2014 Paso Robles Albarino

Tealy and Greg Barr grew up in New Orleans, one of America’s great food and wine destinations. Here they were constantly exposed to flavors from around the world, especially those from Creole, Cajun, and French culinary traditions. French wines dominated retail shelves and restaurant wine lists at the time. This was a natural fit, as the higher acidity in most French wines is the perfect foil to cut through the natural richness of French food. But this was only the first foray into European wine culture for Tealy and Greg. Greg continued a career with a multi-national, industrial equipment manufacturer and soon found himself and his wife living in Europe. 

 

Living in “The Old World” during the mid-70”s and late 80’s, they were exposed to winemaking traditions passed down through multiple generations. These traditions extended from the vineyard itself, to cellar, to the dinner table. They moved back to California in the 1990s. Although California had a much shorter wine history, it also had numerous up and coming wine regions. Greg and Tealy knew their next adventure would be to own a vineyard, but they wanted to find the perfect terroir. At the time, Paso Robles was just beginning to be planted with vineyards in earnest. Also important to Tealy and Greg was the fact that “the farmer and the winemaker were still the same person here.” It wasn’t long before the business began to grow. Signe Zoller was hired as a consulting winemaker. A graduate of the world-renowned UC Davis enology program, Signe gained years of winemaking experience at highly-regard Central Coast producers Meridien and Cambria. They also knew that in order to make great wines, you must have great fruit. It remains a family affair, with their daughter Mathilde handling sales from her home base in San Francisco.

 

The climatic conditions are idyllic. The summer days are extremely warm and sunny and grapes ripen easily, sometimes too much so. But the ocean breezes off the Pacific provide just the right amount of cooling influence to retain freshness and ensure a long growing season that brings about full flavor development. They knew the plot they were purchasing was very well suited to Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape that likes significant heat, but also likes to hang on the vine until later in the season. This wide swing in growing season temperatures was intriguing. Perhaps they could plant several other varietals that were well suited to this climate too. They had found a Mediterranean paradise, and grapes from Spain, Italy, and France were all possibilities. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, they now produce wines from Viognier, Petite Sirah, Malbec, as well as delicious olive oil. However, it was the Albarino that first captured our attention.

Surprisingly, Albarino is traditionally at home in a climate that is more cool and damp than Paso Robles. The classic growing area in Spain for Albarino is Rias Baixas or the “low estuaries.” It is a coastal region in the far west that borders Portugal’s Vinho Verde or ‘Green Country,” another historic district named for its lush landscape that has many plantings of the grape. In the past, it has been grown using the enforcado system. The vines are trained high off the ground, allowing for other crops to grow underneath the canopy. This also allows for good air circulation to help prevent rot in the wet climate.  In Paso Robles, the grapes are trained in a manor that allows Teal and Greg to control the yields. By controlling to vigor of the grapevine, they ensure concentrated fruit flavors and aromas. Although this Albarino from a place far from its ancestral home, it still shows very classic markers. Green apple, meyer lemon, orange zest and melon all leap from the glass. There is a salty minerality that drives the ultra-refreshing finish. When I think about food to pair with this wine, I think about dishes from coastal Spain and coastal California as well. Little fish, scallops, and other shellfish with citrus and fresh herbs accompaniments all make natural partners. We are proud to offer this unique wine from a family that cares so much about the land, food, and wine. The attention to detail comes through vividly in the finished bottle. We hope you enjoy it with your friends and family as well. 

Martin Sheehan-Stross