“No Reservations” Wine Tasting in Paso Robles – Tablas Creek Vineyards

My wife and I do more than our fair share of wine tasting.  We’ve hit all the major wine regions in California (and a few minor ones too;-), along with some tasting in Oregon and Spain.  From time to time we have a wine tasting experience that stands above the rest, and is everything we’re looking for – great wine and commendable service in a relaxed unpretentious environment. It’s those such experiences that are the focus of this “No Reservations” series.  Why “No Reservations”? Because I can honesty say I have “No Reservations”  about recommending the winery anyone who is looking for a great wine tasting experience.  The latest in this series features Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles.

My complete review of Tablas Creek Vineyard, including history, a recap of the tasting experience – including reviews of wines tasted may be found at the American Winery Guide’s website.

Founded by the Perrins (Chateau de Beaucastel) and importer Robert Haas, Tablas Creek produces estate-grown, internationally recognized Rhone varietals and Chateauneuf-du-Pape style blends from grapes including Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier and Roussanne.

Tablas Creek Vineyard Tasting Room

Tablas Creek Vineyard Tasting Room

Tablas Creek is operated in much the same way as Chateau de Beaucastel, with a certified organic vineyard, an emphasis on wines of elegance and minerality, and an ongoing spirit of experimentation. However, for all its reliance on the expertise and experience of the French vineyard, Tablas Creek Vineyard is not trying to be a clone of its older cousin. According to Winemaker Neil Collins, “when people taste Beaucastel, they know it’s Beaucastel. I would hope that people will taste Tablas Creek and know it’s Tablas Creek.”

Tablas Creek Vineyard Sign Haas and the Perrins knew the Rhone varietals they wanted to focus on: Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache and Counoise for reds, and Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc for whites. However, they felt uneasy about the quality of Rhone grapevine stock available domestically and decided to import fresh cuttings of all eight varietals from Chateau de Beaucastel. The cuttings spent three years in a rigorous U.S.D.A. quarantine program before being released to the property in 1993. Over the next decade, Tablas Creek’s grapevine nursery (the only on-site vine nursery of any vineyard in California) would provide millions of cuttings of high-quality Rhone varietals to Tablas Creek, and, eventually, hundreds of other producers around the West Coast.

Tablas Creek Domaine de Beaucastel

My wife and I have been making an annual trip from our home in Northern California to the Central Coast for the last 4 years, and Tablas Creek is at the top of our list for wineries to visit.  Highly Recommended!

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine Of The Week: 2007 Stage Left Cellars Syrah

My Wine Of The Week for October 6 - October 12 is the 2007 Stage Left Cellars Syrah. 

The Winery

Stage Left Cellars is an urban winery located in Oakland, California not too far from Jack London Square. By urban winery I mean their winemaking facilities are located in an urban setting, rather than in a rural setting near the vineyard.

The winery is owned and operated by Melinda Doty. Her husband, Rich Williams is the winemaker.   Melinda and Rich both had corporate gigs before they decided to exit “Stage Left” and pursue their dream of opening a winery.  Like so many winemakers, they were making wine in their garage before taking the plunge into commercial winemaking.  Their first commercial effort was the 2004 “Day Job” a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvèdre.

Need a bit of inspiration? Check out the tagline that is etched on their bottles…

“What is the one idea you just cannot shake? Do you have the juice to pull it off? If not, why not? You time is now. The world is waiting”

Stage Left is focused primarily on Rhone varietals and Rhone blends.  In addition to this wine, they produce a Viognier, a Viognier/Roussanne blend, a white Rhone blend composed of Viognier/Grenache Blanc/Roussanne (it’s called the “Go Getter; I tasted at the Family Winemakers event last month.  It’s an outstanding wine, I rated it 90pts), Grenache, Petite Sirah,  and a nice variety of red blends.  They source their grapes from throughout California and Oregon. Case production is about 1,200/year

Stage Left is open the first Saturday of each month, and by appointment.  The tasting fee is $5.  Most recently, Stage Left was voted the “Best San Fransisco” area winery for 2011 on the ABC 7 “A” List.  I highly recommend visiting.  You’ll enjoy the wine and they’re great hosts!

The Wine

This was a bottle of wine I’ve had for a couple of years.  I’d love to tell you I meant to do that, but the truth is, I simply  overlooked my stash of Stage Left wines.  I still have a few bottles.  I won’t repeat that mistake with my remaining bottles of Stage Left!

