Paul Lato Wines
“Paul Lato is one of the up-and-coming superstars of California’s Central Coast. It appears Lato’s first love is Pinot Noir, and in a few short years he has proven what meticulous/perfectionist techniques can bring from a young man obsessed by wine. His future looks bright and this is one of the wonderful wine stories of the year.”
Paul, a Polish immigrant who originally spent years cutting his teeth as a sommelier in Toronto before moving out to Santa Maria in the early 2000’s with the dream of making his own wine. Paul has worked at Au Bon Climat (The breeding ground for so many great winemakers) and Qupè. Starting with the 2002 vintage, he made a meagre six barrels. He has grown slowly, crafting fewer than 500 total cases of Pinot Noir and Syrah, but gaining a worldwide reputation, and consequently having more and more access to fine vineyards. His distant mentor has been the late and great Henri Jayer of Burgundy and the Chave family of Rhone. Today he sources fruit from some of the choicest vineyards in the Central Coast and his highly-rated bottlings are reserved for top restaurants and his mailing list clientele with each vintage always selling out instantly. Sadly, limited retail distribution. Paul’s philosophies are simple, often repeated by many however, achieved by few – Paul believes that all the greatest wines possess authenticity, harmony, and elegance. These are the qualities he constantly attempts to capture in his wines. The ultimate goal is to create wines that are seamless and textural with enough structure and balance to complement fine cuisine. In order to make wines of the highest calibre, he selects unique vineyards that are cared for by talented vineyard managers committed to absolute excellence. He strives to locate and source from not only the best vineyards but the best blocks within each of these vineyards.
During the growing season, yields are restricted to achieve maximum concentration of flavor. Harvest is based on physiological ripeness, which changes depending on the vintage characteristics. Cellar work is based on minimal intervention, cleanliness and purity of intention. With due respect to science, Paul believes that true artisanal winemaking is based on intuition, sensitivity and passion. Keeping the lots small allows for gentle handling throughout the winemaking process. Above all, Paul wants his wines to give pleasure and keep your palate interested until the last drop from the bottle.
"I will declare these three are the best us wines I have sampled this year."
I was fortunate enough to sample three of Paul’s wines (amongst many other US wines) during October. In short, Paul’s wines stood head and shoulders above the crowd. In fact, I will declare these three are the best US wines I have sampled this year. His Syrah is utterly sensational - I do not posses one Australian Shiraz that comes close (That is a significant statement given the sheer depth of Aussie Shiraz). I cannot recommend Paul’s wine enough and sadly have very little to offer. We were offered an allocation of 24 bottles of each, which is rather pitiful however, given the extraordinary quality, impossible to resist. We have prepared a three pack case (one of each bottle) and I urge you to grab one quickly as I fear these will be heading to our clients in Hong Kong before long.
2015 Chardonnay ‘Le Souvenir’
98 Points Jeb Dunnuck “Showing a touch more oak (it was brought up in 70% new barrels), the 2015 Chardonnay le Souvenir Sierra Madre Vineyard offers classic notes of white peach, pineapple and buttered stone fruits intermixed with spice and hints of toasted nuts. It's ripe, beautifully textured and full-bodied on the palate offering tons of richness and depth as well as a great finish.
2015 Pinot Noir 'Atticus'
95+ Points Jeb Dunnuck “From a site on the eastern edge of the Sta. Rita Hills, the 2015 Pinot Noir Atticus John Sebastiano Vineyard spent 15 months in 75% new French oak. It's vibrant ruby color is followed by notes of blackberries, raspberries, smoked earth, ground herbs and hints of minerality. It's one of the larger framed, riper wines from Paul, yet in this vintage, it stays beautifully focused, tight and pure. It has the balance and texture to shine today, but it will be better with a year or two of bottle age”
2014 Syrah 'Il Padrino'
97-100 Points Jeb Dunnuck “Not yet bottled yet tasted as a final blend, the 2015 Syrah Il Padrino is another killer wine from this estate that will flirt with (or achieve) perfection. Coming 100% from the Bien Nacido vineyard in Santa Maria, it was fermented in stainless steel and spent 20 months in 80% new French oak. Black fruits, bacon fat, tapenade and smoke all flow to a concentrated, incredibly seamless, silky Syrah that has no hard edges, fine, elegant tannin and a great, great finish. It's up with the finest examples of this cuvée to date”