This was my first time actually to catch up with [the very busy] Larry Schaffer, as we've known each other through social media circles for sometime, but never met in person. He's as gregarious in person, as the wines he makes. If you have not heard of this label before, let me tell you this, if you like Rhône wines and varietals you just can't go wrong with Tercero Wines. To be fair and objective [in other words not to sound like a cheerleader] with that previous statement I didn't like them all, that said the one's I really liked were not just good, they were very good!
About Tercero: According to what I could glean from their website, Larry Schaffer had been in the educational and trade publishing industry for a number of years and had achieved all he had set out to do. But he thought it was time for a change, so he went back to school and achieved a second degree, this one in Viticulture and Enology with great sacrifice to him and his wife personally. Fast forward four years and Larry begins his new career in earnest as the Enologist for Fess Parker Winery. Fast forward another year, and Larry [with his wife] is ready to ‘take the plunge’ and start buying grapes to make their own wines! The rest as they say, "is history" and a new winery is born. Congratulations!
About the vineyards: According to their website, "This vineyard, located in eastern Santa Ynez, was planted in the fall of 1999. It is comprised of approximately 250 acres of vines, with a plethora of varieties planted, including syrah, grenache, mourvedre, cinsault, counouise, carignan, grenache blanc, viognier, marsanne, rousanne, and more". They also have vineyards in Larner Vineyard – Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos, Tierra Alta Vineyard – Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos, Thompson Vineyard – Los Alamos and coming soon Watch Hill Vineyard – Los Alamos. For more details about the Tercero Vineyards please click on the link.
Okay is here are the wines I really liked that day and the score they achieved:
This is the wine I really liked the most, it's the 2006 Cuvee Christie and it falls to the lush side of taste equation. It is made up of 60% grenache, 30% syrah, and 10% mourvedre. Each component was fermented and aged separately, and the final blend was ‘combined’ about a month before bottling. The wine is named after his "partner in crime" [aka, his wife Christie]. This was my second time to sample this wine and was of one his first bottling under this new label. I ordered a couple of bottles, upon the initial offer acquire some of his wine. I scored this wine 94 points and it's a fantastic representation of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape style red wine, the classic GSM formula. It sells for a mere $28 and is under a Stelvin closure as all of his wines are and he assures me with a study that it is just as good or even better than a traditional cork closure.
He already has the 2007 Cuvee Christie in the bottle and it's admittedly a departure from the 06, in that it's a little more reserved in style and fruit substance. Nevertheless, this wine has a interesting flavor range from blackberry, cherries clear through to milk chocolate, currants and bacon. Framed alongside some intense tannins that make it a bit austere. I scored this wine 90 points and believe it will get better with a little more bottle age. I believe it's being sold for the same price as the 2006.
I really love a good Grenache and when I come across a good one I like to tell the whole world, so may I introduce to you the Tercero 2007 Watch Hill Grenache which is on the spot and sweet, with black cherry and roundness on the nose, followed by ripe plum and berry flavors on the palate. About as good as an inexpensive Grenache will get I scored this wine 91 points and a real crowd pleaser to be sure and selling for a mere $28, get it while they last.
On the white side of the equation, the standouts for me were the 2008 The Outlier, selling for $18. This is a 100% Gewürztraminer made from thirty-year-old head trained vines from Los Alamos. The very fragrant nose could easily fool you into thinking this wine a sweet; instead the firm acidity keeps that aspect under firm control. A great everyday drinking wine which I scored 91 points and I would think it will pair especially well with a majority of spicy dishes.
Rounding out my favorites from the many we sampled, the 2008 Grenache Blanc stood out as wonderful statement of refined elegance, I say that because Grenache Blanc can be heavy and flabby when coaxed to high yields. However it appears Tercero's more careful management style, was able to produce a subtle, yet rich wine even though it was stainless steel and neutral oak fermented. This wine exhibited honey, almonds and slate aromas on the nose and my first sip revealed full, round, but still fresh flavors, intertwined fruit and earthy flavors. Many great pairing possibilities with this wine, I'm thinking possibly a pumpkin risotto, roast chicken, or pork chops with applesauce. I scored this wine 90 points and it represents a great bargain at $18, please give it a swirl.
There are more highlights to come, this was a huge event and I visited a little over 13 stations. So there is still much to talk about and bring to your attention, so please stay tuned. Until next time cheers everyone!