The grapes for this wine were sourced from four different Central Coast vineyards;  Watch Hill Vineyard (Los Alamos – Santa Barbara County, McGinley Vineyard (Happy Canyon – Santa Ynez), Fralich Vineyard (Templeton Gap – Paso Robles) and Rancho Encino (westside Paso).  According to Stage Left…
Each vineyard adds a different element but it seems the westside Paso fruit really shows off with the black pepper on the nose and on the palate. Great acidity – really balanced – and lovely with food. This wine is drinking well now but we expect this to be fantastic in 3-5 years.
The wine was fermented with a combination of native and commercial yeasts.

2007 Stage Left Cellars Syrah

As good fortune would have it, the fact I held on to this bottle was fortuitous.  The wine is drinking beautifully now.  It’s got great balance and is definitely food friendly!

My tasting notes follow:

Nearly opaque black red color with beguiling aromas that changed as the wine opened up. I picked up roasted meat, dark fruits, and green olive notes, On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, smooth and fresh, with velvety tannins and black raspberry, blackberry, and spiced vanilla flavors. Medium long finish. 14.4% alcohol. – 91pts

Highly recommended!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 14.4% alcohol.

Closure: Cork.

AVA: > CaliforniaCentral CoastPaso Robles

Varietal(s): 100% Syrah

Cooperage: 20 months in French and Hungarian Oak (25% new)

Retail: $28

Cases produced: 195

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Wine Of The Week: 2010 Tablas Creek Vermentino

My Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for July 14-July 20 is the 2010 Tablas Creek Vermentino.

The Winery

Tablas Creek (“TCV”) is probably the best-known of all Paso Robles wineries specializing in Rhone style wines.  It is a partnership between Robert Haas, and Chateau de Beaucastel in the Chateauneuf du Pape region in FranceWhat I find interesting about TCV is that they specifically chose to establish themselves in Paso Robles because of the similarities of the soil conditions and climate of Paso Robles to Chateauneuf du Pape.  They went as far as to import vines from Chateauneuf du Pape.  The vines were propagated and grafted in their on-site nursery and used to plant their 120 acre organic vineyards. Check the full story here

The Wine

If you’re not familiar with the Vermentino grape, it’s believed to be Spanish in origin, though the best examples come from the islands of Sardinia, Corsica, and northern Italy.  It is also grown in France where it is known as Rolle, where it is used primarily as a blending grape in Côtes de Provence, and increasingly in the Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France.  It is known for its crisp acidity, citrus and mineral aromas, and refreshing finish.  It pairs well with just about any seafood, oysters on the half-shell, seafood linguine, cioppino, pesto dishes or grilled Mediterranean vegetables.  It’s a classic example of the wine of a place being a reflection of that place – in this case the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, along with Liguria in the coastal region of north-western Italy where fresh seafood abounds.

The 2010 vintage was the ninth bottling of Vermentino for TCV.  The grapes for this wine are grown on their estate vineyard.

I enjoyed this on a warm summer night – al fresco style.  It paired wonderfully with grilled oysters,  and banana-leaf grilled tilapia, accompanied by an avocado, grilled corn, tomato salsa!

My tasting notes follow:

Light straw yellow-gold color with citrus leaf, wet stone, and a hints of honeysuckle aromas. On the palate, it approaches medium-bodied and  is well-balanced with crisp acidity.  It’s bursting with citrus, lime peel, and mineral flavors. Medium finish.

Recommendation: Highly recommended. It’s a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc!

Details:

Alcohol: 13.1% alcohol.

Closure: Screw cap.

AVA:  > CaliforniaCentral CoastPaso Robles

Varietal(s): 100% Vermentino

Cooperage: Stainless Steel

Retail: $25

Cases produced: 1,235

 

Paso Robles-Central Coast Wine Touring-Day 1

For the last 3 years, my wife and I have attended wine festivals in Santa Barbara each summer.  Each year, on our way back to the Bay Area, we’ve stopped in Paso Robles to do some wine tasting.  Last year we stopped both on the way to Santa Barbara, and on the way back.  This year, because we’ve enjoyed the wineries we’ve visited in Paso Robles so much, we decided to skip Santa Barbara altogether and just do Paso Robles instead.

On our itinerary was wine tasting in Paso Robles on Friday (Day 1), then head south to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto on Saturday (Day 2), before wrapping up with more tasting in Paso on  Sunday (Day 3).  I’ll cover each day in a separate post.  I’ll share with you the wineries we visited, the wines we tasted, my favorite wine at each winery, and offer my recommendation for each winery.

After the roughly 3 hour drive to Paso Robles from the Bay Area, we arrived in Paso around noon.  Just in time for lunch! Our first stop was Farmstand 46 - which just happens to be co-located with Cypher Winery – Winery #1.  This wasn’t our first time at Farmstand 46.  Last year we stopped there on the way to Santa Barbara, and on the way back.  Enough said? It’s THE place to stop for lunch if you’re tasting anywhere  in the Paso Robles area other than downtown. They dish healthy gourmet foods, including fantastic sandwiches, and wood fire oven pizza, made from locally grown organic ingredients including “estate” produce.  The co-location with Cypher is no accident, Christian Tietje, the winemaker for Cypherwas a chef in Boston before he was a winemaker, and has a stake in Farmstand 46.

