Booker’s Rhône Hit Parade
Booker Vineyard has long been a Wine Advocate darling, clocking an astounding 99 wines that have earned scores of 93 points or more since Robert Parker graced their inaugural 2005 vintage with a 95. And they’re only getting better: “While in the past, they relied on pure fruit and texture to impress, today they possess layered, elegant and complex characters paired with serious depth, richness and structure,” says Jeb Dunnuck, the Advocate’s star reviewer and the world’s last word on Rhône-style wines. Enter the 94- to 96-point 2015 Booker Jada Vineyard, the “full-bodied, rich, unctuous,” Syrah and Grenache blend from Eric Jensen, the winemaker responsible for “some of the most impressive releases coming out of California.” Describing this jammy, brooding, and seamless powerhouse grown in the clay soils of prestigious Templeton Gap, Dunnuck takes the words out of our mouths: “It’s another stacked red from Jensen that readers shouldn’t miss.”
Before launching Booker Vineyard in 2005, Eric and Lisa Jensen supplied grapes from their choice Paso Robles site to 100-point producer Saxum and local heavyweight L’Aventure. Needless to say, the Jensens had little reason to go outside their own estate in their quest to make world-class wines. The proof was in their own 2013 100-pointer.
But in 2015, Eric Jensen crafted a Booker Rhône Blend with Syrah and Grenache from Jada’s well-drained clay-loam vineyard on the west side of Paso Robles. Under the thin topsoil of the 1,200-foot Jada Vineyard, shale and limestone provide a challenging environment for the vines, which results in lower yields, smaller berry size, and complex and intense fruit. The generous proportion of Grenache adds red-fruit brightness, and the vineyard’s maritime influence tempers the famously brooding Syrah of Paso Robles. One of the defining elements of this wine — its texture — is the result of aging in incredibly rare and unique tulip-shaped concrete tanks designed by Nico Velo. They are the only tanks like this in the U.S. and they cause the wine to “turn-over” on itself in perpetual motion, creating marvelous textures. Powerful and silky all at once, Booker’s first foray into the Jada Vineyard fits right into their Rhône hit parade.