Featured Wine – Barrel 27, 2012 “Head Honcho” Syrah, Paso Robles ($29.99)

The Region
Paso wine mapPaso Robles, I feel safe in saying, is the envy of many of California’s wine regions (click map at right to see larger image on Wine Folly).  With a relatively unified group of owners (admittedly, winery owners tend to be only slightly more in synch than a litter of kittens) supporting some impressive marketing efforts on behalf of the region, the area has built upon the Sideways phenomenon of a decade ago and enjoyed annual growth in tourism, grape production, and quality (and prices!) ever since.  If you haven’t already seen their tongue-in-cheek online ads, you really should take a peek at this video introduction to the region’s best-known varieties (just one of many – search Youtube for Paso Wine Man to see them all).

 
The Producer
MacMcPrice Myers (Mac) is a big man with a big reputation. Mac fell in love with wine during his early twenties while working at Trader Joe’s. He began sampling their wines and soon developed a taste for more upscale wines during frequent tasting trips in the Central Coast. He soon became a volunteer cellar rat during harvest at a number of notable wineries. He learned more and more with each passing vintage, and in 2002 he produced his very own wine for the first time.  
 
Here’s the thing – my (now defunct) wine bar opened in 2006, and in those four short years Myers solidified his reputation as a producer of thrilling wines of great value.  He came out of the gate to great acclaim, and the shine on his reputation has yet to tarnish!
 
The Wine
Head Honcho labelThe grapes spent their first 3-5 days after picking in a cold soak, a technique that helps preserve the higher-toned aromatics you’ll find here.  A third of the grapes were fermented as whole clusters, adding some character from the ripe seeds and stems.  After fermentation, the wine spent 22 months in barrel, half of which were new.
 
The finished wine is true to its old form – a wine showing deep dark notes of black berries, ground black pepper, olive, and smoky plum topped by higher-toned notes of cassis, violet, lavender candy and a lifted finish full of sweet and exotic spices.  Back at my wine bar, Head Honcho was a best seller, month after month.  Go get a couple of glasses and a corkscrew – you’re about to find out why.
 
Pair with big, full-flavored foods, osso-buco or other braised meats, winter stews, and smoked gouda, grilled meats, or on its own, now through 2019.

Head Honcho newBUYERS TAKE NOTE: 
This is the last vintage of Head Honcho under the Barrel 27 lable.  Beginning with the 2013 vintage, HH moves to the McPrice Myers label, under what he calls the “Blue Collar Series” (Right), where it enjoys a price tag some 5 bucks higher than this vintage.  
 

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