Our friend Emmaline, who accompanied us on our trip,  got us off to a great start because she bought along a bottle of the 2010 Unti Cuvée Blanc, a very good  Rhone blend composed of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, and Picpoul Blanc.  It had a wonderful peach, white nectarine, apple flavors and fantastic acidity.  It was a great wine for our lunch!

2010 Unti Cuveé Blanc

My lunch was a great veggie pizza from the wood-fired oven!

While I was waiting for lunch these beauties pulled up…

L – 1959 Porsche 356 ; R – 1966 Porsche 356

Next stop Cypher Winery:  

Address: 3750 Highway 46 West, Templeton CA 93465
Phone: (805) 237-0055
Open Hours: 10am – 6pm daily
Tasting Fee: $10 (Keep the custom etched “O” Riedel glass)
Food Available: Co-located with Farmstand 46 restaurant
Picnic Area: Yes

Cypher is winery with a hip vibe that does some crazy blends, that fittingly have cool names like AnarchyHeretic, and Loco.  For example, their  Louis Cypher wine is a blend composed of 12 varieties of grapes – Teroldego (15%), Petite Verdot (14%), Souzao (13%), Petite Sirah (13%), Carignan (9%), Alicante Bouschet (9%), Syrah (6%), Tinta Cao (5%), Tinta Roriz (5%), Tannat (5%), Touriga Nacional (4%), and Zinfandel (2%). Definitely not your everyday red wine blend.  And that’s just one of their “extreme” wines.  But don’t get it twisted, the winery has some great vineyard sources, and takes winemaking seriously.  I think of their wines as seriously fun.  Oh, and if you’re so inclined, be sure to pick up a “Zin-Bitch” rub-on tattoo while you’re there!

Here’s the wine menu:

My favorite was the 2009 Anarchy ZMS – an unconventional blend of Zinfandel, Mourvedre, and Syrah

My two cents? – Recommended, especially if  you enjoy, bold, but a bit different types of wines.

Next stop – Tablas Creek:

Address:  9339 Adelaida Road  Paso Robles, CA
Phone: 
(805) 237-1231
Open Hours:  
10am – 5pm daily
Tasting Fee:
 $10 (Keep the glass; One complimentary tasting with wine purchase)
Picnic Area: Yes

Tablas Creek (“TCV”) is probably the best-known of all Paso Robles wineries specializing in Rhone style wines.  It is a partnership between Robert Haas, and Chateau de Beaucastel in the Chateauneuf du Pape region in FranceWhat I find interesting about TCV is that they specifically chose to establish themselves in Paso Robles because of the similarities of the soil conditions and climate of Paso Robles to Chateauneuf du Pape.  They went as far as to import vines from Chateauneuf du Pape.  The vines were propagated and grafted in their on-site nursery and used to plant their 120 acre organic vineyards. Check the full story here

Here’s their relatively newly remodeled tasting room, which is upscale, and spacious with a very knowledgeable tasting room staff.

Ah yes…the mothership is only 9009 km away!

We tasted these wines:

  • 2010 Grenache Blanc
  • 2010 Côtes de Tablas Blanc
  • 2010 Roussanne
  • 2011 Patelin de Tablas Blanc
  • 2010 Chardonnay Antithesis
  • 2011 Rose
  • 2010 Côtes de Tablas
  • 2009 Grenache
  • 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel

My favorite was the 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel, a superb blend Mourvèdre (40%), Syrah(28%),Grenache (27%), and Counoise (5%)

My two cents – Highly recommended. All the wines tasted got an “A” from me.  My favorite thing about TCV (besides the wines;-) is that all the wines are served at the proper temperature!  That’s a seemingly small, but all too important thing that most wineries seem to forget!

Next stop - Justin

Address: 11680 Chimney Rock Road, Paso Robles CA 93446
Phone: (805) 238-6932
Open Hours: Daily, 10am – 5pm
Tasting fee: $10 (waived with $50 or more purchase)
Food Available: Yes
Picnic Area: Yes

Justin was established in 1981 by Justin and Deborah Baldwin back when Paso was relatively unknown.  It was probably the first true “destination” winery in Paso.  Besides the winery there is the JUST Inn B&B, and Restaurant on site.  Justin is best known for their Bordeaux-style blends and single varietals.  Here a shot of the one of the tasting rooms…

which is located on a beautiful property…

We tasted these wines…

The tasting menu at Justin

  • 2010 Viognier
  • 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2009 Reserve Tempranillo
  • 2009 Justification (67% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot)
  • 2009 Isosceles (94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot)

