Grenache and Syrah have been our windmills for a few decades. We’ve traveled all over California in search of gold like argonauts of old. Or a better image, like Don Quixote we’ve suited up, jumped on our steads, set our eyesights to the horizon and charged. Our search almost ended in 2017, until we met another crazy who also chased windmills going full tilt, no let up. This brave man is Connor McMahon who planted his Rhone varieties garden, Fulldraw Vineyard, in the hills of West Paso. 2020 was an excellent vintage for this appellation. We made eight barrels, our only red wine from 2020.
Located on the westside of Paso Robles, the Fulldraw vineyard is a 100-acre site in the Templeton Gap. When Connor McMahon planted his vineyard, he understood that the site, with its unique soil and cooling maritime influences, would be a place where the Rhone varietals would thrive. The soil is very high in limestone (Lopez-Calodo) and deep. This is a rare soil type and Grenache and Syrah thrive here. The Grenache Clone is 136, and planted on a 420A rootstock. It is north facing, sloped 20 degrees, and drains like a sieve. The Syrah Clone is Alban on 1103P from blocks 10A and 9D. Block 10A is a North faced slope pitched at about 35 degrees so very steep. This helps with almost no water retention so the vines struggle, giving off powerful fruit. Block 9D is an East faced slope that is gradual and stays out of a lot of direct sunlight. This allows for extended hang time and very complex flavors which brings subtle, but impactful, changes to blends.
The final blend we found best is a classic Rhone composition: 59% Grenache, 28% Syrah, and 13% Mourvedre. The Syrah was aged in 50-60% new French oak Francois Freres, Seguin and Ermitage barrels for 16 months. We like a good amount of whole cluster fermentation with Grenache- here we are north of 60% aged in similar barrels as the Syrah but a lower percentage of new wood, right around 30%.
Winemaker’s Tasting Notes
Our 2020 Chasing Windmills shows the plushness and abundance of sweet fruit that you come to expect from Grenache-based wines from Paso Robles. This is seamless from front to back with a tremendous mid-palate richness to it, while also balanced, silky, and graceful. Packed with loads of red and black fruits like boysenberry, blackberry, red currant, and cherry with hints of smoked meat, black pepper, and cedar. This wine is extremely approachable now, but will sail for several years in the cellar.