Red Blend •Paso de Record & Vihuela
California: Paso Robles
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s wine earns this special recognition, as it rises above the already-high standards that we set for all of the wines that we showcase here.
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Mission Codename: Ultimate Fusion
Objective: Return to Vihuela Winery, in Paso Robles, a winery first infiltrated by The Wine Spies in 2007. Secure an ample quantity of their flagship blend, Incendio, for our deserving Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Vihuela Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Incendio
Winemaker: Mike Vihuela
Backgrounder: Paso Robles has long been established as a wine producing region that give other California regions a run for their money. With a climate and soils that make for perfect growing conditions for red wine grapes, it is no wonder. Winemakers in Paso are a somewhat unique breed, often declaring themselves to be the renegades of Cali wine. A blend of 40% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot 20% and 10% Petit Verdot, today’s wine, from Mike Vihuela, is music to the senses.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Deepest burgundy, with perfect clarity through a deepening core. At the edge of the wine, a gorgeous ring of fine ruby encircles the glass. Swirl the wine, and chubby legs form high on the wall of the glass, before they crawl slowly downward.
Smell – Dark cherry juice is the lead note, here, followed by loamy earth, blackberry, dark spice, candied plum and hints of cedar and aged leather.
Feel – Soft and light, on entry, this wine develops a lovely middle-weight feel across the mid-palate. Bright acids support the plush tannins and enhance the flavors. At the tail end, slate and black pepper drive an easy dryness that spreads from the mid-palate, outward.
Taste – Bing cherry, red raspberry, blueberry, cassis and a hint of plum lead the way. Then, soft black pepper and slate ride alongside brown spice, softest oak, earth and hard leather.
Finish – This wine has an exceptionally long finish, with flavors that seem to tail off quickly to a level that is then sustained for a very long time. The wine starts with red fruit, moves to black fruit mixed with minerals and pepper.
Conclusion – This is a fantastic and delicious red blend that delivers on the deep fruit and character that we have come to equate with great wines from Paso Robles. This wine offers up great balance, with the perfect mix of fruit, minerality and spice. With a fantastically long finish and bright acidity, this is a fun wine to enjoy on its own or with a great meal or hard cheeses. Pair with your favorite meats or game and, if you purchase six or more bottles, the included music CD – for the ultimate fusion!
AGENT RED: Greetings, Mike. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Incendio today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MIKE VIHUELA: Thanks, Agent Red. It’s good to be back with you!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MIKE: My passion for wine grew out of an appreciation for the many types of cuisine my mother prepared. She was always trying something new or exotic and that inevitably developed into cooking with wine and pairing wine with each meal.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MIKE: My mentor was Matt Mikulics, he runs the vineyard now and I would describe his style as integrating both European style and American techniques.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MIKE: I haven’t thought about wine reviewers as much as I probably should. My main goal is to make wine that anybody can enjoy with friends and food. The rose-tinted analogy in my head is the Greek Symposiums where wine, food, music, ideas and life in general were intertwined and embraced.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
MIKE: The Incendio wine was crafted as a tribute to the band with the same name. The band is based in LA and they fuse Spanish guitar with a bohemian new age vibe. Given that a Vihuela, besides being the name of my winery, is also a Spanish Guitar it was probably kismet that this collaboration would come to fruition. The blend is Syrah 40%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Merlot 20% and Petit Verdot 10%. Your tasting notes do a better job than I could of describing the depth, character and elegance of the wine, so I’ll stop there :-)
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MIKE: Well, somewhat contrary to my answer below about Vihuela’s wines, I think that Incendio pairs well with medium bodied cheese like dry Jack, light sweet sauces and roasted meats. The earthy quality of the wine really lends itself towards those foods.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Paso Robles region so special?