My favorite was the 2009 Justification

 My two cents – Highly recommended, especially if you’re into Bordeaux-style wines.
The last (and the most fun) stop  of the day was Kiamie Wine Cellars

Kiamie Cellars

  
Address: 9750 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, CA
Phone: (805) 237-0055
Open Hours: 11am – 5pm daily
Tasting Fee: $5 (waived with purchase)
Food Available: No
Picnic Area: Well…sorta..
We got lucky on this one.  After tasting at Justin, we were hustling to get to another winery before it closed.  When we realized we weren’t going to make it, we stopped at the next winery we saw.  I’m glad we did.   Despite the fact that it was only about 10 minutes until closing time, Greg Johnson, one of the two owners, along with Aram Deirmenjian, greeted us with open arms, and more importantly, open bottles of very good wine!  Greg (pictured below ) is a guy with a lot of personality and a lot of fun.  He delivered  the one-liners of the day…
“Napa is for auto-parts”, and when I asked him how long he’s been in California (he’s from NY) he wise-cracked “Not long enough to lose the accent”.
We tasted these wines:
  • 2009 Kiamie White Kuvee
  • 2006 R’Own Style Blend
  • 2007 R’Own Style Blend
  • 2007 Meritage
  • 2006 Kiamie Kuvee
  • 2007 Kiamie Kuvee
My favorite wine was the 2007 Kiamie Kuvee a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Syrah, 9% Petit Verdot, 6% Zinfandel.
My two cents: Recommended, especially if you prefer a smaller winery with a more personal feel.
As we were leaving Kiamie, we asked Greg and a buddy of his for a recommendation for a place to eat.  They told us about Villa Nel Mondo, another B&B co-located with a winery (what a great idea!)

 For…

Wine of the Week: 2008 Cypher Winery “Cypher” Paso Robles Eclectic Red

My wine of the week for April 21-April 27 is the 2008 Cypher Winery “Cypher” Eclectic Red.

The Winery

If you haven’t been to Paso Robles in a couple of years, you may not be familiar with Cypher Winery.  It’s the latest venture of Christian Tietje, and his partner Susan Mahler.  It used to be known as Four Vines.  Tietje started Four Vines in 1994.  They made a name for themselves selling full-throttle hedonistic Zinfandel and Chardonnay.  They were acquired by Purple Wine Company in 2010.   Tietje remains on with Four Vines as a consulting winemaker.

Cypher offers an interesting collection of wines including the “Freakshow” line of wines, with names like “Anarchy”, “Heretic”, and “Peasant”.  On a recent trip to Paso Robles, I tasted through their lineup, and found the wines to very good to excellent.  This was my favorite.

Cypher Winery is co-located with Farmstand 46.  It’s a great place for lunch! They dish healthy gourmet foods, including fantastic sandwiches, and wood fire oven pizza, made from locally grown organic ingredients some of which are sourced from their “estate” produce.  The co-location with Cypher is no accident, Tietjethe winemaker for Cypherwas a chef in Boston before he was a winemaker, and is part of the joint venture that owns the place.

The Wine

Eclectic indeed!  This wine is composed of 12 varieties of grapes – Teroldego (15%), Petite Verdot (14%), Souzao (13%), Petite Sirah (13%), Carignan (9%), Alicante Bouschet (9%), Syrah (6%), Tinta Cao (5%), Tinta Roriz (a.k.a. Tempranillo-5%), Tannat (5%), Touriga Nacional (4%), and Zinfandel (2%).

According to the Cypher website here’s how the wine came to be:

6 years in the making… the quest to create “Cypher” originated from a Portuguese wine tasted by Christian that was big, tannic, and monstrous with a sexy mouth feel. “Cypher” is Christian’s version of the temptation he once tasted

Wow! 12 different varieties of grapes…

Cost: $40

Alcohol: 15.5%

513 Cased made

This is a well-made seriously fun wine with lots of personality.  My tasting notes follow:

Inky violet color with dark fruit, slightly earthy, and spicy aromas.  On the palate it’s big, and full-bodied with intense, bountiful ripe blackberry, blueberry, plum and vanilla spice flavors.  Medium finish. 

Pairing with food

This one screams grilled T-Bone, or some smoked baby back ribs to me….but who needs food?  This one would be just fine on its own!

Wine Of The Week – 2008 Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines Estate Blanc

My wine of the week for April 14-April 20 is the 2008 Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines Estate Blanc.

The Winery

Edward Sellers is an eponymous artisan winery producing small lots of  Rhone varietal wines, from their 30-acre vineyard in Paso Robles. Ed, who is an entrepreneur, sailor, and pilot, and his wife “discovered” Paso Robles in 2003, and instantly fell in love with the place.

