While there is no shortage of meticulously crafted ultra-premium wine in California the offerings of Law Estate Wines have managed to continuously set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. Using the medium of their picturesque estate vineyards in the Adelaida district of West Paso Robles the Law team has put together an unbelievable lineup of tremendously compelling old world inspired blends. Theirs are wines of both power and finesse, somehow managing to possess the hallmark ripeness of the warm Paso Robles sunshine while maintaining a sense of balance and delicate restraint only found in world's most classic regions. After getting a small taste of these spectacular wines and being blown away by their remarkable poise and polish we decided to pay a visit to Law for ourselves to better comprehend the work of this exceptional winery.
In order to understand the wines of any producer it is essential to first dig into what is going on in their vineyards. Law Estate Wines, as the name suggests, crafts wine solely using fruit grown and harvested from within their 80 acres of estate vineyards located throughout their sprawling 350 acre property. The extremely steep and mountainous terrain of the estate has naturally limited plantings to only the most ideal vineyard sites, which are primarily hillsides with favorable exposure and a reasonably manageable aspect. Soils throughout the property are rich in precious calcareous shale, commonly referred to as limestone, that has proven to be ideal the world around for high quality wine production. Although vines were only first planted here in 2008 and are still working to reach maturity they are already producing tremendously complex and concentrated fruit, largely thanks to deliberately contentious organic farming combined with the natural potential of the property.
The vineyards of Law Estate Wines are planted to a unique and diverse range of grape varieties. Rhone grapes such as Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre make up the primary portion of the planted acreage, followed by Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. There is a mix of white-skinned grapes of Rhone origin present including Roussane, Marsanne, and Clairette Blanche, and notable plantings of popular Spanish black-skinned grape varieties such as Tempranillo and Graciano have proven to grow exceptionally well on the property. The wide breadth of varieties available has turned out to be extremely advantageous in allowing the Law team flexibility in shaping their wines. Ultimately Law's blend styles range from traditional, such as their GSM blend dubbed "Sagacious", to creative and exploratory like their Rhone/Bordeaux mash-up aptly named "Audacious". Each of their unique bottlings is aimed at expressing a particular character trait of the estate while often drawing inspiration from the blends of legendary European wine regions.
Like the rest of their property the production facility and winemaking team of Law Estate Wines are absolutely top-notch. The production facility is modern, highly functional, and immaculately kept. It employs the use of nifty technologically advanced equipment and an overall design that serves to increase the precision with which wines can be molded. Production is led by German-born winemaker Phil Pfunder who happens to be a relatively recent transplant to Paso Robles. He brought with him his extensive experience making wine all over the globe, including at storied houses such as Chateau Angelus and Screaming Eagle, and his influence imparts a sense of classic restraint and delicate refinement that is clearly visible even in some of Law's bigger and more broad shouldered wines. We were fortunate to have been accompanied by Phil himself on our visit and enjoyed seeing his wonderful passion and intentionality spill out as he guided us around the estate.
In the cellar the Law winemaking team chooses to apply a mix of classic and modern techniques. Fermentation is always allowed to occur naturally using only native yeast and typically takes place in large temperature controlled concrete tanks. Pre-fermentation cold soaks and post-fermentation extended maceration are often utilized for red wines to maximize influence from the grape skins and add additional depth, texture, and color. After extended maceration is complete red wines are racked off the skins and transported by gravity into barrels of various sizes, usually made up of somewhere between 30-75% new oak depending on the wine, and are aged sur-lie for approximately 2 years before being bottled without fining or filtration. Wines are typically released after receiving a full year of bottle age.
As well executed as the vineyards and production facility of Law Estate Wines are it is the tasting room that might be the most breathtaking. This gorgeous modern structure was constructed at the crest of one of the property's idyllic hills and its glass-laden construction offers nearly 360 degrees of postcard views. It is here that Law offers their guests a terrific seated tasting experience that is available by appointment only. The tasting typically begins with a welcome pour of a rosé, which is deliciously fresh and mineral driven, and then moves through one white wine and a series of reds. The wines themselves are all extremely impressive and showcase a common thread of power, poise, and elegance. While each wine we sampled on our visit was delicious it was Law's "Beyond Category" bottling that was likely the highlight of our experience. This Tempranillo-based blend was complex, authentic, and remarkably charming with a profile that stood out for its unique varietal character in comparison to many of the region's Rhone and Bordeaux style blends.
For those looking for an ultra-premium wine tasting experience in Paso Robles there is no better option than Law Estate Wines. They are simply unrivaled in the overall scope, breadth, and execution of their vision. We could exhaust ourselves rattling off one superlative after another and it would still be difficult to do justice to this exemplary estate. Do yourself a favor and make sure to carve out time to visit Law on your next Paso Robles trip - we guarantee you won't regret it.
Many thanks to Phil and the wonderful Law team for hosting us; it was an experience we will not soon forget.