Qupé/Verdad/Ethan – Old reliable and the interlopers. No, not really. But as venerable as the Qupé name is, ’round these parts, the two relatives – for that’s what the other wineries are: labels belonging to scions and shoots of Qupé’s Lindquist family – create a somewhat jumbled picture when viewed (or tasted) together. Stylistic threads are hard to untangle.
Plus, there’s a lot of wine being made here. I don’t even scratch the surface, despite a fairly broad tasting, and as the genesis seesaws between the Rhône and various parts of Spain, I leave less sure of what I’ve experienced than I was before I entered. But this is why one tastes, right?
Verdad 2010 Grenache Rosé Sawyer Lindquist (Edna Valley) – Raspberry bubblegum. Texturally rich (aided by the strong impression of sweetness) with decent acidity. Not bad, not great.
Qupé 2010 “Bien Nacido Cuvée” (Santa Maria Valley) – Viognier and chardonnay, the former deliberately picked ripe and the latter deliberately picked underripe. I understand why they do this, even absent their explanation, but to my palate they’re still not getting what they appear to want. Peach blossom and the typically lurid flower-based soap aromas to which viognier is so susceptible and into which it is so easily pushed. Dense and sticky. The acidity comes through on the finish, but by then it’s a bit too late. Whatever trick they wish to use to re-introduce acidity into a blowsy, lurid viognier, they’re going to have to find a way to get it better-integrated with the wine at a far earlier stage.
Verdad 2010 Albariño Sawyer Lindquist (Edna Valley) – Big, sticky almonds with spice and preserved lemon. A bit of almond skin as counterpoint. Very bronzed…almost ambered, in fact…with a heavy, beeswax-textured finish. Good acidity. This is quite credible.
Qupé 2009 “Los Olivos Cuvée” (Santa Ynez Valley) – Syrah, mourvèdre, grenache. Sweat, bubblegum, peppered mushroom. Thanks, varities, for each contributing something. Fairly deft, with good balance. Marred by green-tinged tannin.
Verdad 2009 Graciano Ibarra-Young (Santa Ynez Valley) – Burnt aromas, tutti-frutti flavors. Are we sure this is graciano? Because it tastes like Purple Nurple (the drink, not the bullying technique). Finishes short and bitter, and ultimately that’s kind of a blessing.
Ethan 2009 Syrah Sawyer Lindquist (Edna Valley) – Black pepper and coal (in rock, rather than its usual dust, form). And then things get ugly: well-toasted spices heavy on clove, spiced cherry pie, and all the sickly trappings of modernity. There are wines (though few syrahs) that can take this sort of theatrical makeup, but this isn’t one of them.
Qupé 2007 Syrah Alisos (Santa Barbara County) – Luscious. Blackberry smoke, morel, earth. Gorgeous and very elegant. This is how to do a modern-leaning syrah while not losing one’s soul in the process.
Qupé 2008 Syrah Bien Nacido (Santa Maria Valley) – Rich mixed fruit, crushed black and blue berries, soft coal dust, some lingering toast, and a persistent touch of finishing oxidation. I inquire, but the bottle hasn’t been open long; perhaps the damage existed before uncorking. In any case, I don’t think this is fully intact.
Qupé 2007 Syrah Bien Nacido Hillside Estate (Santa Maria Valley) – Ripe. Blackness of both the berried and peppered varieties. Lots of tannin. This is not only made for the long haul, it’s already holding a non-refundable ticket.
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