Wine of the Month Club| Interview with Adam LaZarre
Paul: [Inaudible 0:02].
Adam: Antonio Banderas and I love you all.
Paul: No, I’m kidding. Welcome to the Wine of the Month Club Winemaker series, very excited to have Adam LaZarre, rhymes with bazaar, right?
Adam: Rhymes with bazaar.
Paul: Isn’t that what you tell everybody like you told me?
Adam: Well, if you can’t pronounce it the first time.
Paul: I had a hard time the first time. We first met at Galleano Winery, in Cucamonga.
Adam: Do you mind telling me what Donald Galleano was doing?
Paul: No, I don’t want to get into that.
Paul: Villa San-Juliette which is in Paso Robles.
Paul: Now, I’m a huge fan and my kids are too. And I’ll admit this on camera of American Idol.
Paul: And you just mentioned something. Part of the ownership is…
Adam: You didn’t know that?
Paul: No, I did not know that.
Adam: Yeah. Actually, Villa San-Juliette is owned by Ken Warwick, Nigel Lythgoe. Ken Warwich is the executive producer of American Idol. And Nigel Lythgoe is the producer and host of So You Think You Can Dance and a couple of really nice Brits [inaudible 1:00].
Paul: I can’t do either but I’m wondering that’s why I got [inaudible 1:02]. Maybe you’ll give me an audition or something.
Paul: Maybe buy some wine with that.
Adam: Yeah. Figure the odds. No kidding. I actually haven’t been down to see the show taping although I understand I have tickets available to me.
Paul: Good stuff. Well, we’re going to taste some wines today. This was fun. Fat Monk, now this is not referring to, and I’ve worked with Xerox for five years, and [inaudible 1:25] the monk that do the copies. This is not that guy, is it?
Adam: No, no. Actually, if you look, I don’t know if you can see with the camera. Angle it. This guy here was actually a design by Nigel. And we are just literally a Frisbee throw away from one of the original California missions, Mission San Miguel. The Franciscan monks and friars are still there doing their thing. And so this was kind of a little tip of the hat to them. This is actually a pewter statue that we have sitting on top of the winery.
Paul: That’s great.
Paul: It’s a fun story.
Adam: It’s a fun story. We have two labels that we create out of Villa San-Juliette. Obviously, Villa San-Juliette main line, but when I left my last winery that I have worked at, a number of growers, friends of mine that had grapes wanted to come with me because they’ve just liked the work that I had done with their grapes.
Adam: And they stretched from Monterey down to Santa Barbara so I created a special label just for them. It’s [inaudible 2:25] fruit but these are all friends.
Paul: These are friends? Friend’s vineyards.
Adam: Yeah, friends vineyards.
Paul: It’s nice to have friends in good places like that.
Adam: It’s nice to have friends period.
Paul: Well I enjoyed the wine. This is Central Coast Chardonnay.
Paul: And what I like about it, it was the balance was great, gorgeous for one but it was not overdone.
Paul: Not overoaked.
Paul: And you get Chardonnay flavors. How about that?
Adam: I used to get beaten up for pretty heavy handed oak treatment.
Paul: Did you really?
Adam: I used to subscribe to the theory that you can never overoak a wine. Right. You know the world has changed to fill up my palette and the palette in the world’s palette is changed. And I’m hitting my microphone here.
Paul: Oh, that’s great. Everyone will love this on the camera.
Adam: So we have such great intense fruits. The reason I’m on the Central Coast and not working in any other area is because of the intensity of the fruit that we have. The flavors, when it’s grown correctly, gives some really pungent beautiful flowers and fruits. And this is a blend of couple of vineyards. A friend of mine up in Santa Lucia Highlands so you get the stone fruit, the peaches, nectarines.
Paul: I get the peaches for sure.
Adam: And then you get some of the pretty apple, green apple you get from Paso Robles vineyard, a friend that I worked with there. So it’s a combination. [Inaudible 3:37] way off, there is some oaky-ness, not totally and oak Chardonnay but there is some oak in there, but just enough to help liberate some of the flavors and aromatics that only can…
Paul: The balance is great, the oak balance. I get the green apples. I get the pieces of nectarines all kind of melts together.
Adam: Can we drink on the camera and internet?
Adam: Okay, good. This isn’t network TV, huh?
Paul: I did a TV show in 1981. You wouldn’t believe this. There was a beer chugging contest on NBC. It was USC versus Alabama. You can watch it on YouTube. And the producer said, “Are you supposed to drink? You’re not supposed to drink,” right, on the national TV so he was up with apple juice in these mugs for these guys. And he said, “You know what? Forget it. This is s beer chugging contest. We’re going to chug beer. These guys drink 3 16 ounces beers in like three minutes.
Adam: [Inaudible 4:26].
Paul: Anyway, this is the Villa San-Juliet Petite Sirah, and we’ve tasted this a couple times but this one, it’s done very well on the bottle it seems like.
Adam: Yeah. I’ve worked with Petite Sirah. I’ve been making wine for nearly 20 years in California. Virtually every appellation, I’ve worked with the fruit. And Petite Sirah is one of my favorite varietals to work with because it’s a great blender in Sirah blends. It’s just nice to have around in the wine. If you need a little color, couple percentage or something, darkens it right out. And over the last couple of years, Petite Sirah has become really en vogue. It’s become the rage especially in the east coast United States. And I spend probably between 35 and 40 weeks a year around the road supporting, selling, marketing wine along with Jamie Glenn standing behind the camera who [inaudible 5:18] by the way. Off camera. And one thing we’ve noticed is people are asking for Petite Sirah, restaurateurs, wine chefs.
