Paul Lato

Owner(s) Paul Lato
Web site www.paullatowines.com
 
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Paul Lato

Paul Lato is a Polish-born professionally trained and educated sommelier who first visited California's Central Coast in 1996 on the invitation of Au Bon climat's Jim Clendenen. Clendenen told him, "You don't need to read any more wine books. Just come out and work for me one harvest and you will understand how this works." After three months with Clendenen, he returned to Canada where he was a sommelier for Toronto's best restaurant, and worked for six more years in the wine trade until he was ready to make a permanent move.

In 2002, he decided to follow his dream to make wine and returned to California's Central Coast. He brought all his savings (which wasn't much), and his life folded into two suitcases. He had plenty of passion, a little craziness, and considerable innocence, convinced he could actually become a successful winemaker.

Bob Miller, the late co-owner of Bien Nacido Vineyards, gave Paul a job as a $10-an-hour cellar rat, and let him stay for free in a bunkhouse at the vineyard. Miller also encouraged Paul to make his own wines. During the long harvest days, he watched many experienced winemakers at work and asked many questions.

Starting with the 2002 vintage, he made six barrels of wine. By chance he met Robert Parker who said, "I hear you are this sommelier who makes wine. I want to taste it." Paul sheepishly told him he had only three barrels of Pinot Noir and three barrels of Syrah. Parker said, "You are starting with the hardest grapes to vinify. But don't worry about it. I'm a wine taster and I taste everything. But, if its shit, I'm going to tell you."

Parker was impressed with the wines and as he jotted down notes in his black book, he asked Paul, "What is the name of the winery?" Paul said he had not decided. Parker responded, "You have a tremendous talent. Hurry up with the name, because I want to be the first one to write about your wines." To this day, Paul says, "If I live another 100 years, I will never forget that. It brought tears to my eyes."

He has grown slowly, crafting under 500 total cases of Pinot Noir and Syrah, but gaining a reputation, and consequently having more and more access to fine vineyards. His distant mentor has been the late Henri Jayer of Burgundy and the Chave family of Rhone, and admires the older style of Williams Selyem wines as well. He found the road to success to be brutally hard, but without Parker's blessing of the first vintage, he might not have survived.

The first year, he stayed in several friends' places, and one friend invited him to live in his house, knowing he had no money for rent. In one of his darkest moments, a helpful call came from Thomas Keller, who said he loved Paul's wine and wanted it for the French Laundry. Somewhere along the way, he also discovered the writings of Joseph Campbell, and took to heart his reassurance that pursuing what you love is what matters most in life. Throughout his first ten years, many people gave him a helping hand when he needed it most. Many days he had enough gas to get to work, but not enough to drive back home. And every time, someone would show up and ask to buy a bottle or two of my wine. Paul's independent spirit forbade him from taking on investors.

Paul tastes with Parker annually and he found him to be a great taster with an incredible sense of humor. "As a critic, he wants to bring new stars up, rather than break established ones."

Paul Lato wines are sold through a mailing list with very limited retail distribution. He is not as well-known now as he should be, but very knowledgeable pinotphiles, including myself, sing his praises. His Pinot Noirs are sourced from several premium vineyards, including Gold Coast, Fiddlestix Vineyard, Solomon Hills, Zotovich, and Pisoni.

Paul is aiming for an ultimate production of 2500 cases annually. At some point, he would like to have an estate vineyard.

