Today’s Story: Booker Vineyard
Booker Vineyard as it exists today stems from the purchase of 100 acres by Eric and Lisa Jensen in 2001. The history of this land, however, traces back to the late 1920s when Claude and Dick Booker, two orphaned brothers, purchased land on Paso’s Westside that amassed to more than 1,200 acres by the turn of the century. The Bookers were some of Paso’s best-known residents for their farming knowledge and philanthropy, with their largest gift being 100% of their estate left to charity when Dick died in 1990 and Claude died in 2000.
Now back to 2001 with Eric and Lisa, the couple intended to use their new land to grow grapes for some of the best wineries in the Paso Robles area. Though they achieved this goal selling grapes to Saxum for five years and L’Aventure for two years, Eric and Lisa wanted more out of their land and decided to bottle their own wine beginning with the 2005 vintage. A unique and more personalized expression of their land, Booker wines are made by Eric Jensen himself.
Though Booker is not certified organic or biodynamic, their farming practices pull inspiration from both methods. The Jensens have come to realize that biodynamic farming practices help maintain the interconnected lifestyle and cycles of all entities in the vineyards, providing a boost to soil and vine health that becomes apparent in their wines. Furthermore, the vines are planted in rather high density so each plant can focus its energy on few clusters that create concentrated wines rather than an abundance of fruit. This is also important because Booker’s vineyards do not get much water.
Much like the mentality in the vineyards, Booker makes their wines in minimalist fashion. Eric strives to interfere as little as possible, with his red wine fermentations started using pump-overs and moving to punch-downs in most cases once fermentation starts. The wines are not racked until bottling and these wines are typically aged for 18 months. For more, check out the Booker website here where much of the above information finds its source.
Today’s Wine: 2016 Vertigo GSM Red Blend
52% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 18% Mourvèdre; 14.9% ABV
The 2016 Vertigo is medium to deep ruby in color and moderately transparent. Once the wine opens up (you will need to decant this) the nose offers enticing aromas of blackberry, blueberry, red berry jam, baked cherry, licorice, lavender, a touch of smoke, leather, game, chocolate, and a hint of vanilla. On the palate this wine displays delicious notes of blackberry compote, blueberry, black plum, candied cherry, scorched earth, graphite, blood, bitter chocolate, green herbs, and stony minerality. The wine is medium-bodied with high acidity, high tannins, and a long grippy finish dominated by dark berries and plum. Overall this is a complex yet sweet GSM that, while beautiful now with some air, needs time to fully come together in the cellar.
Price: $80. This is not cheap but fairly priced, though I would steer you toward better value wines (such as Ridge GSM) if you intend to drink it now. You need to be patient for a few more years with this one but will be handsomely rewarded. Pair this with red meats and game accompanied by mushroom or pepper sauce.