Adam: So I think Paso Robles has that really nice combination. I call it like blueberry and stinky feet, that kind of gamey, earthy component to it. So this is a vineyard, this comes from our estate vineyard as well as the vineyard just down the road of a very good friend of mine who has it. I’ve been working with this fruit for a long time and I thought, “What an amazing time to start a Petite Sirah Program.”
Adam: And so I’ve had it in barrels for a year, not this particular wine, but I’ve been working with Petite Sirah so I selected the very best barrels I could. And for me, it can be very one dimensional. Petite Sirah could be over the top like blueberry jam.
Paul: Tons of blueberries in this on for sure.
Adam: I actually blended a little Cabernet in behind it.
Paul: For a little structure.
Adam: It’s be a little structure and rough up the edges a little bit so it makes a little fruit friendly.
Paul: Look at the leg too. It’s gorgeous. The color’s gorgeous.
Adam: I’ve got some stuff in here, that’s for sure.
Paul: I love it when you pour the wine and the bubbles are purple. I just love that.
Adam: That’s a good sign, I think.
Paul: It is. The extraction’s gorgeous, the color’s gorgeous, the bounce is great. And Petite Sirah needs to be a little opulent. That’s kind of the nature of the grape, right?
Adam: Yeah. I mean it’s definitely a wine for fans of like big Zinfandels or if somebody Spanish [inaudible 6:43] that’s like so over the top.
Paul: Yeah. That’s right. I get that right there.
Adam: It’s kind of like what I was shooting for, a great [inaudible 6:50].
Paul: Really good. Okay, the next one is Villa San-Juliette ’08 Merlot which you said you just bottled.
Adam: I just bottled.
Paul: And you’re licking the glass. You don’t see that every day. It must be really good. You must really like that Petite Sirah.
Adam: Actually, I’ve got to get behind the wheels so I want to get as much of alcohol as possible.
Paul: Really? You didn’t hear that here, folks. So if you just bottle this, we actually put it through our aerator when we’re down with the thing but I don’t think it’d need it. It’s just really doing well actually.
Adam: I had an opportunity early in my career to study in one of the greatest Australian Winemakers, maybe Peter Douglas, and two things he talked to me about were oak and chardonnay and sirahs as a back blender. And I think that the fruit particularly the east side Paso Robles lends itself more to Australian style winemaking. The grapes ripen at a higher, I mean the physiological ripeness, the flavors don’t develop until you get a higher sugar so it’s going to give more alcohol, they’re going to be a little more structured.
Adam: And a few people like [inaudible 7:55] for example can do old world style winemaking off the east side but I think most of the vineyards really lend itself more to [inaudible 8:02] style winemaking. And so that’s what I was shooting for with this. I used some Sirahs in behind it, a little temper neo. I actually haven’t finished the blend sheet yet. They’re still new. So I have to go back and figure out what the hell I actually did.
Paul: That’s something. I taste a lot of wine in here. I don’t get a lot of Merlots that are blend back with temper neo. That’s really interesting.
Adam: It’s just is big meaty wine that there’s a little hole in the back of the mid-palette. Merlot can sometimes have that. And with just a few percent but I think that’s all it needed.
Paul: Gorgeous. And I can see this aging gracefully. It’s got the layers in the middle, still a little tight of course, you just bottled it.
Adam: Oh, yeah.
Paul: But there’s still a ton going on in the wine. It’s gorgeous.
Adam: Yeah. But it’s got a lot of structure and depth. And for me, I’m very, very passionate about Merlot. It’s got such a bad rap and after that damn movie just always Merlot sales says you know.
Paul: And why, you know, not making any sense.
Adam: It shut everything down in around the country.
Paul: It’s been good for us though, actually.
Adam: I mean I believe that probably 95% of the Merlot is planted in California. It shouldn’t be planted there. In fact, I think that far fewer places grow good Merlot than Pinot Noir in California.
Adam: There’s a fine line between being too cold and too warm.
Adam: And when you have the right combination of soil climate, it’s a cool climate grape, you need to get that black cherry cola, often have a little tea leaf, a little green streak over the top, and that’s fine. For me, the benchmarks are the wines in [inaudible 9:23] in Northern Italy, [inaudible 9:25] in South Africa. And these wines are voluptuous, they’ve got that cherry.
Adam: And I think the great fruit wine is very, very versatile once it’s made. It’s not this little bitter jolly [inaudible 9:37] candy than a lot of Merlots.
Paul: No. It’s clearly not that.
Adam: No, no.
Paul: It’s excellent. Well it’s gorgeous wine. All of them are great. And I look forward to having these in the inventory. Buy you two. And it’s a pleasure having you here, Adam.
Adam: My pleasure.
Paul: Hope to see you one day on the road again.
Adam: I hope so. Come up and visit.
- Import Selection: Chateau Chariot, 1988. Corbieres
- Domestic Selection: Chardonnay, 1989. White Oak
- The Matter of the French Paradox
- Adventures in Eating: California Caesar Salad
- Import Selection: Chateau Larroque, 1989. Bordeaux
- Domestic Selection: Charbono, 1979. Inglenook-Napa Valley
- A Note From The Cellarmaster
- Adventures in Eating: Fresh Raspberry Pie
- Import Selection: Cabernet Sauvignon, 1988. Los Vascos
- Domestic Selection: Muscat Canelli, 1990. Santino Winery