I’ve known Neil Roberts of Clavo Cellars for some time, having met him at several winetastings. I’ve been a fan of his Petite Sirahs for awhile, and when our paths would cross he often invited me to visit him in Paso Robles to taste through his full line-up, as well as promising me some barrel tasting.
I saw Neil recently at the Paso Robles event that was held in Los Angeles. As usual, I was very impressed with the Petite Sirah; that was a no-brainer. But, I was also bowled over by his other wines, especially the whites, and I knew it was time to take him up on his offer.
We had scheduled a meeting with him in the early afternoon over at Midnight Cellars, where Neil makes his wines. I had let him know in advance that there would be eight[!] of us. I’m not sure that’s what he had in mind when he extended the original invite, but there he was with a case of glasses ready for us to taste through what he had in barrel.
As I mentioned in a previous article, Neil manages vineyards for Edward Sellers. Actually, Neil manages over 30 vineyards around the Central Coast, and the fruit from some of those vineyards goes into his wines.
We started with Viognier that was being fermented in a cement tank. We then got to compare it to the same Viognier that was being fermented in a barrel. Ultimately, they will be blended together.
I’d like to be able to tell you all the wines we tasted that afternoon, but I quickly lost track. For the next hour or so, Neil educated us and entertained us, dipping his wine thief into barrel after barrel.
We squeezed between barrels and Neil climbed over barrels, providing us with samples of pretty much everything he had going. Then we got to the end. It would have been sad, but Neil saved the best for last. His first-ever Malbec was in barrel, and it was nothing short of incredible! By then I had already decided to join his wine club, but if I had been on the fence, this surely would have pushed me over.
As we thanked Neil and said our goodbyes, he invited us to come to his tasting room in Templeton the next day. Promising to do so, we headed off to our next appointment.
Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. “It is common practice for wine industry workers, wine writers and winery club members [and members of their party] to receive complimentary tastings and discounted purchases. Unless it is otherwise noted, it should be presumed that this is the case.”