29 January 2010

Hope Family Wines

Hope Family Wines has been in operation in Paso Robles, California since 1978 and produces wines under four labels: Treana, Austin Hope, Liberty School, and Candor. Here I'm taking a look at the last two.

First up are the wines in the Liberty School product line, representing the affordable, introductory wines of the company. These are pretty widely available around the country and have a good quality-price ratio.

2007 Liberty School Syrah
Central Coast, $14, 13.5% abv
Strong and aromatic, with a bold nose of blackberry jam. Deep, dark berry flavors with medium tannins and a short finish. It has a lingering aftertaste of black cherry with a bit of black pepper, where you can fully appreciate the Syrah grape.

2007 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon
Paso Robles, $15, 13.5% abv
Full-bodied like the Syrah, but with a stronger focus on cherry aromas and flavors. Stylistically the two wines are very similar, and both will work well with grilled meats or savory Italian dishes.

2007 Liberty School Chardonnay
Central Coast, $14, 13.5% abv
Big and fruity, with aromas of peach and apple. Low acidity, dry but full-fruit with an apricot finish. Think roast chicken, pasta salad, a few sliced tomatoes: a good wine to keep in the fridge for that light dinner of leftovers after work.

The Candor Wines are in the next tier up both in price and style. More complex and a little more interesting. Curiously, both Candor wines are a blend of the 2007 and 2008 vintages, and are sourced from various regions within California. Normally a blend would just be issued as Non-Vintage, but these two are up front about their vintage mix (hence "candor"). I was really impressed with the performance of both of these bottles, and it's certainly an interesting approach.

Candor Merlot Lot 2
Paso Robles/Lodi, $20, 14.5% abv
The Merlot is smooth and creamy. Aromas of black cherry and black pepper, with a nice flavor of currants. It's very soft, and reminds you how Merlot can be used to mediate the strength of bolder red grapes.

Candor Zinfandel Lot 2
Paso Robles/Santa Barbara, $20, 14.5% abv
Really fascinating nose on this one: tar, cedar, blackberry. It's more spicy and full-bodied than the Merlot, without being jammy or harsh. Balanced tannins and an overall profile that would match to loads of different dishes.

These wines were received as a sample from Hope Family Wines.


Hampers said...

What a wonderful post, beautifully written. It captures these wines so well.

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Joe said...

I recall having Liberty School Syrah at some point in the near past, and it didn't completely piss me off. For $14, it's a solid pick, and I'm more open to Syrah in that big style than Cabernet...

Benito said...


If you get a chance to try the Candor wines let me know. It's a different sort of approach and I was very impressed.


Rob Bralow said...

I was really impressed by these wines. Nice write-up.

Alan said...

like this zinfandel. this is a relatively young elegant zin that has a palate that you know it's right. it can be aged in the bottle for a year or two for Lot2 since some recommend to consume now, and that's the whole purpose of the Candor multi-vintage blends. I insist to age for a year or two for a more refined body and elegance. This is one of the american reds that impresses me not because of the price but the way they craft this wine. Austin is not simply throwing out another series to throw off people. This is about what's good to make about american reds.

Some Zinfandels are really sweet due to its nature on sugar content. However, what i tasted was a old world 'style' red with plenty of beautiful notes of red berries, cacao, spices. Totally not herby that's what I like about it. it's smoky thanks to the 07 vintage mixed into it i believe. and the 08 revitalize all the 'hibernated' aromas/flavors from 07. I guess that's how i should describe this.

It's got a reasonably length of round finish. It's not a really memorable red for me but something I'd recall if the name is called up on me.