Reviewed Wines

2012 Paul Lato “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $65. Unfiltered. · Moderate deep red color in the glass. Initially very smoky on the nose and palate, fading over time in the glass. The aromas of black raspberry, cherry and strawberry are accented with a hint of Moroccan spice and smoke. Light to mid weight flavors of dark cherries and raspberries with a slight smoky undertone. The tannins are very suave, the wine is easy to drink, and there is an appealing cherry note on the moderately long finish. The following day when tasted from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was somewhat stemmy and herbal. I tried to like this wine, and revisited it several times, but it did not offer as much pleasure as I would like. Score: 89. Reviewed August 25, 2014 ARTICLE »

2012 Paul Lato “Atticus” John Sebastiano Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $70. Unfiltered. · Moderate Bing cherry color in the glass. The scent of fresh berries is long and persistent and the slightest oak adds a compliment. Soft as an angel’s hair and very plush on the palate with mid weight plus flavors of spiced dark raspberry and blueberry. Oak provides just the right amount of seasoning, and the finish has some respectable length. The texture really stands out in this wine. Score: 91. Reviewed August 25, 2014 ARTICLE »

2012 Paul Lato “Happiness” Hilliard Bruce Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $70. Unfiltered. · Dark reddish purple color with a garnet rim in the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of dark stone and berry fruits. Mid+ weight fruit core of blackberry, black grape and black currant flavors. A bit rustic, beefy and earthy, with modest tannins and some finishing length. The most robust and darkest fruited of the Paul Lato wines tasted on this day. Score: 91. Reviewed August 25, 2014 ARTICLE »

2012 Paul Lato “Seabiscuit” Zotovich Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $75. Unfiltered. · Moderately dark purple color in the glass. This wine is blessed with effusive aromas of cherry, plum, and a lash of oak vanillin. The charge of fruit is delicious with flavors of dark cherry pie glaze, Hoison sauce, and clove. Noticeable polish and balance with dry, sandy tannins creating textural interest. The amazing burst of fruit on the finish lasts and lasts and sealed the deal for me. Score: 93. Reviewed August 25, 2014 ARTICLE »

2012 Paul Lato Pisoni Vineyard “Lancelot” Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $85. Unfiltered. · Moderate red color with purple highlights in the glass. Wines from this vineyard are usually broad shouldered but this offering is suave and modest in weight with aromas and flavors of cherry, raspberry and pomegranate. The wine is well-crafted with balanced tannins, a dreamy texture and some finishing burst of cherry fruit. My only nit is that the finish is slightly hot. After a day, the wine was much more expressive indicating it has a way to go to fully reveal itself. Give this wine another year or two in the cellar. Score: 91. Reviewed August 25, 2014 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “le Souvenir” Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

14.3% alc., 250 cases, 60. 14-year-old Wente clone. 100% malolactic fermentation. Aged in 66% new French oak barrels. · Light golden straw color and clear in the glass.The nose is both floral and fruity featuring aromas of lemon, apple and blossoms. Delicate, but pleasing flavors of citrus, almond, vanilla, with bright acidity and a bone dry finish. Score: 90. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 75 cases, $60. Own-rooted Martini clone, old vines. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is classic Pinot Noir with aromas of griotte, raspberry, forest floor and rose petal. Flavors of purple grapes and plums drive the moderately sappy core, framed by gentle tannins and good acidity. Elegant and soft on the palate, with a juicy finish. Score: 90. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “The Prospect” Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 100 cases, $60. Dijon clones 115 and 667. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Beautifully perfumed with aromas of grapes, plums, forest floor and rose petals. Big-boned and flashy, with a sappy core of black plum and black currant fruit. Velvety with nicely balanced tannins and a big, and I mean big, finish. I really liked this wine. Score: 93. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “Atticus” John Sebastiano Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 125 cases, $65. Unfiltered. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Redder fruits are featured on the nose with hints of cardamom spice and earth. Relatively light and delicate, with shy flavors of dark red and purple fruits with a hint of oak. Seamless with a pleasing tangy cherry drop finish. Doesn’t excite initially, but offers more gifts over time in the glass. This is a wine that is still somewhat closed and needs patience. Score: 88. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “East of Eden” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay

14.5% alc., 100 cases, $65. Mostly Wente clone. 50% malolactic fermentation. Filtered. Aged in 75% new French oak barrels. · Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Very aromatically enticing with scents of lemon curd, baked apple, and Acacia blossom. Bright and crisp on the palate, offering flavors of citrus, baked pear, and vanilla with an underlying sea-brine minerality. A big, flamboyant wine, yet beautifully balanced. Score: 94. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “C’est la Vie” Wenzlau Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 125 cases, $70. Clones 115, 667 and 2A. Vineyard is adjacent Sea Smoke. Only vintage. Unfiltered. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very pretty perfume of fresh black raspberry jam and rose petals. Juicy with good grip on the palate, featuring flavors of dark berries and plums with a smoky undertone. The signature Paul Lato silkiness is evident. Score: 88. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “C’est la Vie” Wenzlau Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 125 cases, $70. Clones 115, 667 and 2A. Unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. This wine needs plenty of coaxing to reveal aromas of dark red cherries and berries, clove and oak spice. The leanest wine in the lineup with flavors of tarry dark cherries and raspberries. The fruit is caressed by soft tannins and underlain with a racy vein of acidity. Well-crafted, but doesn’t quite deliver the goods yet. Score: 88. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “Seabiscuit” Zotovich Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 100 cases, $70. Dijon clones 115 and 113. Unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry and spice lead to a core of pleasing dark stone and berry fruits with an earthy underpinning. Satisfying and elegant with modest fine-grain tannins. Definitely needs more time in bottle. Score: 90. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “Seabiscuit” Zotovich Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 100 cases, $70. Dijon clones 115 and 113. Unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Enticing aromas of fresh cherry pie glaze, raspberry jam, white pepper, oak and earth. Very soft in the mouth, with discreetly concentrated flavors of perfectly ripe black cherries wrapped in supple tannins. A juicy, charming wine that is the epitome of finesse. Score: 90. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “Suerte” Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 175 cases, $70. 50% 115, 30% 667, 20% 777. 70% new French oak barrels. Unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Always one of my favorite Paul Lato Pinot Noirs and this vintage is no exception. The nose is quite shy, but aromas of black cherries and spice emerge with coaxing. The plush and creamy palate features intensely flavored blueberries and dark stone fruits wrapped in modest tannins. A sexy, wondrous wine that finishes with uncommon length and generosity and mouthwatering acidity. The wine shows amazing fortitude so soon after bottling. Score: 94. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “Lancelot” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 125 cases, $85. Own-rooted Burgundy clone over 30 years old. 100% new French oak barrels. Unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. Shy aromas of purple fruits and oak. Recognizably Pisoni, with muscular tannins and layers of copious dark fruit, yet offers a pleasing satiny mouth feel and admirable finesse. Needs time to integrate the oak and tannin, but this is one, big rich pussycat. Score: 93. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Paul Lato “Lancelot” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.9% alc., 125 cases, $85. Own-rooted Burgundy clone over 30 years old. 100% new French oak barrels. Unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. A dreamy nose featuring bright aromas of black raspberry jam, violets and biscuit. Really delicious and highly expressive on the palate, with unctuous layers of dark red and black fruits, subtle oak spice, and a hearty savory note. The wine sports admirable balance of tamed tannins and juicy acidity. Finishes with an explosion of fruit goodness. Professional grade Pinot. Score: 93. Reviewed September 29, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Paul Lato “”Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 75 cases, $60. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. A feminine perfume of ripe Queen Anne cherries with an exotic array of spices. Stunning entry, with delicious dark cherry, black raspberry, ripe strawberry, stem and white chocolate flavors, enriched by lively acidity and framed by soft, rich tannins. Amazing fruit clarity and intensity. The most expressive wine immediately upon opening among those tasted at this session. Plenty of pinotosity at work. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Paul Lato “Atticus” John Sebastiano Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 125 cases, $65. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Masses of perfume emerge over time in the glass revealing scents of perfectly ripe dark berries, black currants, wood shed and spice. Mouthfilling flavors of blackberries and black plums with an earthy undertone, expanding in the mouth and lingering long and stout on the finish. Very silky on the palate with suave tannins. A harmonious wine with a fruit core that is extremely pure and vivid. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Paul Lato “Seabiscuit” Zotovich Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 75 cases, $65. · Dark reddish-purple robe in the glass. Glorious aromas of dark red and black stone fruits and dark strawberries, with hints of spice, red rose petals, and forest floor. Intense and sappy on the palate with luscious black cherry and blackberry flavors, lifted by bright acidity and complimented by ripe tannins. The fruit intensity is stunning but not jammy, and beholds an intensity that lasts and lasts on the peacock tail finish. A thoroughbred. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Paul Lato “Alegria” Hilliard-Bruce Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 75 cases, $70. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very expressive nose, offering hi-tone aromas of berry tart, dried rose petals, malt and vanilla. Moderately flush with well-ripened dark red and black berries including ollaliberries, with an accent of new oak and an earthy underbody. Smooth and seamless and quite enticing, although not quite as expressive as the other wines in this vintage. Very good. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Paul Lato “Suerte” Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 150 cases, $70. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose is brooding initially, opening over time to reveal very appealing aromas of spiced berry cake, forest floor and cedary oak. Moderately rich core of dark cherry, berry and plum flavors with a hint of oak vanillin. Think sweet blackberries with fresh cream. Gathers intensity and interest over time in the glass, reaching a state of flamboyance that is striking. Seamless, with well-managed fine grain tannins and integrated acidity. Finishes long and scented. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was even better, continuing to pump out the pleasure at a welcome pace. My favorite by a hair among the five wines reviewed here. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Paul Lato Wines Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

