Full disclosure, I bought my first bottle of Booker Vineyard’s “My Favorite Neighbor 2016” because of the label(s). The artwork on the label showed several of the winemaker’s Paso Robles neighbors. HOWEVER, the second and third times I purchased and recommended this rich deep full-bodied wine was all about the taste.
This lush well-balanced Bordeaux blend is made of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, and 11% Petit Verdot. To the eye, it’s a beautifully glossy intense purple wine in the glass. On the nose, it’s not a stereotypical “in your face” fruit-forward California red there’s a good amount of minerality that balances it well and a little tobacco. On the tongue, if there’s something bigger than full-bodied, this is it. The tannins are soft and rounded as it flows across the palate. The first things you’re likely to taste are crème de cassis, intense dark ripe plums and wild blueberries with touches of black pepper, black tea and a bit of cedar. There’s even a surprising little floral note in the background. Aged in French oak barrels there’s also a hint anise and vanilla…but just a hint because the wine is the star. The finish is long and silky. The alcohol level is 14.8% by volume so you’ll definitely want to have this with a meal.
We paired it with a grilled steak because its summer and that was easy. It would also be great with lamb or veal shank, blue-veined cheese, and brownies. Of course, it would work with cheesy popcorn and a good movie in a pinch.
My Favorite Neighbor is grown in the hills on the western side of Paso Robles where the clay soil very similar to what’s found in Napa and Bordeaux. The farmers, and they do consider themselves farmers, are dedicated to taking care of the land. Nearly all of them follow organic or biodynamic vinification practices.
Eric and Lisa Jensen purchased the Booker Estate Vineyard in 2001. For years, the production levels were so low, there was barely enough for anyone except their wine club members. However, through patience and hard work and collaboration with neighboring farmers in 2016, Eric was able to launch Booker’s own Cabernet-based brand with enough wine to share with lucky people like us.
The 2017, which I haven’t tried yet, is getting rave reviews from Robert Parker, Anthony Galloni, and Jeb Dunnuck. So, if you like the wines they like, you’ll want to find this wine.