Wine & Travel

Snooth User: A Oak A

Pahrump Valley Winery (Nevada)

Posted by A Oak A, Feb 22, 2015.

Made a trip to Pahrump Nevada today to play a round of golf with my friends at Mountain Falls GC. Amazing course! Rated #1 in Nevada and the #7 public course in America. Who would have thought a course that nice could be located smack dab in the middle of basically no-mans land.

Because the trip is 45 minutes from Vegas, I decided to visit the winery.

It's on a fairly small parcel of land. I was expecting sprawling vineyards. There's only a few rows planted out front. 

They offer a fairly wide range of wines: all the popular varietals but they do have Barbera. Turns out that the majority of their grapes are shipped in from California. They only grow Zin and Syrah on property (I guess those are the rows out front.)

I tried four of their wines and none of them are typical (Nor very good in my opinion.) The reds are all so sweet, floral and perfummy. The aromas coming out of the glass are just so unusual. 

I tried their Burgundy. It tastes nothing like Pinot Noir. I asked the girl who served me the wine if it was a Pinot and she told me it's a secret recipe that only the winemaker knows and that Burgundy is a region, not a grape. LOL. I don't think she realized that the bulk of Burgundy is Pinot Noir. Also, I noticed that from their wide range of wines, not a single one is Pinot Noir. Hmmmmm......what could possibly be in that Burgundy if none of it is Pinot? Strange...

The Syrah they grow on property is quite pale in color. Such an odd color for Syrah. The wine was very sweet and floral. The girl told me that most of their wines are sweet because they have a very short harvest season in Pahrump. The Zin was sweet as well. 

The last glass was a Cabernet from their California grapes. It was a bit dry and somewhat typical for a Cabernet Sauvignon. To be polite, I bought one bottle. I'll drink it next week and tell ya all about it. 

http://www.pahrumpwinery.com/

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Replies

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 23, 2015.

The girl told me that most of their wines are sweet because they have a very short harvest season in Pahrump.

Huh?

And I thought they imported most of their grapes (or must??) from California, anyway?

What was it W.C. Fields had to say?

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Reply by GregT, Feb 23, 2015.

"I tried their Burgundy. It tastes nothing like Pinot Noir."

Why should it? Las Vegas is in the desert. I bet their Chinon doesn't taste like Cab Franc either!

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Reply by A Oak A, Feb 23, 2015.

The grapes don't come from Vegas though, Greg. They ship em in from California. I assume their Burgundy isn't a blend of Zin and Syrah (The only grapes they grow on site.)

If it says Burgundy on the bottle, it should resemble Burgundy.

I forgot to mention they also offer a blend of seven grapes. Cabernet Sauv, Merlot, Malbec, Mourvedre, Barbera, Syrah and Zin. I'm sure it delicious...

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Reply by EMark, Feb 23, 2015.

Fun report, AOA. Thanks.

It's interesting that you raised the question "How do they make something called 'Burgundy?'"  Over the weekend I was with a group where a similar question came up.  How does Gallo make Hearty Burgundy?

Well, today I once again utilized the massive resources of the internet and found this article by Dan Berger at Napa Valley Register.com.  According to this, obviously authorative, article the commemorative 50 year anniversary bottling of Gallo Hearty Burgundy consisted of 

  • 37% Zinfandel
  • 29% Petit Verdot
  • 25% Petite Sirah
  • 9% Alicante Bouschet
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Reply by A Oak A, Feb 23, 2015.

I guess I was a bit ignorant to think that having the word Burgundy on the bottle implies Pinot Noir. What's the point of putting Burgundy on the bottle if it has no resemblance to Burgundy wine from France? It's a marketing strategy I suppose that tries to take advantage of the already established fame of another countries wine. 

Leave it to Gallo to blend a bunch of random grapes together and call it Burgundy. Not that they're the only ones though...

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 23, 2015.

