To those that know me it is no secret that I am in love with Paso Robles. Yes, I still collect wines from France and Italy but Paso is growing to become a second Napa Valley in my opinion. This area has a wide variety of wines to select from over 300 vineyards producing many different varietals. This includes both “Old World” and “New World” styles as single varietals and blends. Even hard to find varietals such as Tannat, Picpoul, Carignan, etc. Thanks to the dedication of the Rhone Rangers we see a lot of diversity in California grown Rhone wine varietals.
Recently, there has been a new push in the Paso region where Cabernet Sauvignon is being promoted. This push was kicked off by Daniel Daou of Daou Vineyards. Since the establishment of the Daou Vineyards the Daou brothers, George and Daniel, have given dedication to this grape varietal resulting in the newly formed Cab Collective. Daniel Daou discovered that there were a few Cabernet Sauvignon wines being produced in Paso that were not gaining the notoriety that they should. The Cab Collective was organized and a small group of Cabernet Sauvignon producers are working hard to show the quality of this varietal from this region.
It is this variety and availability that led to an exciting adventure for my wife and friends of mine in the Paso Robles region. A fellow colleague/friend from work, Jordan Siperstein, and his wife Natasha asked if I would show them around Paso. My goal was to provide them with the best experience possible in one day. Being young and having such an interest in wines is priceless. I even see this in my son and become envious that I was not educated at an earlier age.
Our First stop was J Dusi Vineyard where we were honored to have Janelle Dusi present to pour and discuss her various wines. J Dusi has a wide breath of varietals and blends to captivate everyone’s palate, in my opinion. For this tasting she poured:
· 2012 Pinot Grigio
· 2011 Zinfandel
· 2010 Syrah Caterinas Vineyard
· 2011 Syrah Caterinas Vineyard
· 2011 Sly Blend (no pun intended) – 50% Tempranillo 30% Grenache 20% Syrah
· 2010 Fiorento – 40% Zinfandel, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Sangiovese
· 2011 Carignan – 100%
· 2009 J Dusi Zinfandel Port
· NV(no vintage) Zinfandel Grappa
The tasting at J Dusi provided a great introduction to typical California varietals as well as some unique old world varietals such as Carignan, Sangiovese and Tempranillo. Add to this the beautiful fortified Zinfandel Port accompanied with some dark chocolate and you are set. All of the woman at our tasting loved this wine. Though Janelle was not pouring her Grappa she was kind enough to give Jordan and Natasha a small taste. Though it is a distilled liquor it has very unique characteristics of the Zinfandel skin and seed ruminants that are used to create this beauty. It is quite different.
For our second stop we visited Tablas Creek Winery where we met with Cindy Shear. This winery provided an introduction to wines that are made in California but showcase the vines and techniques from their sister winery Chateau de Beaucastel in France. The winery in France only produces Chateauneuf-Du-Pape and Cotes-Du-Rhone doing both red and white styles of each. From the opening of Tablas Creek until 2010 their signature wine carried the name Esprit de Beaucastel showing a link between the French and American wineries. In 2010, Tablas Creek changed the name of this wine to Esprit de Tablas.
The link is still present as seen in their wine processing techniques. The one big difference is the blend of the Chateauneuf-Du-Pape from France verses California. In France Chateau de Beaucastel uses all 13 of the sanctioned grapes allowed in this wine style. Tablas Creek only uses 4 of the 13 sanctioned grapes. Is this to suit the palates of the California based drinkers or is it due to the terroir influence on the grapes that require a different blend to be successful? Another question when I return to Paso. The wines that were poured for us by Cindy were:
· 2012 Viognier
· 2012 Vermentino
· 2012 Picpoul Blanc
· 2011 Mourvedre
· 2011 Full Circle Pinot Noir
· 2011 Patelin Tablas – 52% Syrah, 29% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre, 1% Counoise
· 2011 Cotes de Tablas – 49% Grenache, 28% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre, 8% Counoise
· 2011 Esprit de Tablas – 40% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Counoise
· 2011 Tannat – 95% Tannat, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
This concludes the first half of our day in Paso Robles…stay tuned for the conclusion which includes Daou Vineyards and Denner Vineyards.