, tart plum, earth and semi-sweet chocolate. Very long finish with continuing bright, fresh fruit and rich tannins. Remarkably forward now, but also deep and structured. The ol’ iron fist in a velvet glove!
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com