As most of you know my writing skills and interests are more in the scientific realm. I generally do not write articles about my travels or experiences with wineries and vintners. Mike Perlis is a master at this and knows a lot more about the history and changes in the Paso Robles area than I ever will. This trip was special in many ways so I am going to attempt to write a series of articles for you on our adventure. First, Tracy and I were celebrating our 37 year wedding anniversary. Second, the unstable aerospace work environment that I am a part of has been weighing heavily on mine and my colleagues shoulders this year. I needed a break. This trip will be released in a few articles so here we go.
Friday, October 26,2012, Tracy and I drove to L’Aventure Winery for our first stop in the Paso Robles Wine region. During our last visit to Paso Robles, Derrick and Maureen McKaughan along with Larry and Gloria Stahly introduced us to this winery. It is off the beaten path, literally, and requires a bit of travel on a dirt road. The adventure is well worth it so don’t give up.
Stephan Asseo is the owner and winemaker of the L’Aventure Winery. The winery was established in 1982, following his education at L’Ecole Oenologique de Macon, Burgundy, France. He also established Domaine Courteillac in Bordeaux followed by purchasing Chateau Fleur Cardinal and Chateau Robin in the Cotes de Castillion, Bordeaux later with his family. The influence from his education and heritage in French wines are very evident in what he produces. I fell in love as soon as I tried them.
On this trip Tracy and I were greeted by Robert Dudley (Tasting Manager) and Leanne Kudler (L’Aventure staff). Both were cheerful and accommodating setting up an ambiance that we were part of the L’Aventure family. During this tasting, Tracy and I were treated to a complete lineup of their wines. I had met Robert on our last trip and realized that he has a deep passion and belief in what Stephan is doing. Going through the wine selection he provided intricate details about each wine from A to Z. Being a rocket scientist I appreciated such details. The key thing that I noticed in all of their literature was an unusual statement, “Where Bordeaux meets Rhone”.
Reading articles on Stephan it is evident that he does not want to be influenced or restricted by AOC guidelines like French vintners. Rather, he wants to be allowed to show his creativity and to shine using grapes from Paso where you get a little more fruit presence. Then he does the unthinkable by adding Rhone varietals, such as Syrah, with Bordeaux varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. The Estate Cuvee and Optimus Estate both follow this recipe and both also add a little bit of Petite Verdot to round out the picture thus adding a deep purple color to the wine as well as a spicy, floral aroma. These two wines are my absolute favorites.
This is not the end of the adventure from Stephan Asseo. He also produces a wine that follows Southern Rhone guidelines called Cote A Cote. The largest percentage is from Grenache (42%) where he throws a left hook at you by adding Syrah which is a Northern Rhone varietal yielding a wine that is absolutely marvelous. The Syrah tends to give you a little more of that California influence of fruit forward with the blueberries but the overall balance and effort I believe is a fantastically creative version of a French style wine where both North and South Rhone varietals are used.
This creativity continues in the Rosé where he blends 70% Syrah, 20% Mouvedre and 10% Grenache. It is an Estate Rosé meaning all of the grapes are grown on the estate. This is an excellent Rosé being somewhat dry on the palate like the fine Rosés of Provence France. As with his other wines he chooses to showcase the Syrah where Rosés from Provence France use Mouvedre as the primary or base grape.
Now let’s talk about his white varietals. For my Grape of the Night group we recently did Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blancs and I mentioned during the evening that L’Aventure makes a Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc that does follow the French AOC guidelines. The two (2) varietals used are Roussanne (51%) and Grenache Blanc (49%). Since both of these varietals carry a lot of body and flavor it is absolutely delicious. It has great mouth feel and definitely has some weight to it for a white wine. Great selection for white wine drinkers.
L’Aventure Winery and staff show a lot of passion for what they are doing and it shows in their products. Stephan Asseo summed up the goal of the winery best with the following statement, “The blended varieties are the corner stone of our production…blending increases the authenticity of the complexity of the creation as a whole.” I could not agree more and he has done a fantastic job. They are a small winery producing limited quantity of high quality wines for a reason, they want the consumers to get the best Rhone style wine with as much of a California flare as possible. If you get into the Paso Robles area put this on your “must stop list”, you will not be disappointed. Robert and Leanne will provide you with a wine adventure like no other.