Niner Wine Estates: Paso Robles reds gain notice

The Niner Wine Estate Hospitality Center.

Niner Wine Estate Hospitality Center. (Image courtesy of ninerwine.com.)

Niner Wine Estates produces reds that are sleek and pure with complex flavors and tannins that caress the palate.

They are grown at the Niner family’s three estate vineyards in the Paso Robles area midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Jim Lutfy, who sells them at Fine Wine Source in Livonia, says they “overachieve. They really deliver a lot of flavor.”

Last winter, the Niner Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Fog Catcher Bordeaux blend beat out packed fields to win “Best of Class” honors in their categories at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

The winery was founded in 2001 by Dick and Pam Niner, and today is managed by son Andy. The winemaker is Patrick Muran. They have three estate vineyards — Bootjack Ranch on the eastern side of the Paso Robles AVA, Heart Hill Vineyard on the western side, and Jespersen Vineyard in the Edna Valley AVA to the south. They all are within 30 miles of each other and have distinct microclimates.

Reached at the winery this week, Andy Niner commented it was tough the first few vintages to do all-estate fruit. Things fell into place by the 10th or 11th vintage, he said. “We are all about quality,” he said.

Bootjack and Heart Hill are certified sustainable, and Jespersen is expected to be this year. The winery is LEED-Silver certified. The gravity-flow cellar is state-of-the art.

AVAILABILITY: The wines are sold at Fine Wine Source in Livonia. Your Michigan retailer can order wines12MAPR_size_1[1] through the wholesaler, Alliance Beverage in Grand Rapids. They are also sold on the Niner Web site.

Here’s a taste:

Niner Estate Malbec Paso Robles 2012, $30

Exciting: A Malbec, supported by trace amounts of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This is an intense, stylish monster with fruit you can cut with a knife, with French oak styling, with silky tannins and firm acidity, and with body. It’s produced off Niner Estate’s Bootjack Vineyard on the eastern side of Paso Robles, where the terrain is either flat with soils of high lime content or giant hilly sand dunes. Temperatures fluctuate from the 90s by day down to the 40s at night. Inhale the aromas and it’s more like an essence or liqueur than a wine. This is seriously hedonistic stuff. Think how much more it will develop with cellaring. Pour this baby blind for your wine geek friends.

Niner Estate Syrah, Paso Robles 2012, $30

The Mediterranean climate in Paso can ripen reds so gloriously. The Syrah is dense, dark as midnight, packed with flavor. Aromas of gorgeous blue fruit (berries), black pepper and brown cooking spices are infused with the smoke and cedar of oak barrels. In the mouth, it’s still youthful and zipped up tight with glimpses of the berried, dark chocolate, vanilla flavors framed by firm acidity and supple tannins. This wine would be a candidate for decanting and should be interesting if any bottles stay around long enough to age. It has beautiful body with full-throttle alcohol at 14.8 percent. It was aged 19 months in barrel. Impressive.

You can reach Sandra Silfven at ssilfven@Hotmail.com.