It seems everybody who goes to Paso now has a different experience, since there are now so many wineries to choose from. This was our latest.
We try to get to Paso about twice per year, usually timed to the Turley pick-up parties. In the old days [getting redundant, huh?], we used to go to several more wineries each day we would be there. Nowadays, we try to pick a couple of old favorites and a couple of new ones to try.
We are not really fans of the bigger and/or busier tasting rooms, although we still love to visit Tobin James [disclaimer – we are in their wine club]. Always a fun experience, but a far cry from when we first discovered Toby’s wines at a small tasting room called Templeton Corners, on Main Street in Templeton [where else?]. Templeton Corners specialized in pouring wines produced by wineries that didn’t have their own tasting rooms. [I don’t think Toby even had his own winery yet, let alone a tasting room.]
Although we usually try to stop by Tobin James on the way into Paso, we got there too late Friday for this. Instead, we just made it in time for our reservations at Artisan, one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. Had a great dinner and headed over to Cambria.
The next morning, we went to the Turley party and had a terrific time. Always fun to talk to Larry Turley and winemaker Ehren Jordan, as well as a bunch of dedicated Turley lovers of all ages.
Before heading back into Cambria for lunch, we stopped at 4 Vines for a tasting of their latest releases. Very nice Zins and red Rhones [disclaimer: we’re in their club, too], although I am not sure my humor was appreciated when I said their wines would go very well with the “live venison” we saw grazing on the adjacent hill.
Sunday morning, we made an early stop at Castoro, one of the older wineries in the area. They are always pouring a plethora of nice wines and the people are very friendly.
Then we headed over to our appointment at Ecluse Winery. For this, I owe Vic at All Corked Up a debt of gratitude. They had recently paid him a visit so he could taste their wines. [I think one of his customers had mentioned ACU to the owners of Ecluse.] Knowing what we like, he suggested we go visit them.
He was absolutely right! Great Rhones and Zin! The tasting was in the barrel room and we were hosted by the owners, Steve and Pam Lock. Very much reminded me of the old days, or at least what I think I remember of them. A perfect tasting experience. My only regret was that I didn’t ask for a tour of the property. Next time for sure! Bought several bottles.
Heading down the road from Ecluse, I spied the sign for Fratelli Perata. An old time winery [for Paso] that has stayed very small and off the beaten path. [Come to think of it, I first had their wine at Templeton Corners also, and they showed me the old logo glass to prove it.] They do have a tasting room, staffed by the family. Really enjoyed the Italian varietals and bought several.
[In the same vicinity as Ecluse, we stopped by another winery that I was really looking forward to. The wines were very good. But, in comparison to the two above, it was very impersonal. I realize that not all owners want to be onsite, and that is of course their choice. But just having a pretty girl pouring wine in the tasting room isn’t the tasting experience I am looking for.]
Pretty much at our wine tasting limit for a Sunday [getting old], we visited the Pasolivo Olive Ranch, then had lunch at Panolivo in Paso, walked around downtown Paso for awhile and then headed home. Can’t wait until next time!
Blush wines have been making a comeback for some time and they’re better than ever! Gone are the days of super-sweet pink wines that we remember from the “white zin” days. Now blush wines are off-dry and are being made from some really interesting grapes. Ever seen a blush Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Malbec or Pinot Noir? They DO exist and they’re great Summer wines! They’re light and crisp, go with lots of different foods and even manage to satisfy the most discriminating wine drinkers.
Since all blush wines come from red grapes, you might be wondering how wine-makers achieve that gorgeous rose color. The answer lies in the maceration process. Much of a wine’s character comes from the grape skins, not the juice as many people believe. To lighten things up, wine-makers simply remove the grape skins earlier than they would if they were making a full-bodied, red wine. Removing the skins after a few hours [or days] creates a wine that’s light, refreshing and perfect for Summer!
At Wine 661, I serve a blush Tempranillo by the glass and it’s a huge hit! I also carry an inexpensive blush Grenache from Spain (or Garnacha as they call it in Spain) and I can hardly keep it on the shelves. At a mere $19.99 per bottle, it’s a steal! I have a blush Pinot Noir from the Coppola family of wines and it’s absolutely gorgeous! Pale pink, fruity but not sweet, lots of character and it comes in a stunning bottle!
If you haven’t tried any blush or rose wines in the past few years, give them another shot! They have a long way to go to repair the damage that “white zin” did to blush wines but if you’re adventurous enough to revisit them, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing wine experience!
24268 Valencia Blvd.
Valencia, CA 91355
Follow this link for over 30 minutes of video showing the highlights of whats to come:
My childhood favorite is gone. Pop singer Michael Jackson died earlier today due to cardiac arrest.