Burgundy is also a color.  I think I had it in my Crayola set when I was young.  Or maybe they listed it as one of the colors in a Victoria's Secret catalog one time, but I know it's been a color.  Maybe that's what they mean.  Which makes "White Burgundy" a contradiction in terms. 

Gamay is grown in Beaujolais, which is technically part of Burgundy.  Whatever. Burgundy Passe-Tout-Grain is a blend of PN and Gamay.  So to be Burgundy it doesn't have to be all PN, but still--that's kind of nuts. 

It's totally clear these guys are whack jobs.  I wouldn't even have bought a bottle based on what you said.  But glad the golfing was good.  I know that golf course, sort of.  Years ago, one of my clients went golfing there with a friend.  Afterward, they skipped the winery and went to the gun shop instead.  I have been to Pahrump a couple times--once on the way to run a marathon in Death Valley (December, when it's not so hot) and the other time to visit the owner of the gun shop.  It's kind of cool in its isolated weirdness, but when I drove back from the Marathon, I went by way of Rhyolite, a ghost town, and Area 51/Yucca Mountain--so obviously I didn't like it that much.

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Reply by dvogler, Feb 23, 2015.

A Oak A,

I would have made the same assumption.  Looking forward to your report.

Fox, HAHA...and I thought those were Wine Spectators down in your cellar, when all along they were the Victoria's Secret catalogues!

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Reply by A Oak A, Feb 23, 2015.

Yes, there's a ton of different shades of red: burgundy being one of them. I think the color burgundy can be a good word to describe many different reds, but you could expand on the word burgundy by using words such as ruby or garnet. I would not use the word burgundy to describe deep, dark, opaque wines. It falls into a different color spectrum (Purple).

If you search wikipedia for shades of red, the list is rather long. Some shades that resemble red wine are fire-brick and crimson. Might be a good idea to store a few of these colors away in our minds for the purpose of describing wine. But then again, people might not understand what you're talking about unless they just so happen to be familiar with those colors.

In hindsight, because Pahrump Valley Winery's reds are so sweet, it may have been a better idea to try a couple of their whites. I'll slip back in there next time I play the course and give it another shot.

One last thing - The girl who served me did mention it was her first week at the winery.

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Reply by dvogler, Feb 24, 2015.

Personally, sweetness is a major turn-off.  I looked at the Pahrump website and it's painful.  Under the Burgundy, there's very little technical information, but next to "Varietal" it says, "Burgundy".  I guess people haven't been asking for more information.

DM, what made you think they imported their grapes?

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Reply by A Oak A, Feb 24, 2015.

They do import their grapes.

The girl who served me said that the winemaker goes to California once a year and selects the grapes, then has them shipped to Pahrump. They only grow Zin and Syrah on the property. 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 24, 2015.

Hmmm. Shipping the grapes across a desert could explain the sweetness:  They are passarille as the French say, or dried.  Higher sugar, possibly arrested fermentation.  Wonder if they use the native yeast?  In that dry, semi-high altitude environment, not a lot of yeast thrives.  Shipping grapes across the desert isn't really hospitable for the vineyard yeast, either.  Frankly, the whole idea of a winery in Pahrump is pretty quixotic. I'm guessing that the winemaker is the owner, and that s/he didn't apprentice at Latour or Screaming Eagle.  Maybe with that guy who made the grape juice wines and counseled against using condoms as an air lock. 

DV, when you say sweetness is a turnoff, you mean the wines, not the inexperienced girl serving them, right?  And if you can't tell the difference between Wine Spectator (enormous format so your friends know what a connoisseur you are, can't miss it on the coffee table) and the VS catalog (smaller so you can hide it under the WineSpectator when said friends come over, or under a couch cushion when your girlfriend shows up unexpectedly), you are entirely missing the point.  (I was going to say you need to get out more, but that's obviously wrong.)  Fair point that both are indecent fantasy material for a certain kind of immature person.  I no longer read Wine Spectator.  ;-) 

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Reply by A Oak A, Feb 25, 2015.

