I had the opportunity to visit Pali Wine in Lompoc, California back in July, and had a chance to tour the facility and speak winemaker Aaron Walker. Pali is best know for their great Pinot Noir wines - their 2011 Riviera and Huntington Pinots recently made Wine Spectator's Top Value list in, and their 2010 Huntington also scored a 90 on Spectator's 100-point scale.
But, this is a budget wine column, so attention turns to their Tower15 line of wines. The label, Tower15, refers to a particular lifeguard tower on the beach along Pacific Palisades. According to their website, "... lifeguard tower number 15 stands as a local beacon to families and friends. Meeting at the beach at Tower 15 has been a tradition for many, whether to celebrate the sunshine, the surf, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or the sunset. A local icon evoking so many wonderful memories is a perfect name for these wines."
All of the fruit for the label comes from the Paso Robles AVA; Paso is located about mid-way between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and has become known for their GMS (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre) Rhone style wines, along with some very nice Zinfandels and single-grape versions of GSM. Paso, and nearby San Luis Obispo are in tSan Luis Obispo County, located in California's Central Coast wine region.
I was able to try two of their wines: The Swell, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Petite Verdot, and The Jetty, a GSM blend. The full line includes a Sauvignon Blanc, a Grenache Blanc, a Rosé, and a Petite Sirah.
Tower15 The Swell 2010
2010 The Swell is a blend of 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Malbec, 27% Merlot, and 14% Petite Verdot. The color is a rich red-purple, with an enticing nose that carried hints of tobacco, cherry, spice, a bit of black pepper, plums, cassis, along with a touch of wood. The mouthfeel was pleasant - the alcohol content is 14.8% but I did not detect any significant impact on the nose or in the mouth. The flavors were red berries, a bit of stone fruits, some spicy/floral notes, some cedar and leather, and a nice, juicy tone. The tannins are mild - this is a drink-now wine. It retails for $17-$20 a bottle
Tower15 The Jetty 2010
The Jetty 2010 is a Rhône blend of 62% Grenache, 33% Syrah, and 5% Mourvèdre. The color tends towards Garnet. The initial hit on the aroma was alcohol; this wine clocks in at 15.1%. Underneath the alcohol, I detected hints of leather, cherry, blueberry and a touch of cedar. On the palate, the alcohol definetly impacts the mouthfeel with a bit of a burn. There was also some spice, cassis, red fruits, hints of dried fruit and some herbal notes; the website mentions sage which (although it could be the power of suggestion) I will agree with. The finish is slightly bitter with some lingering alcohol burn, along with dried fruits and sour cherry. This wine retails for around $20.00 per bottle.
These wines are available through distribution in various states. Check their website for details.