A Conversation with Eric Jensen of Booker Wines (Part Two)

Last week, I published the first few snippets from my interview with Eric Jensen. In those videos, I learned a bit about what was behind the man that has become a bit of an icon in Paso Robles and California winemaking circles.

In today’s videos we discover some rather unfortunate news (he’s a Notre Dame fan), but also delve a bit into his fairly popular podcast, Popping Corks with Eric Jensen. We then pivot a bit to the state of the California wine industry today, as Eric sees it, with perhaps the two most pressing issues: global heating (and the accompanying fires) and COVID-19.

Last, I push him a bit about his use of extremely heavy bottles, coming away from our interaction with a little more nuanced view.

Once again, a quick warning: Eric does not shy away from “colorful” language…

We jump into the Popping Corks podcast, which Eric downplays quite a bit. I have listened to several episodes and he has some particularly interesting guests. In this clip, he talks a bit about a podcast that he did not air…

It is difficult to talk to any winemaker on the west coast who has not been affected in some way by the well-documented wild fires that seem to have quickly become a way of life. I ask Eric if he thinks this is now the “new normal” if this is going to be a yearly occurrence in the wine industry.

We then pivoted to that other topic, COVID, which I know everyone is sick of talking about, but it still affects the hospitality industry more than perhaps any other industry.

Sensing that Eric really does not hesitate to speak his mind, I thought I would poke the bear a bit and see if there was any aspect of the wine industry that rubbed him the wrong way. Perhaps to no surprise, Eric dove right in and expressed some of his frustrations.

Perhaps directly related to the past clip, Eric talks about the importance of farming organically and his views on biodynamic certification.

In this longest clip, I ask Eric about his winemaking style, essentially. His wines (at least those that I have tried) are ready to drink right from release, but could likely age well for quite some time as well. He quickly goes into his thoughts on European wines and the differences between his approach.

Last, I had to ask him about his really heavy bottles. I have made my position clear on what I think about the use of exceedingly heavy bottles, but I came away from my chat with Eric that the situation is much more nuanced than what it seems on the surface. That does not mean that I am softening on my stance, just that now I realize that it is not just a simple choice.

We did not discuss the wines at all, particularly the Booker Wines that I received, but they were phenomenal. Sure, they are priced at a point that is likely beyond what most would consider “every day” wines, but they certainly come as close to warranting the tariff as any wines I’ve tried in the category.

2018 Booker Vineyard Oublié, Paso Robles, CA: Retail $75. Big. Ass. Bottle. 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 30% Syrah. Eric Jensen’s GSM is, at least for me, very similar to how I found Eric himself. As with all of his wines (at least those that I have tasted), they are on the big side (here I am talking about his personality as I imagine few would describe Eric’s physical stature with that word), but it is also complex, with several component parts. Lovely nose of garrigue, red rose petals, red raspberry, plum on the nose while the palate reveals itself somewhat slowly after that first wave of fruit. Another wonderfully balanced and nuanced wine that with some time open, continues to evolve and impress. Outstanding. 94 Points.

2018 Booker Vineyard Syrah Fracture, Paso Robles, CA: Retail $98. 100% Syrah. Big. Ass. Bottle. A couple of months ago, I interviewed Eric Jensen via Zoom and, well, we never tasted through the wines he sent. So I am now. Fantastic nose of rich red and black fruit, a distinct herbal aspect, along with anise and even some red licorice. Rich, even really rich on the palate, this is not a shy one in the least, but it is also very well balanced with a fabulous tartness and some silky tannins on the finish. I would probably wait a few years, but it really is fantastic now. Outstanding. 95 Points.

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Grenache, Malbec, Syrah, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

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