Paso Robles Trip Part Two

Clos Solene

I was now ready for my final tasting at Paso Underground: the wines of Clos Solene

Winemaker Guillaume Fabre came from France to Paso Robles. While building Clos Solene, which he has named after his wife, he worked as assistant winemaker at L’Aventure. He has recently left L’Aventure and is devoting himself full-time to Clos Solene.

Michael Perlis cropped profile picOn my visit, we tasted the following wines:

2012 Hommage Blanc – 60% Roussanne, 40% Viognier, grapes from Booker, Russell Family and Saxum Vineyards.

2013 La Rose – 55% Syrah, 35% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, grapes from the Russell Family Vineyard.

2012 La Petite Solene – 55% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, grapes from the Russell Family Vineyard.

2012 Harmonie – 60% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 8% Mourvedre, grapes from Russell Family and Caliza Vineyards.

2012 Sweet Clementine – 97% Grenache, 3% Syrah, grapes from the Russell Family Vineyard.

These wines were truly some of the most exceptional wines I have tasted in Paso Robles – and I’ve tasted some pretty excellent ones as the wines in this region just keep getting better and better. But, the thing that struck me most about these wines, across the board, is that in addition to the purity of the fruit being expressed, these wines were incredibly elegant. Definitely worth seeking out.

Now Paso Underground isn’t the only place to find some great up-and-coming small winemakers –

MCV Wines

Matt Villard of MCV Wines is pouring tastes of his excellent Petite Sirah based blends at Cellarmates (2975 Limestone Way) in Paso Robles. When we visited him, he was currently out of everything but his tasty 2013 “Pink” a blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah, Grenache and Tannat. We were also treated to tastes of the following not yet released wines:

2012 “Red”, a blend of about 50% Petite Sirah, with Grenache, Syrah and a small amount of Viognier.

2012 “1105” – 66% Petite Sirah, 24% Syrah, 9% Grenache and 1% Viognier.

2012 Petite Sirah – 100% PS from the Rosewynn Vineyard.

Before I go any further, did you figure out what “1105” means? I had to ask. It’s actually pretty simple. MCV are Matt Villard’s initials, of course. But when you look at the letters as Roman numerals, they translate as 1105.

The underlying theme of Petite Sirah is evident throughout these wines. But, with such tasty Petite, along with the other varietals mixed in, I am certainly not complaining.

If you noticed, Matt uses some Tannat, a fairly uncommon varietal. He is also planning to start incorporating other grapes, such as Petit Verdot into his blends and Torrontes as a standalone white wine. With his small production and since he’s already been discovered by the likes of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, among others, you should check these wines out very soon.

ONX Wines

Keeping with the theme (for now) of fairly new Paso Robles wineries, ONX Wines released their first wines with the 2008 vintage, and have really made quite a splash with what I like to refer as their Rhone-blends-with-a-twist.  I first tasted some of the ONX wines at the Family Winemakers event in Pasadena, and was really looking forward to tasting more of their lineup. I was also very excited about touring their vineyards, as I had heard that the tour was truly awesome, although the idea of riding around on a mule made me a little nervous.

Well, that was a little silly, as I soon found out when we were met at the gate by Associate Winemaker Jeff Strekas, that the mule was the 4-wheeled variety, not 4-legged. Jeff drove us around the vineyard, explaining all the things that make the property special, with frequent stops to taste the different ONX wines he had brought along. And, when I realized that he had interned at Mollydooker in Australia (my favorite winery down under) we had even more to talk about.

As I said, the tour included tasting through some of the latest releases from ONX. That day we tasted:

2012 Field Day – 59% Sauvignon Blanc, 41% Viognier

2013 Indie – 100% Rose of Tempranillo

2011 Mad Crush – 65% Grenache, 21% Tempranillo, 14% Mourvedre

2011 Reckoning – 64% Syrah, 20% Petite Sirah, 8% Zinfandel, 4% Tempranillo, Grenache 4%

2011 Praetorian – 64% Tempranillo, 12% Malbec, 12% Grenache, 12% Mourvedre

All the wines are from estate-grown grapes.

Rhone varietals do exceedingly well in Paso Robles, as do Spanish Varietals and, of course, Zinfandel. The wines all showed their Paso roots, but with more than typical complexity. They tasted familiar, yet at the same time unique due to the interesting blends. Buy these wines. You should visit if you can, because the mule tour is definitely an experience not to be missed. But if you can’t visit, still – buy these wines.


Yes, I know, Turley Wine Cellars isn’t exactly new. (Although to me it will always be the newcomer who purchased the historic Pesenti property.) But, a visit to Paso Robles wouldn’t be complete for me without a visit to Turley. And, there were, in fact, a few new things to report on at their most recent semi-annual pick-up party.

Turley is known for its big reds, mostly Zinfandel, although also some Petite Syrahs and a few other things. Periodically, they release a white blend, known as The White Coat, named for Larry Turley’s days as an ER physician. Typically, it is a Rhone blend, but the latest release, the 2012, included not only Roussanne and Grenache Blanc, but also Vermentino from the Cobb Vineyard in Amador, which was acquired by Turley when they purchased the old Karly winery.

Also new was the 2012 Tecolote Red Wine blend of Grenache and Carignane from a block in the Pesenti Vineyard that had been planted in the 1920s. And speaking of the Pesenti Vineyard, a special treat for pick-up party attendees was being able to taste the 2001 Pesenti Zinfandel – this was a real eye opener for people who don’t think Zins can age. Still tasted amazingly fresh, yet had really come together into a pretty complex wine.

Finally, another new release was the 2012 Kirschenmann Vineyard Zinfandel from Lodi. These vines were planted in 1915, and the vineyard is now owned and farmed by Turley winemaker Tegan Passalacqua. Just another great addition into the Turley Zinfandel line-up.

Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting ( Michael can be contacted at


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