I was introduced to Edward Sellers in 2010 when I attended the annual California Wine Festival in Santa Barbara.  Ed was pouring his wines at the Friday night “Sunset Rare And Reserve Wine Tasting”. I distinctly remember his wines standing head and shoulders above the rest that evening.  We made it a point to drop in his tasting room, which at the time was in downtown Paso, on our way back to the Bay Area.  That’s when I purchased a couple of bottles of this wine (and a few others).   Last year, after attending the same wine festival, again we made it a point to drop in at his new tasting room off  West Highway 46.

I most recently saw Ed again when he was pouring his wines the Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting in San Francisco (click here for my recap of the event).  I was only tasting red Rhone blends that day, so I missed the opportunity to taste 2009 version of this wine, Le Passage Estate.

Paso Robles has made a name for itself, especially for Rhône varietals.   According to edwardsellers.com:

It is Paso Robles’s climate, soils and vineyard diversity that makes Paso Robles ideally suited for growing the Rhône varieties of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc.

It’s no wonder the annual Hospice du Rhone is held in Paso Robles annually.

The Wine

This wine is classic white Rhône blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Marsanne.  What stand out for me about this wine is its outstanding balance.

2008 Edward Sellers Estate Blanc

My tasting notes follow:

Pale yellow color with pungent stone fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, and well-balanced with white peach, melon, and spice flavors. Medium long finish. Blend of Grenache Blanc(56%), Roussanne(28%), and Marsanne (16%). 14.1% Alcohol. 146 cases produced.

Pairing with food

White Rhône blends such as this wine are pretty versatile food wines.  They make fine sippers in the summertime, and but a wine such as this is hearty enough to be a great match with picnic fair, spicy Indian, and North African dishes.  Hmmm…I just recalled the Lobster Pot Pie, I had a Michael Mina a couple of years ago.  This would have been fabulous with it!

I really enjoyed this wine. I’m sorry I waited damn near 2 years to drink it though. Fortunately I’ve got another bottle.  It’ll be lucky to see summer;-)

Wine Of The Week – 2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel

It was a tough call for wine of the week for March 24-30.  Why?  I went to a big Rhone Rangers tasting  on March 25th and tasted dozens of wines!  But at the end of the day (several days thereafter actually), I kept reminiscing about the 2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel.

When I think a about a great wine, it brings to mind my experience of watching a movie with a great plot. For days thereafter, I find myself thinking about the nuances of the plot, perhaps replaying crucial scenes in my mind.  And often, upon further reflection, I find myself having a deeper appreciation for the movie.  It’s the same thing with a great wine for me.  I find myself reminiscing about the wine, sometimes for days afterward, and it brings me a bit of joy.  That was certainly the case with this wine.

Tablas Creek Vineyard (“TCV”) is a partnership between the Haas family, and the Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel of France.  The partners imported vines from the Perrin’s famed estate in Rhône to the Paso Robles where the vines were propagated and grafted in Tablas Creek’s nursery (for a complete history click here)

Espirit de Beaucastel - Image courtesy of Tablas Creek

I must confess though that I’m a sucker for Rhône blends. But what really struck me about this wine were two things, the remarkable balance it possesses, and the smooth creamy mouthfeel.  I’m definitely a believer in the synergies of blending. This bottling, which is TCV’s signature red Rhone blend, is based on Mourvèdre, but also has Syrah, Grenache, and Counoise in the blend.  What does each of the components add to the blend?  According to Tablas Creek…

The wine is based on the dark red fruit, earth, spice and mid-palate richness of Mourvèdre, with additions of Grenache for forward fruit, approachability and lushness, Syrah for mineral, aromatics, and back-palate tannins, and Counoise for brambly spice and acidity.

My tasting notes follow:

Intense dark red fruit, violet and spice aromas. Medium-full bodied, and well-balanced with vibrant dark red cherry, spice, and mineral flavors. Blend of Mourvèdre (40%), Syrah(28%),Grenache (27%), and Counoise (5%) (92 pts.)

I’ve got a bottle of the 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel that I’ve been trying to hold on to for a bit…wish me luck. Or better yet…willpower…I’m going to need it!

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2012 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting Recap

As a media guest, I attended the 15th annual “Celebration of American Rhone Wines” in San Francisco last weekend.  It was my first Rhone Rangers tasting.  Rhone Rangers is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the Rhone varietal wines produced in the U.S.  It was a huge, but well-organized two-day event.  Saturday featured educational seminars (including one called “Wine & Swine, A Pairing of American Rhone Wines And Bacon”  complete with a “Baconologist”!) and a fund raising winemaker dinner/auction. And Sunday, which I attended, featured more seminars and the Grand Tasting.

