Paul Gordon’s Halcón Vineyards were planted in 2006/07 at 2500+ feet above sea level in Mendocino’s remote, and windswept, cool clime Yorkville Highlands. Situated on a band of ancient uplifted ocean bed of fractured schist shale, mica-schist and silicate-rich rock; extremely similar to the blonde schist of the Côte-Rôtie in the Northern Rhone Valley of France, this gorgeous 2017 Alturas displays some of the same similarities with wine produced from this heralded region. Co-pigmented/fermented with the traditional smidgen of Viognier (3%), there is a wonderful violet-floral, spicy crushed peppercorn aroma mingling with the “red and purple fruits of the loom”. Perfectly ripened with crunchy fresh acidity adding to the balance, delightful to drink now, but more magic should appear with a few more years in the cellar.
“Following a very typical mid-April budbreak and moderate temps during the spring and early summer, we experienced some very high temperatures over Labor Day weekend. The altitude of our vineyard tempered the highs (we never exceeded 100F) but the heat was enough to temporarily shut down the vines. Fortunately we had just completed veraison, giving the vines ample time to recover and continue fruit development. We picked very mature Syrah fruit on October 4th – the seeds very dark, the pulp had saturated color and there were highly lignified stems. All this at lower sugars, leading to a finish alcohol of 12.7% We again utilized 50% whole-cluster and aged in 90% neutral oak with just a single new French puncheon. 3% estate Viognier was co-fermented.
The 2017 vintage at Halcón has a close analogy to 2014. Both had moderate yields, slightly low sugars and good acid spine. Compared to the last two vintages this version of Alturas is a slightly less savory but has very bright, forward red fruits. There is great complexity and lots of stony minerality. It is drinking well straight out of the gate.” – Winery notes.