It’s been hit or miss for me to meet with L’Aventure winemaker/owner Stephan Asseo. Met him at a tasting event once and then missed him at his winery the next time. So when day #3 of the Paso Cab Collective ended and I got a text from writer Michael Cervin inviting me to come along on an interview with Asseo, I sort of jumped for it.
Of course, this visit was to be almost a miss too as we showed at 9 a.m., he had us on the books for 11 a.m. and was in the midst of racking. (For my Wine 101ers – Wikipedia definition for my wine 101ers: Racking “is a method in wine production of moving wine from one barrel to another using gravity rather than a pump, which can be disruptive to a wine.”)
So Asseo briefly stopped what he was doing, got us set up in the tasting room, and then did what any passionate winemaker would do, he went back and forth, taking breaks from his work to talk with us. And he left us in the very competent care of his daughter Chloe, the new Sales, Marketing and Communications Director.
Prompted by Michael’s questions, and her own desire to share the L’Aventure story, Chloe told us that the “whole idea of Paso Robles is blends” and each region of the huge AVA does what’s best for their own terroir. While Asseo makes outstanding Rhônes others in Paso are doing what they love with Bordeaux blends, etc.
When Asseo popped back in he told us that “marketing” does not drive his winery and instead, and here he pointed to his nose, “feeling” drives it. Asseo said that L’Aventure is small in comparison to the other larger Paso wineries, as he produces about 6,000 to 8,000 cases each year. He also “takes advantage of diversity” offered in the “Burgundian spirit, slope, exposure…” and in Paso has found the “magic spot as you get natural acidity.”
As Asseo headed back into the winery, Chloe took over again. She described the new tasting room that would be built over a new half circle of caves. As the last time I visited I had heard about the caves I thought that by now they would be done. Chloe said that after the original plans were approved her father decided to add the new tasting room, and the county scrapped the original approval and started the process all over again.
I asked how the wine was sold, to restaurants, stores or their wine club. Chloe explained that though the tasting room is appointment only, it allows them to be dedicated to each visitor, and now, with this in place, the “focus is on the direct consumer” becoming a club member.
Where Bordeaux Meets the Rhône Tasting
(I don’t do numbers, I liked them all very much, and I want to join club too!)
Rosé Estate 2013
39% Syrah, 27% Grenache, 26% Mourvedre, 8% Petit Verdot
Refreshing, floral, peach, cantaloupe, honeydew with a hint of wet gravel.
50% Syrah, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Petit Verdot
Deep and dark plums, blackberry, pepper, tannins.
Côte A Côte 2011
40% Syrah, 38% Mourvedre, 22% Grenache
Juicy fruit, blueberry, blackberry, mint, green pepper, spicy, a long finish with the tannins holding it all together with no one note in the forefront.
53% Syrah, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot
Wine was just bottled in March, Chloe would like members to hold 6 months (if they can!) and said they were the “last one in Paso to make this blend.”
Dark fruit, toasted oak, cigar, pepper.
Estate Cuvée 2011
48% Syrah, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Petit Verdot
Blackberry, blueberry dusty, black pepper. My favorite.
Chloe 2013 barrel sample
With about six months in barrel, about 73% Syrah and the rest Grenache, they made about 150 cases. Even with that little bit of time in oak you got all that dark fruit on the palate. Can’t wait for the finished product and another L’Aventure.