By my count, there were 114 wineries and 500 or so wines available for tasting!  With that many  wineries/wines I knew I needed a plan to maximize the 3 hours I set aside for the event.  I decided to only taste “GSM” (predominately composed of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre) blends, with 30 minutes at the end for what I call “taster’s choice” (more on that later).  When I attend an event like this, in addition to focusing on a single varietal or style of wine,  I try to further narrow my focus by tasting wines from wineries that are new to me.  That meant I was going to have to skip favorites like Bonny Doon, Core, Frick, Quivira, and Tercero.  That’s always a challenge for me because my vinous conscious seems to constantly whisper in my ear… “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.  Thus the “tasters choice” where I allow myself to a.) taste wines from some of my favorite wineries, and b.) the option of not writing tasting notes.

That was the plan.  But as Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf  once said, “No plan survives contact with the enemy”.  Well at least mine didn’t!  Not for this year anyway.  I quickly realized that “Red Blend” per the program, didn’t necessarily translate into GSMs. That’s not a bad thing, I love the diversity of style here in California as opposed to the more constrained Rhône models.  But, as a result, I vastly underestimated how many “Red Blend” wines were available.  I got through the A-L wineries (the wineries were organized in alphabetical order) when I realized I only had 30 or so minutes left for my “taster’s choice”.  Oh well, I did taste about four dozen very good to excellent wines. That’s a great day in my book…and there’s always next year!

On to the wines I sniffed, sipped and  (mostly) spit!

My favorite wines (rated 90 points or higher) were:

  • 2008 Calcareous Trés Violet
  • 2007 Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines Vertigo
  • 2008 Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines Le Thief
  • 2007 Hearthstone Vineyards and Winery Lodestone
  • 2009 Inspiration Vineyards Syrah
  • 2009 Jada Vineyard Hell’s Kitchen
  • 2009 JC Cellars Misc. Stuff
  • 2009 Jemrose Gloria’s Gem
  • 2009 Justin Vineyards & Winery Savant
  • 2011 Lagier Meredith Syrah Rosé
  • 2009 Lagier Meredith Syrah
  • 2010 Ridge Carignane Buchignani Ranch
  • 2009 Stage Left Cellars The Globetrotter
  • 2009 Stage Left Cellars The ExPat
  • 2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc
  • 2010 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas
  • 2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel

My complete tasting notes  and ratings follow:

  • 2010 Adelaida Version White - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Tropical fruit, peach, and floral aromas. Medium-bodied with tropical fruit, peach, and slight mineral flavors. Medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Adelaida Version Red - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Berry, and floral aromas. Medium-bodied smooth with dark cherry, raspberry flavors. Medium finish (88 pts.)

