We are entering the darkest part of the winter season, which means it is time to pull out some deep reds and hang by the fireplace for more than a few hours while the snow/ice/wind do their thing outdoors. Which brings us to this particular trio of wines. Set alongside the west side of Paso Robles, Halter Ranch has been putting out almost two dozen varietals for over two decades, but this appears to be the first time we’ve had the opportunity to formally review their output.
2020 Halter Ranch Ancestor – A blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Petit Verdot, and 20% Malbec that is big and burly right from the onset, with notes of blackberry and cassis that segue gracefully into dark chocolate and currant on the palate. The tannins are well-integrated and bring to the forefront the influence of the oak where this wine aged for 16 months. It’s a shame I didn’t receive this before the publication of our Top 10 Wines for Winter 2024 list, as Ancestor’s inclusion would have been a no-brainer. This could be an absolute crowd-pleaser at a swank holiday obligation with friends or family, but I couldn’t tell you for certain: the bottle was empty before I knew it. A / $85
2019 Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon – Another blend, this time comprising 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot. A less burly wine than its Ancestor sibling, with lively notes of black cherry, raspberry and milk chocolate up front tempered with a slight touch of graphite as it unfolds in the glass. The palate is where this truly shines and delivers, unfolding with layer after layer of dark fruit, chocolate, and a slight hint of oak for nuance. It’s one worth cellaring for a few more years, but this is certainly ready to be enjoyed immediately. A- / $65
2020 Halter Ranch CDP – And now for something completely different: a blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 13% Mourvèdre, and 2% Tannat. This may be a detour from already travelled roads here, but it is certainly a welcome one. Light aromas of cherry, vanilla, and strawberry transition to a palate of pomegranate, baking spice, and a lingering note of toffee on the finish. It certainly stands on its own two feet while consumed solo, but really shines when paired with a generous portion of grilled meat. B+ / $55