3 Liter! · Remarkable elegance for a Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir with juicy, perfectly ripe black plum aromas and flavors caressed by very lacy tannins. I called it “Pisoni unplugged.” Exceptional. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Paul Lato “Le Souvenir” Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

14.5% alc., pH 3.35, 200 cases, $55. Sourced from 6 acres of the choicest part of the vineyard. The vines are low-yielding Old Wente clone picked at 23.5º brix. Native and inoculated yeast. 100% barrel fermented, 100% malolactic conversion in 66% new Francois Freres and Damy French oak barrels. Gently fined and unfiltered. · Light yellow color in the glass. Expressive nose of Asian pears, green apples, and brioche. Crisp and bright flavors of pears and citrus fruits with subtle notes of biscuit and vanillin. Beautiful harmony and finesse. Reviewed March 13, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Paul Lato “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 100 cases, $60. Paul says it is crucial to know when to pick this vineyard and fortunately he has nine vintages of experience in managing his vineyard block. The grapes are from 21 year-old own-rooted Martini clone. Yields are 2 tons per acre. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. · My notes say, “Amazing” twice, both in the aromatic and flavor descriptives. Alluring scent of fresh plums flush with spice. Red and black stone fruits with impressive presence and length on the finish. Just the right amount of oak spice influence to augment the fruit spice. No one does old vine Martini like Paul. Reviewed March 13, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Paul Lato “Seabiscuit” Zotovich Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 75 cases, $65. This vineyard is located near Melville on Hwy 246. Previously the vineyard was neglected, but the new owners have brought on Jeff Newton to bring it up to speed. The wine’s name reflects this, with Seabiscuit referring to the great horse that was initially mismanaged. 50% clone 113 and 50% clone 115 planted in shallow sandy soils. Picked at 24º brix. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. · Lovely dark berry melange on the nose with a spice box high note. Luscious core of blackberry and black raspberry fruit with a vivid mineral lift and impressive persistence on the finish. Still has plenty of tannin on board that will integrate with time. Paul is just getting to know this vineyard, yet his inaugural take is distinctive. Reviewed March 13, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Paul Lato “Suerte” Solomon Hills Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 200 cases, $65. Paul has sourced this vineyard since 2005 and has gradually upgraded his sections to obtain the best parcels. His vines are stunted and only yield a little over 1 ton per acre. Clones 115, 667 and a tiny amount of 777 (“777 is like garlic, you can only use a little”). Aged in 70% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark color in the glass. Heavenly scent of fresh plums and blackberries echoed on the palate. Earthy and savory too, with plenty of Santa Maria spice. Smooth as a baby’s bottom with gossamer tannins. Hard to believe this wine is already so good to drink. Reviewed March 13, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Paul Lato “Alegria” Hilliard-Bruce Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 100 cases, $70. This vineyard is located on Hwy 246 4.5 miles west of Zotovich Vineyard and just west of Clos Pepe Vineyard. This is the first close-planted vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills and is managed by noted Central Coast viticulturist Jeff Newton. Owner John Hilliard is fanatical about meticulous farming and this is one of the most manicured vineyards in California. The 21-acre vineyard was planted over three years beginning in 2005 to Dijon clones 115, 667, 777 and 828, Pommard clone, and Calera selection. This wine contains primarily clone 115 with a tiny amount of 667. Paul says the incoming grapes were perfect and didn’t require sorting (“Like a well-kept woman”). Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. · Demure aromatics showing darker well-spiced cherry, berry and currant fruits with an underpinning of forest floor and underbrush. Earthy and mysterious on the palate with firm ripe tannins, a silky mouth feel, and some persistence on the aromatic finish. A lot to like in this young vines offering. Reviewed March 13, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Paul Lato “Sine Cera” Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 125 cases, $70. This vineyard is farmed by Jeff Newton. Yields are 2.5 tons per acre from 11 to 12 year-old vines. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Aged in 70% new French oak barrels. · Gorgeous aromas of black cherries, blueberries, and black raspberries with a hint of cardamom spice. Powerful black cherry and red licorice flavors, but silky smooth with tamed tannins. I didn’t write much about this wine in my notebook because it defied descriptives and I was stunned as I sampled it. It was the only wine I swallowed. In a word, spectacular. Could be California’s next 100 point wine. Reviewed March 13, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Paul Lato “Lancelot” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 100 cases, $80. Sourced from 28 year-old own-rooted vines from the original block at Pisoni Vineyard. Aged in 80% new French oak barrels. From a less ripe vintage, requiring no manipulation. · Deep, dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Copious earth-kissed black fruits with a roseate note on the nose. A profusion of dark, plump black cherry and berry confiture with notes of game and cassis carrying over to an explosive finish with lasting intensity. Corralled tannins and very precocious. A bombshell and even better than the superb 2008. Reviewed March 13, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato Wines “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

Martini clone which performs well at this site. · A real charmer showing tasty strawberry and Asian spice flavors. A delicate minerality roams the background. Reviewed May 7, 2009 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato Wines “Sine Cera” Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

“Sine Cera” is a Latin idiom meaning “without wax.” Wax was used historically to cover imperfections in statues. One new barrel of clone 113. · Lovely aromas of dark cherries and berries with a touch of chocolate and violets. Smoothly textured with supple tannins and a soft and scented exit. Reviewed May 7, 2009 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato Wines “Suerte” Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

From a block at the top of the vineyard planted to clones 115 and 667. Solomon Hills is the most westerly vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley and is clearly visible to travelers on Highway 101. “Suerte” means luck and Paul chose this name because he had suffered a string of accidents and survived without significant injury. This wine seemed to bring him luck. · Darker fruited, nicely spiced with plenty of structural power, noticeable oak, soft tannins and a tangy finish that lasts and lasts. Reviewed May 7, 2009 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato Wines Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

15.1% alc.. Sourced from the original plantings that are 20 years old. · Full-bodied, intensely fruited, with an appealing earthiness and hints of anise and tar. Despite its heft, the wine retains a lively acidity, moderated tannins and complete integration of the alcohol. Reviewed May 7, 2009 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato “Matinee” California Pinot Noir