Maggie Tillman - Alta Colina

  • 2009 Alta Colina GSM - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Red fruit and oak aromas with ripe raspberry and cherry flavors. Smooth with a medium long finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 AmByth Estate Adamo - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Spicy,floral red berry aromas. On the palate, light-bodied with tart raspberry, cherry flavors. Blend of Grenache (59%), Mourvèdre (17%), Syrah (13%), and Counoise (11% (87 pts.)
  • 2009 AmByth Estate ReVera - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Dark red fruit, garrigue aromas. Light-bodied with tart dark cherry, and spice flavors. Blend of Mourvedre (57%), Grenache (22%), Syrah (11%), and Counoise (10%) (87 pts.)
  • 2009 AmByth Estate Maiestas - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Dark fruit, and slight floral aromas. Light-bodied with tart dark cherry blackberry flavors. Blend of Syrah (45%), Mourvedre (20%), Counoise (20%), and Grenache  (15%) (86 pts.)
  • 2011 Anglim Rosé - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Red fruit, and citrus aromas. Light-bodied, dry and well balanced with raspberry citrus flavors.  100% Syrah. (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Beckmen Vineyards Cuvée Le Bec - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
    Dark red fruit and herbs de provence aromas. Light-bodied with fruity slightly tart raspberry, dark cherry, and spice flavors (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Calcareous Trés Violet - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Pretty dark red fruit, violet, and baking spice aromas. Medium-bodied with black cherry, raspberry flavors. Blend of Syrah (42%), Mourvedre (29%), and Grenache (29%) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Caliza Winery Cohort - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Fresh blackberry, plum with a hint of musky aromas. Medium bodied with slightly tart blackberry, raspberry and hint of mocha flavors. Blend of Syrah (55%), Petite Sirah, (20%), Primitivo (20%) and Grenache (5%) (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Caliza Winery Azimuth - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Dark fruit, cinnamon/clove and oak aromas. Medium bodied, young with blackberry, cocoa, and cinnamon/clove flavors. (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Clos Saron Out of the Blue - USA, California, Sierra Foothills
    Red fruit, raisiny plum, and slight floral aromas. Light-bodied with good acidity, and tart cherry, plum flavors. Blend of Mourvèdre and Syrah. (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Clos Saron Holy Moly - USA, California, Sierra Foothills
    Smoky, raisiny cherry aromas. Raisiny tart baked cherry flavors. Blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre (87 pts.)
  • 2006 Clos Saron Syrah La Cuvée Mysterieuse - USA, California, Sierra Foothills
    Baked red fruits and slight oak aroma. Light-medium bodied with tart cherry flavors. Blend of Syrah and Merlot (86 pts.)
  • 2008 Cosa Obra Proprietor’s Blend - USA, California, Sonoma County
    Black currant, earthy, spicy aromas . Medium-bodied with blackberry and spice flavors. (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Cosa Obra Proprietor’s Blend - USA, California, Sonoma County
    Tight dark fruit and spice aromas. Medium-bodied and a bit tannic with blackberry, black cherry and spice flavors. Needs some time. (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Crystal Basin Cellars Victorie – Grand Reserve - USA, California, Sierra Foothills, El Dorado
    Dark red fruit with slight floral aromas. Light-bodied with black cherry, blackberry flavors. Blend of Mourvèdre (33%), Syrah (34%) and Grenache (33%). (86 pts.)
  • 2007 Curtis Reserve - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
    Smokey dark red fruit, clove and floral aromas. Medium-bodied with red currant, black cherry and spice flavors. A blend of Grenache (50%), Syrah (25%) and Mourvèdre (25%) (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Curtis Heritage Cuvée - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County
    Dark red fruit and slight resinous aromas. Light-bodied with tart cherry, raspberry flavors. Blend of Grenache (39%), Mourvèdre (26%), Cinsault (19%) and Syrah (16%) (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Domaine de la Terre Rouge Tête-à-Tête - USA, California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County
    Spicy red and black fruits, and oak aromas. Light-bodied with cherry, raspberry, and spice flavors. Blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre & Grenache Very good value at $18 (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Domaine de la Terre Rouge L’Autre - USA, California, Sierra Foothills
    Cherry, raspberry, and vanillin oak aromas. Approaching medium-bodied with black cherry, and vanilla flavors (88 pts.)

Edward Sellers of the eponymous winery

  • 2007 Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines Vertigo - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Smokey, baking spice, dark red fruit aromas. Medium-bodied, velvety with silky tannins, and dark cherry, raspberry, and vanilla spice flavors. Blend of Grenache (71%), Mourvèdre (16%), and Syrah(13%) (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines Le Thief - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Spicy cinnamon black fruits, and slightly musky aromas. Medium-bodied with black cherry, blackberry, and vanilla spice flavors. Blend of Syrah (56%), Mourvèdre (26%),Grenache (12%),and Cinsault (6%) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Folin Cellars Misceo - USA, Oregon, Southern Oregon, Rogue Valley
    Low-key red currant, cherry, and cedarwood aromas. Medium-bodied, and smooth with cherry, and red currant flavors. Blend of Syrah (50%), Mourvèdre (37%), and Grenache (13%) (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Hahn Winery GSM - USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey County
    Berry and spice aromas. Light-bodied, and smooth with blackberry, and raspberry flavors. Blend of Grenache (62%), Syrah (34%), and Mourvèdre (4%) (87 pts.)
  • 2007 Hearthstone Vineyards and Winery Slipstone Rhone - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Fruity cherry ,and spice aromas. Approaching medium-bodied with fruit-forward cherry, and raspberry flavors. Blend of Grenache (65%), and Syrah(35%) (88 pts.)
  • 2007 Hearthstone Vineyards and Winery Lodestone - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Plum, cherry and dried herb aromas. Medium-bodied with dark cherry, plum, blackberry flavors. Blend of Syrah (50%), Grenache (33%), Mourvèdre (17%) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Holly’s Hill Patriarche - USA, California, Sierra Foothills, El Dorado County
    Red fruit, with a touch of garrigue aromas. Medium-bodied with cherry, plum and vanilla flavors. Blend of Mourvèdre (60%), Syrah (23%), Grenache (14%), and Counoise (3%) (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Inspiration Vineyards Syrah - USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
    Fragrant red fruit, and floral aromas. Medium-full bodied with dark cherry, mocha, and vanilla spice flavors. Blend of Syrah (93%), Viognier (7%) (90 pts.)

