I first met Mark Blatty of Byron Blatty Wines (same person but I understand he prefers to go by Mark) at Assistance League’s wildly successful Sunset in the Vineyard 10th Anniversary event last November. His tasting table was adjacent to the Pulchella Winery table and I quickly learned that Mark had joined other local winemakers at the Pulchella crush pad.
Then I tasted his wine and noted, I had to have more. In January I did a round up on what happens in our wineries in January and February for Elite magazine and Mark wrote, “In February Byron Blatty will be bottling at least two brand new wines for their spring release. A Rosé of Grenache that’s 100% LA County fruit as well as at least one new red blend that is Grenache, Syrah and Merlot (also LA County). It’s their unorthodox take on a GSM.” The “their” included winemakers Steve Lemley, Nate Hasper and assistant winemaker Joey Perry. (See below under “website” to learn more about the winemaking team.)
Those wines Mark referenced would prove to be the two wines I would be tasting for this article, and readers would also have a chance to maybe try them too at Wine On The Roof set for May 17.
2017 Rosé, Los Angeles County
With an inviting color of rose gold I was drawn in to find aromas of ripe raspberry, lemon and lime zest, yellow peach and tropical fruit – made me think of Hawaii…and a beach…and a much needed vacation. Okay, back to the wine, I dove in (not to the ocean) for a taste. Luscious mouth coating viscosity and a hell of a lot of fruit, same as on the nose, lightly crisp and with medium acidity. As the length just went on and on, I thought how nice this would be in between bites of…just about anything that sounds good with a Rosé wine. 90 Eve pts.
2016 Tremor, Los Angeles County
65% Grenache, 30% Merlot and 5% Syrah
Aged 18 months in French oak barrels
Dark garnet in color, with a honeyed edge that may be indicative of the time spent in oak, was my first observation. Then the spices on the nose hit me like a ton of bricks, well maybe not a ton of bricks, but the full spice rack! Along with dark plums, chocolate, red berry, blueberry – and then the two, the spices and the fruit, just melded perfectly together. Itching for a taste, you guessed it, I dove in again. A very full mouthfeel of pleasantly blended fruit, spice, a mild but welcome heat from the alcohol, toasted oak, length and a style that I wasn’t really familiar with. Maybe it was the blending Rhône with Bordeaux grapes that got my attention but I don’t care what it was, this renegade of a wine was delicious! Betting even better with a little aging or decanting. 92 Eve pts.
From The Website
Mark & Jenny Blatty, Proprietors – Mark and Jenny founded Byron Blatty Wines in 2014, after a visit to Napa Valley. Inspired by the story of Napa’s original vintners, who challenged the French with their determination to create world-class wines in a previously unproven region, the Blattys had only one rule that would guide them on their endeavor to start a commercial winery: The wines had to be from their hometown of Los Angeles. Initially they intended to plant a small vineyard on their hillside property, but soon realized that the space was not large enough, nor was it right for the varietals they had in mind. Undeterred, they began to search for vineyards in LA County from which to source their grapes. Despite the area’s rich wine history, established vineyards in LA are few and far between, and it took the couple nearly a year to discover just the right sites, tucked away in the far corners of the county.
In addition to being vintners, the Blattys also have careers in television. Mark is a Los Angeles native, and Jenny relocated from Chicago in 2001. Their first child, Oliver Byron Blatty, was born in January 2017.
Steve Lemley and Nate Hasper, Winemakers – Steve Lemley and Nate Hasper are the winemakers for Byron Blatty Wines. With more than thirty-five years of combined winemaking experience, as well as formal training at UC Davis, the pair melds a deep knowledge of modern techniques with the finesse and feel one only acquires through firsthand experience with multiple vintages. With an almost fanatical approach, they work hand in hand with our growers and in the winery to push the fruit to the absolute limits for maximum flavor and color extraction, while retaining each varietal’s nuances and subtleties. The result is bold, powerfully styled wines that stand out from the crowd.
Joey Perry, Assistant Winemaker –Joey Perry became Byron Blatty’s assistant winemaker for the 2015 vintage—his third overall—and he manages all winery operations for Lemley and Hasper. The SoCal native got his MBA from the University of Laverne and had his sights set on a career on Wall Street before a wine course at College of the Canyons in Valencia altered his path. Perry decided the trading life was not going to be for him and instead immersed himself in wine, going to work full time for Lemley and Hasper after graduation. He married his wife, Kristine, in 2015 and lives in Santa Clarita with her and their two dogs.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, 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