OK, so this article had NOTHING to do with motorsports, or the fact that, believe it or not, SpeedFreaks is celebrating our 9th Anniversary today… but it has been therapeutic to say the least, for me to say goodbye to someone who meant a lot to me, my lifestyle, my foray onto the stage and more. Thank you Michael Jackson… may you rest in peace!
Email me: CrashG@SpeedFreaks.TV
BTW, some of you have Twittered and emailed me asking about my favorite Michael Jackson songs… well, here you go:
Typical Zinfandel Smelland/or Flavor Descriptors
Fruit: raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, cranberry, black cherry, (jammy can be used with all)
Carbonic Maceration: tutti-frutti, candy, bubblegum
Herbal: briar, licorice, nettle
Oak (light): vanilla, coconut, sweet wood
Spice: cinnamon, black pepper
Oak (heavy): oak, smoke, toast, tar
Bottle Age: musk, mushroom, earth, leather cedar, cigar box
Here is Appellation Americas comical overview of the zinfandel grapes to help us remember what a Zin is all about:
2007 Layer Cake Primitivo – Puglia Italy
Aroma: Licorice, Musty, Nothing really stood out on the nose
Taste: Licorice , Creamy, Spices
In fairness to this wine, I tried this wine the day after the tasting and was detecting dark fruits in nose and taste, definite candidate for decanting. I have not been a firm follower of decanting as I like to smell and taste the changes of a wine over time. Unfortunately, at a tasting some wines do not get a chance to breath and open up.
wine maker’s notes:
Could not find any ratings
September 16, 2008 – Napa Valley, Calif. – Jayson Woodbridge, renowned global winemaker and owner/winemaker of Hundred Acre and Layer Cake wine brands, today announced that celebrated winemaker, consultant and good friend, Philippe Melka, will join his Layer Cake winemaking team. Layer Cake Wines demonstrate Jayson Woodbridge’s vision of crafting wines based on his own personal experiences and journeys with people and vineyards around the globe. The high quality, handcrafted wines consist of a one hundred percent Old Vine Primitivo (Zinfandel) from Puglia, Italy, Shiraz from the Barossa Valley and South Australia, a Côtes Du Rhône from the Rhône Valley in France, and a Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, all retailing for just $15.99 – an incredible value.
Tasting Notes :
The wine is opaque and purple-colored with a nose of jammy black cherry and blackberry fruit, truffles, tar, and spice. Warm and rich in the mouth; the ripe fruit is well supported by the depth of the structure.
2006 Brochelle – Paso Robles
Aroma: Coffee, Chocolate
wine maker’s notes:
Unable to find ratings
Tasting Notes :
Layers upon layers (upon layers!) of elegantly perfumed and richly structured fruit that dances excitedly on the palate. An essence of warm, fresh baked gingerbread cookies can be found within. You will uncover notes of deep caramel, black currants and blackberry jam. There is a densely textured mouthfeel and grand finale comprising a kiss of pumpkin pie spice.
~Drink now and until 2020.
2004 Mariah – Mendocino Valley
Aroma: Blackberries, Vanilla, Lacquer (when first opened)
Taste: Vanilla , Red apple, Blackberries, Dry on the palate, Pepper, Light body like William Selyem
wine maker’s notes:
· Connoisseurs’ Guide Rating: 87pts
15% Petite Sirah; 5% Syrah; 1% Carignane. This wine’s intense first nose of ripe blackberries and sweet spices belies its tightly structured character in the mouth. Both acid and tannin take on major roles, and more than balance the ripe fruit flavors that rise up underneath.
2004 Rancho Zabaco Toreador – Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma
Aroma: Dark Plum, Blueberry, Jammy
Taste: · Dark plums · Blueberries · Very Acidic when first opened but left as it opened up
Remember the topic on good and bad acids in wines that I wrote a couple of weeks ago? This is an example of acetic acid which is a volatile acid. This is what is known as a bad acid. Don’t confuse it with Tannic or Malolactic acids which are what are called good acids and are needed to provide character and longevity to a wine. Being volatile, acetic acid will not remain in the wine once the bottle is opened and exposed to air. Decanting will assist in fast removal of this type of acid.
wine maker’s notes:
Robert Parker : 94 points.
The 2004 Zinfandel Monte Rosso Toreador is absolutely amazing and one of the great Zinfandels of that vintage. This wine boasts a dense ruby/purple color and a big, sweet nose of ground pepper, dried herbs, lavender, black cherry jam, raspberry, and licorice. Full-bodied, powerful, and concentrated, this stunning Zinfandel should drink well for up to a decade.
2005 Storybook Mountain Vineyards Estate – Napa Valley
Aroma: Berries,Vanilla, Wine with great finesse
Taste: · Fruit Forward · Noticeable tannins
wine maker’s notes:
· Wine&Spirits: 95 points.
