A Clean Hit From Paso Robles

Nov 8, 2007

Each new day brings at least one new label, and two of the wines that stood out in yesterday’s blind tasting came from a name that’s new to me: Terry Hoage Vineyards.

The wines alone would have merited mention. But after the bags came off and I had a chance to look at the labels I noticed one had "46" on the side and I wondered: Could this be a reference to the famous 4-6 defense taught by Buddy Ryan? No. No chance.

But of course it was. Not only that, but Hoage is a former football star, who played for Ryan, and has awesome credentials. He was a defensive back for the University of Georgia from 1980 to 1983 where he was a two-time consensus All-American, and in 1983 finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

From college he went on to play 13 seasons in the NFL, including stints with New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington and Houston, before retiring in 1996.

In 2002, Hoage and his wife, Jennifer, purchased a 26-acre vineyard in Paso Robles, Calif., where they now live and make 2,000 cases of wine a year. I liked the 2005s better than the 2004s, which I reviewed last year.

Along with the 2005 Grenache-Syrah 46 ($45, 750 cases), which is dark, with juicy wild berry, mineral and spicy notes, they offer a 2005 Syrah called The Hedge. I liked it even better, with an unusual chunky wild berry and blackberry core of flavors. The Hedge refers to a pruning method and the fabled feature of the Georgia Bulldogs stadium.

The Pick, which I assume refers to an interception, didn’t wow me as much. It’s $38, with 300 cases made, offering a mix of herb, bell pepper and dried currant flavors.

Yet another winner worth watching from Paso Robles.

United States California

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