MIKE: We’re very fortunate to have such wonderful soils, climate and technology at our disposal to make great wine, but I’d say the culture is a huge part of the region. Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo are laid back and the other winemakers that I’ve been fortunate enough to know are great at sharing ideas and techniques.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MIKE: I’ll be honest and say music has occupied more of my time these days. Wine and music are my two passions in life and I’ve been jamming in the studio quite a bit lately. I am however pleased with how the 2008 wines have been maturing in barrel and expect that they’ll be something special. I’ve also been spending time discussing with my vineyard partner on how we can improve the quality of our fruit by modifying some of the irrigation and pruning techniques we use.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
MIKE: I like big wines that are balanced well, so again the pairing is key. Most of my wines pair exceptionally well with heavy cheeses and meats so that’s where I start. I’m also a strong advocate of decanting big reds as well. Even in San Luis Obispo, which is apparently the Happiest Place on Earth according to Oprah, you can get caught up in hustle and bustle so as cliché as it is it’s nice pop open a bottle, take some time to let it breath, bust out the cheese (and the Incendio CD) and chill with some friends.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Vihuela Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Great wine, like the best music, is dependent on the fusion of pre-arranged and random events. The vintner, the grapes, the weather, the soil, the sun ? some factors can be controlled, while others do not manifest until the end of the process. Like jazz improvisation, the end result is a delicate balance of time-honored practice and split-second intuition. Vihuela Winery has preserved the essence of the alchemical art of wine-making with their “Incendio” blend, inspired by their association with international recording artists INCENDIO, who are friends of the winery and have performed there often. Pour yourself a glass, put on the special Vihuela-released trio CD, and travel around the world with Incendio.
Incendio is a medium bodied wine that embodies an elegant fusion of Paso Robles fruit with European style. This wine opens with a violet nose and just a hint of pepper. On the palate the body is characterized by red raspberries and black currants which transitions into a smooth, but bright earthy finish. Incendio pairs exceptionally well with light sweet sauces and medium cheeses like dry Jack as well as roasted game.
Located just north of highway 46 on the eastside, Paso de Record vineyard is home to some of the finest Syrah in San Miguel. Harvested at 27+ brix this intense fruit was allowed to cold soak for 1 day before fermenting. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot were harvested at 25-26 degrees brix and all varietals were fermented using a general purpose Bordeaux yeast strain. This blend was aged in 20% new French and American oak with light toast.
Special Bonus: Included with all orders of six or more bottles is the Incendio Music CD.
International recording artists Incendio have produced this special guitar trio CD in the spirit of the Vihuela. A diversity of acoustic melodies beautifully woven together by JP Durand, Jim Stubblefield and Liza Carbe. From elegant melodies to the passionate title track “Vihuela” this CD is the perfect compliment to your Spanish music collection.
About Vihuela Winery:
Several years ago Matt and his wife would travel to the Central Coast to enjoy the rolling hills, the laid-back attitude and of course, the wines. Through the years Matt developed a greater thirst for the Central Coast and it’s wines than any weekend trip could quench. Following his heart, he enrolled into Fresno State’s Enology program and next thing he knew he had graduated and was working for the likes of Geyser Peak and Rudd in Napa Valley. After several years of saving and searching, he found just the right property for a small vineyard in Templeton, California.
Enter Mike, aka Mike Vihuela. A vihuela can be roughly translated as a Spanish Renaissance Guitar. In addition to big red wines, Mike has always had a fascination with Spanish music. “Rumor” has it that that Mike was raised on a small olive farm off the coast of Spain and at a very early age became enamored with flamenco guitar, practicing for hours on end.
Something about the Spanish guitar stirs the passions much as a spicy Tempranillo or a complex Cabernet Sauvignon. Mr. Vihuela currently focuses on Bordeaux style wines and it is said that “ladies who swoon over his wines, declare that they’re tall, dark and tasty!”
Varietals: Syrah 40%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Merlot 20%, Petit Verdot 10%
Vineyard Sources: Paso Robles, Paso de Record and Vihuela
Release Date: December 2010
Cases Produced: 400