Based in Paso Robles, Booker Wines is a top-shelf operator with a quirky sensibility. Under the leadership of owner-winemaker Eric Jensen, the winery produces unusual bottlings that bear the winery’s name only in fine print on the back label. Evocative branding positions each of the two wines we’re looking at as unique bottlings, and as our tasting notes will hopefully reveal, they certainly are.
2018 Booker Wines My Favorite Neighbor Cabernet Sauvignon – A Paso Robles-born cabernet, made as an homage to Jensen’s neighbor and mentor, Stephan Asseo of L’Aventure Winery. This is a dense and, as of today’s sampling, still quite tight cabernet, and it surely needs more time in bottle — and perhaps a decanting if you’re drinking it today — to show its charms more fully. With time in glass a spray of classic cab notes emerges, featuring plums and currants, then blackberries and chocolate, all coming quickly to the fore. Rather punchy with a mix of herbal qualities, tannin, and some bright acid on the finish, some licorice candy notes sweeten up the finish and add complexity — but, again, a couple of years in the cellar will help coax out some added character here. A- / $50 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]
2019 Booker Wines Harvey & Harriet – A big cabernet-based blend from organically farmed sites on the westside of Paso Robles, named after Jensen’s parents. Boldly chocolatey but never overtly sweet, this chewy wine pours on notes of black currants, dark cherries, vanilla, and, late in the game, baking spice. A modest tannin gives the wine ample grip, though it never comes across as daunting in its astringency. In the final analysis, the wine presents exactly as it aims to: As an approachable and authentic but affordable expression of cabernet, with some guest stars in the mix, ready to drink now but able to stand a year or two in the cellar, should you be picking this up by the case. Which maybe you should be. A / $30 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]