75 cases, $35. Barrel sample. This is Paul’s first attempt at a blended wine using barrels from Solomon Hills, Pisoni and Gold Coast vineyards that didn’t fit the vision for the single vineyard bottlings. Inexpensively priced as a thank you to customers and possibly a good fit for restaurant by-the-glass programs. · A simple, delicately composed wine featuring dark Pinot fruits with a healthy tannic backbone and a somewhat shallow finish. A perfect daily drinker. Decent. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato “Le Souvenir” Sierra Madre Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

150 cases, $50. Barrel sample. Sourced from the Sierra Madre Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley. 11 year-old Wente clone vines. 70% new oak, 100% MLF, aged sur-lie, native yeast fermented, only first pressing, lightly filtered. · Attractive scent of lemons and roasted nuts. Delicious flavors of citrus and creme brulee with the faintest hint of oak. Think Aubert Chardonnay brought down a notch. Very good (+). Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

100 cases, $60. Barrel sample. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Martini clone, 14 year-old vines. · Light in intensity and highly aromatic in the fashion of a Chambolle Musigny. Dark fruits, underlying earthiness and edible flower. Well structured to last. Down the road will become even more savory. Very good. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 100 cases, $60. 14-year-old Martini clone vines. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Unfiltered. · Subdued aromas of cherries, red berries and balsam which build in intensity over time in the glass. A cherry bombast in the mouth that makes one pause and wonder how a liquid could deliver such luscious flavor. Elegant, soft in the mouth, with powdery fine grain tannins and an endless echo of scent and fruit on the dry finish. Reviewed January 27, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato “Suerte” Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

$65. Barrel sample. Clones 115, 667 and 777. · Appealing scents of spiced dark fruits and wet leaves. Moderately rich essence of blue and black fruits with a spicy, earthy underpinning. Impressive persistence on the generous finish. The tannins are well proportioned. Still very young but superb potential. Very good (+). Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato “Suerte” Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley PInot Noir

14.8% alc., 175 cases, $65. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Unfiltered. · Alluring aromas of nicely spiced cherries and strawberries echoed on the palate with an appealing earth, savory herb and oak undertone. Soft and smooth, with supple, grainy tannins and a refreshing juiciness on the finish. Very good. Reviewed January 27, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato “Sine Cera” Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

$70. Barrel sample. Clones 115, 667, 777. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color. More tannic, loamy and savory than the other wines in the lineup. The well-hung core of dark fruit is brooding which is not surprising as this wine is typically slow to evolve. Big but not at all jammy. Develops increasing charm with time in the glass. Very good (+). Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato “Sine Cera” Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 125 cases, $70. Clones 115, 667 and 777. Unfiltered. · Gorgeous aromas of black cherries and Grandma’s fresh berry preserves with a hint of spice box including cardamom. The showy dark berry and plum fruit really sings on the palate. A man’s Pinot with plenty of sinewy tannin framing the lush fruit, but not at all jammy. The finish has plenty of length. Softer and even more expressive the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. I have three words for this wine: delicious, seductive and beguiling. An All-American. Reviewed January 27, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato “Lancelot” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

75 cases, $75. · Paul tried to invoke his trademark elegance with this wine but it is still BIG. It is stacked and packed with blackberries, black raspberries, black plums, and cola, with a woodsy, toasty and grilled meat character. It is a formidable wine that lacks charm and is not open for business at present. Judgment is out on this one until the wine mellows some through bottle aging. Pisoni unplugged. Reviewed March 11, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Paul Lato “Lancelot” Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

14.8% alc., 100 cases, $75. Unfiltered. · Subdued aromas of black fruits, herbs and a trace of sweet oak. Earth-kissed red plum and boysenberry fruits with a slight candied cherry note and a subtle underpinning of herbs and oak. Velvety in the mouth with excellent length on the explosive finish. The wine grows on you over time in the glass, and shows beautifully the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Pisoni unplugged. Reviewed January 27, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 Paul Lato Sierra Madre Vineyard “Le Souvenir” Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

