And Sunday morning pretty much started as Saturday had ended. Stillman Brown, owner of Zeppelin Winery, texted me at 7 AM to let me know that he was on his way with the Colossus Syrah I had purchased from him previously, as well as some new wines he wanted us to taste.
So at 8:30 in the morning, before breakfast [!] but at least after a cup of coffee, we all found ourselves sitting with Stillman Brown in the hotel lobby and tasting some of his latest releases: 2011 Pink Zeppelin [Grenache based], two 2009 Black Zeppelins [one was Petite Sirah and the other a blend of Petite Sirah and Syrah], as well as his 2007 Longboard Syrah in the half-bottle. Stillman’s wines are always well made, but the Black Zeppelin blend that morning really stood out for me during what was admittedly a somewhat surreal [albeit fun] experience.
Fortified with breakfast and a long walk to clear my head a bit, we had some time before the start of the J Dusi pick-up party, so Karen and I headed into downtown Paso. We strolled a bit until we came to one of my favorite places in town – Di Raimondo’s Italian Market & Cheese Shop. We sampled some cheeses and salamis, and purchased some to bring home with us.
Then we headed over to the J Dusi pick up party, which was held at the family home on the historic Dante Dusi vineyard. There, we connected back up with our friends Mike and Carey. It was also great to see our friends from Santa Clarita – Chuck and Heidi Wiedeman. And Janell Dusi had her whole family there as well, and they were pouring some marvelous wines – 2011 Pinot Gris, 2009 Zinfandel, 2009 Fiorento [blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, and Syrah], 2009 Sabroso Rojo [Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon] and the Non Vintage Syrah La Casita [2008 and 2009 Syrah], as well as the famous J Dusi Grappa. Pizzas were provided by Ciro Pasciute of Skipping Stone Productions and even though the event had to be moved indoors due to the weather [including a sudden hailstorm], I think it is safe to say that everyone had a marvelous time.
After leaving J Dusi, it was time for our final tasting room stop of the weekend – Clavo Cellars. Mike and Carey had already planned on going with us, and we had talked Chuck and Heidi into joining us as well. So, we started our long arduous drive from the Dante Dusi vineyard to the Clavo Cellars tasting room in Templeton. Oh wait. I mean we left the vineyard, turned right on Main Street, drove over the 101 freeway and five minutes later we were there.
Paso Robles wines are known for their big “in your face” style, and it is a style I really like, so long as it is the fruit that is being emphasized. But for people who complain that Paso wines lack finesse and are just alcoholic fruit bombs, I always suggest they try Clavo. Owner/winemaker Neil Roberts manages a few dozen Central Coast vineyards, and gets his hands on great fruit and turns it into outstanding fruit-forward yet elegant wines.
Neil was running late for our appointment, but his stand-in Bob Deason did an excellent job tasting us through Clavo’s lineup of Rhone, Spanish and Bordeaux varietals, until Neil showed up. Clavo’s whites [Viognier, Albarino and Vermentino] are some of the best I’ve had, and I am really fond of his reds as well, especially his Petite Sirah. The entire group had a great time.
Our weekend was coming to a close. The six of us finished up with a great dinner at Artisan, along with another bottle of Turley Cinsault and a bottle of Stillman’s Colossus Syrah, just in case we hadn’t had a massive enough wine that weekend. The end of another great weekend in Paso Robles.
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.