Josh Messina pouring Jada wines

  • 2009 Jada Vineyard Hell’s Kitchen - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Fragrant red fruits, and floral aromas. Medium-bodied, fruit-forward, and smooth with raspberry, cherry, mocha and vanilla flavors. Blend of Syrah (32%), Grenache (31%), Mourvèdre (23%), and Tannat (14%) (92 pts.)
  • 2009 JC Cellars Misc. Stuff - USA, California
    Black and red berry, and spice aromas. Medium-bodied, and supple with vibrant black cherry, raspberry, vanilla spice flavors. Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Jemrose Gloria’s Gem - USA, California, Sonoma County, Bennett Valley
    Red fruit, white pepper, and cedarwood aromas. Medium-bodied with nicely balanced dark cherry, and black currant flavors. Blend of Syrah (65%), and Merlot (35%) (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Justin Vineyards & Winery Savant - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Spicy black and red fruit aromas hint of licorice aromas. Medium-bodied, and smooth with spicy black cherry, and cassis flavors. Blend of Syrah (65%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (35%) (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Kukkula Sisu - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Fruity red fruity, mocha, and a hint of musky/meaty aromas. Medium-full bodied with mixed black and red berry espresso flavors. Blend of Syrah(51%),Grenache (27%), and Mourvèdre (22%)(89 pts.)
  • 2011 Lagier Meredith Syrah Rosé - USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
    Pretty berry and melon aromas. Approaching medium-bodied, well-balanced and dry with cherry, raspberry flavors.100% Syrah (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Lagier Meredith Syrah - USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
    Dark red fruit, and pepper aromas. Medium-bodied with intense black cherry, raspberry, espresso flavors. (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Ridge Carignane Buchignani Ranch - USA, California, Sonoma County
    Black cherry, raspberry and slight floral smoky aromas. Full-bodied, robust, round with well-integrated tannins and black cherry, raspberry, and vanilla flavors. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Stage Left Cellars Syrah Alder Springs - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino
    Dark red fruit, sweet spice, and floral aromas. Medium bodied and nicely balanced with raspberry, strawberry, and a touch of mineral flavors. 100% Syrah. 13.7 % Alcohol (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Stage Left Cellars The Globetrotter - USA, California
    Red fruit, dried herbs, and slight earthy aromas. Medium-bodied, fruit, but balanced with ripe cherry and black raspberry flavors. Blend of Grenache (48%), Syrah (40%), and Mourvèdre (12%)(90 pts.)
  • 2009 Stage Left Cellars The ExPat - USA, California, Central Coast
    Dark red fruit, spice, and cedarwood aromas. Medium-bodied, balanced with vibrant dark cherry, raspberry, and spice flavors. Blend of Syrah(50%), Petite Sirah (33%), and Grenache (17%)(90 pts.)
  • 2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Tropical fruit, white peach, and floral aromas. Medium-bodied, and creamy with good acidity and peach and hint of mineral flavors. Blend of Grenache Blanc (45%), Viognier (34%), Roussanne (18%), and Marsanne (3%) 13.5% Alcohol (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Tablas Creek Côtes de Tablas Blanc - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Pretty floral and stone fruit aromas. Medium-bodied, and balance with white peach, and vanilla flavors. Blend of Viognier (54%), Grenache Blanc (30%), Marsanne (8%), and Roussanne (8%) 13.5% Alcohol (89 pts.)
  • 2011 Tablas Creek Rosé - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Watermelon and red fruit aromas. Approaching medium-bodied, and dry with cherry, strawberry and citrus on the back palate flavors. Blend of Mourvèdre (58%), Grenache (30%), and Counoise (12%) 14.5% Alcohol (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Sweet dark fruits, tobacco, and spice. Medium bodied and supple with black cherry, plum and spice flavors. Blend of 39% Syrah/36% Grenache/22% (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Intense dark red fruit, violet and spice aromas. Medium-full bodied, and well-balanced with vibrant dark red cherry, spice, and mineral flavors. Blend of Mourvèdre (40%), Syrah(28%),Grenache (27%), and Counoise (5%) (92 pts.)

My takeaways from the event?

  • Paso Robles, as a region is still kickin’ ass and taking names when it comes to Rhone!
  • There’s definitely a trend toward lower alcohol wines
  • Um…I’ll need a better plan (and more time) next year!
  • The state of Rhones in California? – Fantastic and seemingly getting better!

All in all, it was a great event!  It’s circled in red on my calendar for next year!

Paso Wine Man Strikes Again!

The good folks at the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance strike again! This time Paso Wine Man returns to start a bidding war at an otherwise lethargic auction. Enjoy!

In Vino Veritas

Paso Wine Man Redux

Another great video from the Paso Robles Wine Alliance, featuring Paso Wine Man!  Makes me want to go to Paso!  This one is promoting the Paso Robles Wine Festival

Related Video:

Paso Robles Zinfandel Man