On March 25 at the High Museum Auction trade wine tasting in Atlanta I was able to meet Adam LaZarre, winemaker from Villa San Juliette Winery in Paso Robles, CA. Adam has an impressive list of accomplishments, gold medals and best of show awards. In addition, he has been honored by the Sacramento Bee as Winemaker of the Year in 2005, and was named one of the Top Five Winemakers in 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle. He has produced wines from virtually every major appellation in California over the course of his two decade career.
Q: Adam, how your passion for wine and winemaking began?
A: “I fell in love with wine while stationed at a Navy base in Washington State’s Puget Sound. I lived near a wine shop and would spend a little time learning about wines when I had the chance, more in order to impress the dates that I would go out on more than any other reason. Most guys knew (or should know) that if you want a “successful” date, you should come across as someone wine savvy. It just so happened that the wine became more important than the babes and the next thing I know I was hooked.”
“I spent the last three years of my Navy career studying as much as I could about wine and proceeded to jump right into Fresno State University’s Enology (Wine Science) program immediately after my service ended.”
Q: Adam, How many wine labels are the product of your hard work?
A: ” I’ve made numerous wines over my career including Hahn, Rex-Goliath, and Cycles-Gladiator, and I am currently producing the wines for the Paso Robles start-up, Villa San-Juliette Winery, owned by Kan Warwick of American Idol and Nigel Lythgoe of So You Think You Can Dance. I also produce Pinot Noirs and Pinot Blancs under my own LaZarre label and consult for the Hearst Ranch Winery in Paso Robles. There is a Spanish label in the works right now too but we haven’t decided on a final name yet.”
I am familiar with the well crafted wines from San-Julliette:
- 2008 Sauvignon Blanc: This wine has fresh aromas of lemon peel, orange citrus, pear and grass. Nicely balanced wine with grapefruit, melon and a note of spice. Elegant wine with great acidity, great for food pairing. Try it with shellfish, fish with simple condiments and sauces. Retails for $15.
- 2007 Petit Syrah: This is the first vintage on this wine. It has an intense dark red color with rich aromas of blueberry, dark plum balanced with toasty oak and spice. This is a big red with moderate textured tannins and pleasant acidity with layered flavors of dark fruit, black currants and mocha. Great wine to pair with red meats, pasta with red sauce and New Orleans style cuisine. This wine retails for $15.
- 2008 Merlot: This wine is intense ruby red in color, rich bouquet of blackberry, black cherry and currant and a hint of toffee. On the palate you find complex and layered flavors of red berries, plum, vanilla and pepper. This Merlot is well balanced with moderate silky tannins and has moderate to low acid. This wine retails for $16.
- 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine is dark red in color with intense aromas of blackberry, plum and oak. On the palate this wine shows oak and firm tannins nicely balanced with well-ripened fruit; persistent flavors of blackberry and dark cherry layered with dark chocolate, vanilla and casis. This wine has a crisp acidic moderate finish. This wine retails for $16.
- 2007 Chorum: This wine is a 68% Shiraz and 32% Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Deep ruby red color and red fruits, green pepper and spice aromas. On the palate you can taste decent red fruit flavors with cedar, vanilla and black pepper. Enjoyable dryness throughout with nice acidity. This wine retails for $22.
It was a pleasant surprise to try Adam’s private label LaZarre wines:
- 2007 Pinot Blanc (100% Pinot Blanc. This is an elegant wine with soft green apple and melon aromas and nice balance of fruit and acidity. I was very impressed with its punchy fruit and palate weight and texture. Great wine to pair with food. This wine retails for $28.)
- 2007 Pinot Noir Central Coast (Earthy and red fruit aromas with flavors of black cherry, fresh herbs, spice and notes of vanilla and oak. It is a complex wine with textured tannins and clean finish. This wine retails for $35)
- 2007 Pinot Noir “Bien Nacido” (Ripe fruit, cinnamon and black currants aromas. It has lush flavors of dark plum, blackberries and blueberries with earthy mushroom notes. It is a well structured and balanced wine. Medium-bodied with a pleasant lingering finish. This wine retails for $68.)
In Atlanta you can find Villa San-Juliette wines in retail outlets like: The Wine Cellars, Inc-Smyrna, Hall’s of Fine Wines and The Dekalb Farmer’s Market.