My last column hurt me more than it hurt you; so, let the healing begin. You know I’m a big fan and I do believe the region does many things well. This column is a homage to producers and wines both familiar and under the radar.
This article is a homage to producers and wines both familiar and under the radar from Paso Robles.
Gary Eberle of his eponymously named winery is Paso’s godfather of Syrah, being perhaps the first to see this region as a warmer version of France’s Rhône Valley. Another early adopter of the region is Turley Wine Cellars; its Presenti Vineyard Zinfandel comes from one of Paso Robles’ true Old-Vine vineyards. Turley also sources much of the fruit for their popular Old Vines and Juveniles bottlings from here. Another Rhône ranger is Tablas Creek, the collaboration of Château de Beaucastel owners the Perrin Family and Vineyard Brands owners the Haas Family. Tablas Creek brought vine cuttings from Beaucastel and produces an extensive line of classic red and white Rhône blends. The red Esprit de Tablas features a substantial dose of some of the best Mourvèdre grown in California and truly evokes the Southern Rhône.
While there are many other legacy producers making Rhône, as well as Bordeaux-style wines, there are also pioneers who are branching out to other grapes. I gathered up some of these under-the-radar vinos and had a staff tasting at the palatial Tahoe Weekly offices where we matched the wines with Mediterranean-style dishes created by food editor and caterer extraordinaire Priya Hunter (in this edition and at TheTahoeWeekly.com). Here’s the skinny:
- The 2016 Barr Estate Winery Albariño and the 2016 SummerWood Marsanne were pleasant surprises to the crew who mostly were of the: “I don’t usually like white wines” persuasion, but ended up raving about both. I’m not surprised because the Albariño was a lovely dead-ringer for old-school Spanish versions, with beams of saline and spice and a squeeze of citrus. Although bone dry, the Marsanne was full-bodied and had signature honey, honeysuckle and tree fruit notes that make this grape a favorite among the wine savvy.
- The alternative reds were also a bit unfamiliar to the staff and also gained fans. Admittedly, a bit more New World style than a Tuscan version, the 2015 Clesi Wines Sangiovese was soft and round with a beam of ripe cherry and winter spice notes. The 2014 Niner Wine Estates Cabernet Franc brought a nice balance of this grape’s high notes and the dark fruit flavors it achieves in Paso Robles. The big hit was the 2015 McPrice Myers Grenache, not a surprise because these guys always rock their Grenache. Dry, spicy and full of licorice and dark fruits, this was as complex and sophisticated as many a Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
P.S., Paso Robles, I do love you.