Delicate and Floral Rhône Blend From Paso Robles

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 did not receive organic certification until April 2021 and they are not certified biodynamic, their farming practices have always pulled inspiration from both philosophies. 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. With his white wines, Eric doesn’t stick to a particular formula or practice and tries to make wines that stand out within the region. For more, check out the Booker website here where much of the above information finds its source.

To explore another bottling from Booker after today’s tasting notes, I previously reviewed the 2016 Vertigo GSM Red Blend.

Today’s Wine: 2017 White

49% Roussanne, 30% Viognier, 12% Chardonnay, 4% Clairette Blanc, 3% Grenache Blanc, 2% Marsanne; 14.8% ABV

The 2017 White is pale to medium gold in color. I let this open up in the glass for about 30 minutes or so. The aromas are of medium intensity, and the very delicate and floral nose showcases aromas of dried pineapple, white peach, mango, white lily, chamomile, brioche, and wet river stone. The flavors are also of medium intensity, and on the palate I get notes of pineapple, Meyer lemon, tropical citrus, orange peel, beeswax, chamomile, dried wild herbs, and stony mineral. This dry white blend is medium- to full-bodied with an oily mouthfeel, medium (+) acidity, high alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $50. I think this is a solid price-point for this wine, particularly for how true to variety it is given the blend. The ABV is certainly higher than I prefer in my wines, but it doesn’t stick out at all and the balance here is great. While there may be better “values,” this is a delicious wine from a great producer.

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