2017 Law Estate, Beyond Category by Law, Red Wine, Paso Robles.
The Beyond Category by Law Red is almost jet black inky purple and powerfully intense on the palate with fantastic layers of black and red fruits and it follows the top modern red wines from this region in its quality and ability to thrill the senses with its deep blackberry, boysenberry, currant jelly, kirsch and blueberry fruit core along with heady black flowers, minty herb, anise and spicy accents along with a framing of sweet toasty wood. The 2017 Beyond Category is a Rioja inspired blend of 48% Tempranillo, 26% Graciano, 20% Grenache and 6% Carignan all of which come alive with air on the full bodied palate adding juicy pomegranate, espresso bean, coco and Provencal herbs and lavender in a most impressive way. Recently German winemaker Philipp Pfunder joined Law and is now making his mark on the wines, but staying within the style set by Law’s influential long time wine consultant Scott Hawley. Philipp, originally from Munich, comes to Law with a dynamite resume, having worked at some incredible places such as Kumeu River, and Dry River, both Kiwi legends, as well as Château Angélus in Saint Émilion, one of the greatest Bordeaux estates and the iconic Screaming Eagle in Napa Valley. Philipp, like many European winemakers, knew that Paso Robles was where he wanted to be and he has enjoyed a smooth transition into the top spot here after a brief spell alongside, as mentioned, Law’s inaugural winemaker, Scott Hawley who has a vast wealth of experience with the fruit and vineyards here. Law has an amazing winemaking facility that is all a gravity-fed winery and uses cool concrete for primary fermentation with extended lees aging in French oak, which is anywhere between 30 to 75% new depending on the vintage and varietal, all of which gives these wines their incredible mouth feel and lavish character without taking away anything from the expression of the grapes and place.
I first discovered Law back in about 2012 with the release of their first wines and I was blown away with their set of 2010 vintage reds which I found at the Family Winemakers tasting in San Francisco. Law Estate was born to compete with Saxum, Booker, Epoch and L’ Aventure for top honors in the western hills of Paso Robles, and was founded by Don and Susie Law, who planted a glorious hillside vineyard located above Peachy Canyon Road, it sits between 1,600 and 1,900 Feet up on chalky limestone soils. Originally it was mostly Syrah and Grenache, but has grown significantly with some Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre, Carignan, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot, along with that Graciano, which interestingly was mistakenly thought to be a Monastrell clone of Mourvedre, but much loved now. The Law’s also have a few white grapes that include Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Clairette that are usually co-fermented into their red wines. The Law’s hired Scott Hawley, who’s own Torrin winery is ultra premium small lot label that is highly regarded, with wines that are similarly awesome, to be their winemaker and leader, a decision that has paid off big time, as he has brought lots of critical acclaim to the estate and set the label on a course to skyrocket in quality with his attention to detail and organic farming focus. Law looks to continue their rise with Pfunder at the winemaking helm and these 2017s are a great start. Intriguing, to me, is the success of Tempranillo in the Paso area, where it has found success here as well as at Booker and Epoch, joining it too is the other Rioja grape, Graciano along with the Basque Tannat and lesser known Bordeaux varietal Petit Verdot all finding a welcome home here, more known for Rhone blends. Be sure to check out Law Estate, these 2017s are absolutely luxurious and profound offerings, especially this Beyond Category red, which is one of the best California Rioja style blends I’ve tried!
($78 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive