GARAGISTES – (gar-uh-zhē-stuh) n, Fr. – A term originally used in the Bordeaux region of France to denigrate renegade small-lot wine makers, sometimes working in their garage, who refused to follow the “rules.” Now a full-fledged movement responsible for making some of the best wine in the world.
Paso Robles is Perlis country. He has been our Paso Correspondent, so to speak, for a couple of years now. Low and behold, although he had run some pre-event articles for the upcoming Paso Garagiste festival, he was unable to attend and asked if Eddie and I could take his and Karen’s spots.
Oh, what a tough job we have, right? Well, it’s not exactly easy to make time for a six-hour round trip to attend a two-hour press event, but, I figured that after the event I would have lunch in Paso and visit a couple of wineries before heading home.
Again, it proved not to be so simple. It started like this:
The Windfall Farm property, which my husband said was more like the Ponderosa (TV home of the Cartwrights), is an awe-inspiring location. The former horse stalls, that were now home for two to five tasting tables, were open and inviting.
We started at the back of the building, with the intention of getting to the front within our two-hour window. As we advanced from stall to stall, we checked our watches only to realize that the winemakers were far too interesting and we lingered far too long, and had 20 minutes left on the clock and had only met with half of them.
We quickly zigzagged through the remaining stalls, only stopping where no one else was waiting in a ridiculous attempt to be fair with our time and cover as much as we could. However, we were ushered out with the rest of the press, on time.
(Note: The amount of time given to press is standard. This is not a complaint aimed at the organizers, the winemakers or myself. However, with that said, these small-lot winemakers cannot get their wine tasted by other means as most are sans tasting rooms. My hope is that the public tasting later held that afternoon multiplied how many people were able to learn about the winemakers. I’ll do my job in writing about it and I hope that the public will do theirs by telling all of their friends about the Garagiste movement, and specifically, which wineries they were charmed by.)
Of the wines we were able to try I was most charmed by:
Bodega De Edgar
I loved everything I tasted:
2010 Toro de Paso (Merlot, Tempranillo, Grenache, Mourvedre)
2010 E-Square (A nickname for Edgar Torres and his wife. Syrah and Grenache)
2010 Mis Pasos (Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo.)
2009 L’entrée Malbec (Spice rack!)
2010 L’entrée Malbec (Perfumy aroma and meaty taste.)
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Nice balance)
2010 Basque Blend (Stewed cherries, cigar, long finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec.)
2009 Riesling, Riven Rock Vineyard (The Italian winemaker nailed this one with caramel apple, lemon-line and a POP! of sweet cantaloupe melon.)
2010 Riesling, Riven Rock Vineyard (Jasmine, honeysuckle with a mouth-coating viscosity.)
2009 Pinot Noir Gloria (Cherry, mushroom and a hint o’mint.)
Filipponi Ranch Cellars
Everything they poured:
2010 Edna Valley Chardonnay (Can you say, “Oak, butter and fruit?” I did.)
2010 Paso Robles Syrah
2010 Paso Robles Mourvedre
2010 Lorenzo (A Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre blend)
All of their varietals are Italian, which winemaker Stephanie Terrizzi called “pizza wines.” And again, I liked them all, great food wines.
2010 Vermentino (Butter, jasmine, viscous.)
2010 il Campo Red (A blend)
2010 French Camp Vineyard Aglianco
2009 Luna Matta Vineyard Nebbiolo
Ground Effect Wines
2011 Gravity Check White Wine (Yes, the winemaker is a mountain bicyclist. I liked the crispness of this blend of Albarino, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Gris)
2010 Henson Viognier (Honey, spice and melon)
2008 Henson Syrah, Chalone
Janell Dusi is a fave of Mike Perlis. I became a fan too:
2010 Zinfandel Dante Dusi Vineyard (Black olives, robust plums and a perfect balance of spice and pepper.)
2010 Syrah Caterinas Vineyard
2009 Fiorento (Blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Carignane.)
2007 Zinfandel Port (Perfect.)
JK Wine Company
2009 Katin Viognier
2009 Katin Grenache Blanc
2009 Katin Syrah, Glenrose Vineyard
2009 Arada Las Ramblas (Spanish style with Viognier, Chardonnay, Albarino and Grenache Blanca)
2011 White Hill Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills (Outstanding)
2010 Golden Slope Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills
2011 Mourvedre Rose, Happy Canyon, Vogelzang Vineyard
Les Deux Chats
Paso grapes, winemakers Chris and Patty Connolly live here in Valencia. I’ve reviewed their wines before, and I’m a member of their club.
2011 Flora Rose (Had a total of 9 varietals, nice balance of fruit and acidity.)
2010 Mistletoe Blend (Dark fruit, pepper, mushroom. A blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.)
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
Mr. Stillman Brown, brazenly working the room in a pink bubble gum colored suit, matching sunglasses, and bleached blond hair…had a way about him. I felt that even without the eye-catching clothes, this man could garner attention. And his wines definitely did:
2009 Black Zeppelin Central Coast Red Wine (Smoky plums, cracked pepper, cigar.)
2011 Colossus Syrah, Paso Robles (Bright, black cherry, balanced…and fun to drink.)
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 Rose (A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Primitivo.)
Vines on the Marycrest
The first time I tasted Victor and Jenni Abascal’s wines were at The Wine Classic, years ago, at Cal Arts, and they just keep getting better:
2011 At Last (A blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc)
2009 Heart of Glass (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, my favorite blend.)
2009 My Generation (Zinfandel, Syrah, Mourvedre and Petite Sirah.)
How did it all end? We drove over to Artisan Paso Robles (http://www.artisanpasorobles.com/) for an outstanding lunch – BLT with shrimp and Bacon Tots – and drove home. We were tired. If we do this again: Spending the night!
Aaron Wines, Alta Colina Vineyards, Ambyth Estate, Anglim Winery, Argot Wines, Barton Family, Bodega de Edgar, Bodegas M, Bon Niche Cellars, Caliza Winery, Cayucos Cellars, Center of Effort, Changala Winery, Cloak and Dagger Wines, Cutruzzola Vineyards, Edmond August Wines, Filipponi Ranch Cellars, Giornata, Ground Effect Wines, Henson Wines, J Dusi, Jacob Toft, JK Wine Company, Kaleidos Winery, La Filice, Les Deux Chats, Liquid Farm, Luminesce, Nicora, Paix Sur Terre, Paso Port Wines, Per Cazo Cellars, Pipestone Vineyards, Ranchero Cellars, Rangeland Wines, Red Zeppelin Winery, Rendarrio Vineyards, Sinor La Vallee, St. Hilaire, Stage Left Cellars, STANGER Vineyards, Thomas Alexander Wines, Two Shepherds, Vin Alegre, Vines on the Marycrest, Von Holt Wines, Westberg Cellars and Zin Alley.
An annual festival celebrating the artisan winemakers of Paso Robles and the Central Coast of California and beyond. Find the best from high-quality, small-lot winemakers at Paso Garagiste.