14.1% alc., 75 cases, $48. Full MLF, aged in 66% new French oak, unfiltered. · Pear and vanillin scents are augmented with notes of yeast and smoke. A rich but not cumbersome wine with full-on flavors of pears, lemons and the faintest oak. Smoke shows up on the finish. The overall impression is a juicy wine that is vivid and bright. Reviewed September 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Paul Lato Wines “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc.,100 cases, $63. · Really lovely nose touting Bing cherries, forest floor, sandalwood and baking spices. Delicious midweighted cherry fruit with oak playing a supportive role in the background. Silky, vibrant and perfectly harmonious. Reviewed May 7, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Paul Lato Wines “Suerte” Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., 150 cases, $68. · Sensual perfume of fresh crushed raspberries and blackberries with the slightest hint of oak. Gorgeous fruit accented with musk and cola and framed harmoniously by soft tannins and a spark of acidity. Pinot my paramour. Reviewed May 7, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Paul Lato Wines “Sine Cera” Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.7% alc.,125 cases, $73. · Deep, dark brooding nose showing aromas of black cherries, raspberries and white pepper. A distinctive wine with woodsy and earthy dark stone fruits that are both lush and mysterious. Deft touch of oak and admirable corralling of tannins. A hint of citrus shows up in the finish which is unbelievably persistent. This is a wine that comes at you, grabs hold and demands your attention. Screams for duck. Reviewed May 7, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Paul Lato “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $60. · This vintage is more showy than 2005 and quite a striking wine. Lovely Pinot perfume of dark stone fruits, earth, mushroom, and truffle. Deliciously spiced black cherries with complimentary herbs. This lovely wine slides like silk over the palate. Elegant and seductive. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 Paul Lato “Suerte” Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $60. The Solomon Hills Vineyard is owned and farmed by the Miller family under the direction of vineyardist Greg Phelan. Paul proudly states on the back label, “For those who walk the walk.” · The aromas draw you in as you merrily sniff away. Crushed strawberries, spice, and even fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies waft from the glass. Great sweetness of red fruit highlighted by baking spices and brown sugar. The finish is long and tangy and the balance is spot on. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 Paul Lato “Sine Cera” Fiddlestix Vineyard Ste. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $65. Fiddlestix Vineyard consists of 97 acres of Pinot Noir of which the first plantings began in 1998. Located on the north side of a tight eastwest running valley, fog hangs over the vines until midmorning and the temperature barely rises above 75°F. The vineyard is farmed by Coastal Vineyard Care (Jeff Newton and Larry Finkle). Paul declassified 60% of the wine. · This wine is all about power with finesse. The Fiddlestix fruit can be foreboding, but Paul has tamed the beast beautifully. This wine is the “dark side” of Paul Lato. Very pleasing nose of black cherries and savory herbs. Great sweetness of dark red fruit which gets tastier and tastier in the glass over time. Powerful, yet very clean, pure and refreshing. This one has the bling without the weight. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Paul Lato "Duende" Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

75 cases, $50. · This wine has it all. Gorgeous perfume and fruit, long, stylish and smooth in the mouth, this Pinot Noir delivers the sensuality and charisma that Pinot Noir so often promises, but rarely surrenders. This is the work of a true artisan and artist. I did not meet one seasoned taster at the event who did not love this wine. I admit it, I went ‘gaga’ for this one. Reviewed March 5, 2007 ARTICLE »

2005 Paul Lato “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 75 cases, $50. The Gold Coast Vineyard is owned and farmed by the Burk and Espinosa families and the vines are over sixteen years old. · Slightly lighter in color than the 2006 wines. Complex aromatic profile brimming with dark red fruits, brown sugar, spice, hay and barnyard. Black cherry driven with hints of anise and char. Lightly fruited on the palate and very feminine in presentation. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Paul Lato “Duende” Gold Coast Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $50. · Very elegantly composed featuring red cherry fruits with baking spices and cola. Soft in the mouth and imminently likable. Reviewed November 17, 2008 ARTICLE »