I was actually a bit surprised when she told me that the grapes were shipped in. Makes better sense for the winery to find a few temperature controlled semi- trucks and pay for the drive. The trip could be made in less than 10 hours I bet.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 25, 2015.

Either way, shipping grapes across a desert sounds insane.

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Reply by dvogler, Feb 25, 2015.

HAHA Richard, you kill me!  I was laughing quite hard!

OT's snarkiness has rubbed off on me.  I did look at the site, maybe I didn't see or they didn't state that they import grapes, but it appeared that they HAVE vineyards ( get from AOA's message they grow something).

In my opinion, if grapes come from more than 30-60 minutes away, it's cheating.  Especially if it's out of the AVA or the State for sure.  As cute as the girl might be, I don't suffer fools gladly.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 25, 2015.

Depending on traffic, shipping grapes from up near Calistoga to Yountville could take 1/2 an hour or more.  Lots of grapes have to get trucked an hour or so, although it's far from the best thing.  Some winemakers will contract with someone closer or use a custom crush facility nearer the source--Bell does this with wines they make from Oregon grapes.  No way they are driving those grapes down I-5.  I'm not sure what Adam Lee at Siduri does with all the grapes he contracts for out of the Central Coast,but they would have to go all the way to Santa Rosa--which I think they do.  I also know that Roar trucks all their grapes from south of Salinas up to their winemaking facility in SF, which is certainly more than an hour. 

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Reply by dmcker, Feb 25, 2015.

"In my opinion, if grapes come from more than 30-60 minutes away, it's cheating."

Well I'd be curious what percentage of the entire wine market you've just dissed, DV! Also wonder about Canadian winemakers. Whether Niagara, the Okanagan or Western B.C., who (and to what extent) uses grapes not from their own immediate vineyards? Also what is 'imported' as grapes, and what as juice/must/what have you.

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Reply by dvogler, Feb 25, 2015.

Listen, I'm not talking "depending on traffic" or prevailing winds.  From one part of Sonoma to the other is acceptable.  Crossing state lines?  Nah.  In BC, the VQA rating is heavily regulated.   There can't be any grapes from elsewhere.  I've said before, there IS crappy stuff being mass-produced (labelled "Cellared in Canada") from a blend of domestic and imported (read California dregs) grapes.  The stuff I drink is basically all estate wine.  The winery grows it, harvests it, crushes it, etc etc.  Some do have more than one property, but in these small regions, we're talking within fifteen miles.  These guys are only producing MAYBE 1000 cases of a particular wine, often 100's of cases.  The ones that are making 10k cases, it's not worth drinking, at least for me.  I'm a purist.  I like vintage dates.  I don't like smoke and mirrors.  I like these little guys who have ten acres and a bunch of barrels, who did it all and no cheating or b.s.  Just like I think the ones on Vancouver Island that canopy their stuff to get it ripen (red grapes that need more heat)....it's doping.  If you can't grow grapes naturally, don't bother.

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Reply by outthere, Feb 25, 2015.

Fruit fom Anapolis out in the True takes 2-1/2 hrs to get to Santa Rosa. Alder Spring vineyard is in Laytonville a good 5+ hrs from Sonoma. Hardy Wallace trucks fruit to SR from Sutter Creek, Redwood Valley and Santa Barbara. Halcon fruit is a 4hr truck ride from the winery. Adam trucks his fruit down from Oregon and up from SLH. Bedrock from Lodi to Sonoma. It happens all the time with most wineries. 

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Reply by dvogler, Feb 25, 2015.

That's because you're talking about secondary roads through the mountains.  Most wineries?   I had no idea that California grapes had to travel so far.   I guess Ridge has vineyards in Santa Cruz AVA and Paso Robles.  I certainly wouldn't boycott them!  You know where I was going with this right?  Maybe I can relax my parameters a little, but going out of state is BS.  How does the guy market the Oregon grapes?  California or Oregon Cellared in California?

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Reply by EMark, Feb 26, 2015.

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