The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2011

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Page 91 of 128

thanks to soil akin to Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the area's innumerable micro-climates, things began to change in 2002, when Halter Ranch re- leased its first vintages, bottled under its own label. The impetus behind this escalating meta- morphosis is industrialist, conservationist and wine impresario Hansjörg Wyss, the wealthiest man in Sweden and one of the world's leading billionaires. Enamored with the area, in 2000 Wyss purchased what would become Halter Ranch (giving it his mother's maiden name of Halter) with the objective of transforming it into the finest winery in Paso. It is not a wistful aspiration—there are literally no financial barri- ers to achieving this goal, and Wyss has already created the team to make it happen. This year Kevin Sass joined Halter Ranch as winemaker after 11 years with Justin Winery, and Skylar Stuck, former Senior Vice President of Sales and Export Director at Hope Family Skylar Stuck, Halter Ranch General Manager and Richard Carleton Hacker at the winery's restored Victorian house discuss the just released 2007 Ancestor Estate Reserve, a Bordeaux- style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Syrah. Hacker's Hit Pick Côtes de Paso Red (SRP $28), a Southern Rhône-style blend, personifies the flexibility of Halter Ranch. Of their 20 vari- eties, five make up this "Pinot on steroids," as winemaker Sass calls it. The deep ruby hues of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Counoise and Cinsault produce a fruit-soaked silkiness with a wisp of smoke. Linking the original 1874 pre-Halter Ranch land to the new state-of-the-art winery currently being built, the covered bridge was constructed in Oregon and shipped to Paso Robles. Wines for 14 years, became General Manager. Although Halter Ranch grows 20 varietals, only five core wines are slated for national distribution: Ancestor Reserve Blend, Côtes de Paso Blanc, Côtes de Paso Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. The calcareous (limestone and clay) soil of Halter Ranch encourages vineyard roots to reach as deep as 60 feet, giving them perma- nency. Concentrating on the long term, Wyss wants his vines to last 100 years. Judging from progress thus far, he will get his wish. october 201 1 / the tasting panel / 91

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