· Connoisseurs’ Guide: 95 points
“Irresistible …aromas pile up in a heady rush of roses, wildflowers, crushed rock and black pepper. The dark, glass-coating pomegranate color shows off its power…”
95 PTS.- 100 best wines of the year.
Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wines:
In more vintages than not, this bottling has turned out to be our favorite from Storybook Mountain. And here again, it is a ripe, generous, yet impeccably balanced wine whose keen blackberry fruit in nose and mouth comes with a mix of intensity and youthful restraint that promises more and better as the wine ages. Fullness plays off against firming acids, and tannin crops up in the late going, and so much about this lovely wine calls for a bit of patience that we would caution against early drinking lest you miss the best it will have to offer.
2007 William Selyem Baciagalupi Vineyard – Russian River Valley Sonoma
Aroma: Blackberries, Red Raspberries, Cherry
Taste: Bing Cherries, dryness to the palate, Minerality to the finish, Characteristics of a Pinot (not a typical zin profile), Very elegant and classy wine
wine maker’s notes:
· Robert Parker: 93 points
Wine Advocate As for the 2007 Zinfandel Bacigalupi , this wine is dense, chewy, medium to full-bodied, with relatively elevated alcohol, loads of spice, red and black fruits, as well as herbs and underbrush.
Hopefully, we will have some converts within the group to try more Zinfandel wines. My perfect evening in the winter is to sit down in front of a fireplace and relish the spices mixed into layers of fruits of a fine Zinfandel. Remember, this is what we enjoy around the Christmas holiday. This Christmas, treat yourself to a piece of ginger bread with a fine Zin. If you want to go a step further, try a late harvest Zin with the concentrated fruits and sugars. I doubt that you will be disappointed.
I hope that the evening of Zins that we shared with their wide range of tastes and characteristics will lead you in a search for what your palate considers a perfect wine.
Until next time…Cheers,
This last weekend my husband Eddie and I were invited to taste some of their recent vintages. We hadn’t been up to their Castaic home and winery since last year. And that year proved fruitful for us all as the Clark’s met the Carpenters (over a shared story by yours truly). Chris and Jeannie Carpenter are also home wine makers, knew a slew of others in our valley, and organized the first Assistance League sponsored Sunset in the Vineyard event that highlighted private home winemakers.
This year, as last, Kerry had several Winemaker Magazine awarded vintages to try. And I jotted down a few notes during the tasting
On the wine
We started out tasting with his 2008 Grenache Blanc, a Rhone white. We were immediately brought back a year; these wines were what we had come to expect, incredibly good. Next was a Rhone white blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Marsanne (all Tablas Creek clones by the way). “It’s a blend of all whites,” Kerry began. “It’s a very drinkable Rhone white with characteristics of honeysuckle, spice and refreshing acidity.”
The Gruner came next with 12% alcohol. “I purchased the grapes and this is my favorite wine as it’s fuller and sweeter”.
A 2008 Muscat Susie lingered over. Again with Two Hearts Estate grapes, 11% alcohol. As 10 vines only produced about a gallon, the flavors of honey and fruit made it more than worthwhile.
Eddie liked the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon made from Washington grapes that had softened nicely after bottling.
Tasting the 2007 Malbec from Argentinean juice (that now sits on my desk for inspiration) Kerry’s back label notes read: “…dark dense structure with a full rounded mouthfeel. Prominent lush flavors of cherry, black currant and blackberry…cloves, vanilla, caramel, chocolate, spice, fruit.”
Susie makes time for gardening and the back yard, where a year ago landscaping was being done, now boasts several colorful flower pots, a beautiful clay pot fountain and spice garden. Kerry, on the other hand, only has time for farming the vines.
Kerry is now growing over a dozen varieties, made more quantity in 2008, with 2007 being the first time he was turning his own grapes into wine.
“Once the vineyard is ‘dialed in’ everything is okay and it’s just irrigation. But you’ve got to be in your vineyard a lot. We only take a few days off and then we need to work until it’s balanced again.”
We recalled that Kerry does buy some of his juice and he had something new on that front as well. “We can purchase flash-frozen grape juice. It has to remain at minus 10 degrees until you are ready to use it. I bought some Napa Sauvignon Blanc juice that way.” Eddie thought that, theoretically, you could be making the same wine as Mondavi if you can get the same grapes frozen and delivered. But it doesn’t end with the grapes.
“We also experiment with yeast, how much or how little we add. The same goes for sulfites. Sulfites reduce oxygen damage and kills bugs. We follow a formula and you know if a white wine is too gold that there was probably oxygen damage. If we siphon out a little wine to taste, we may need to fill up the the fermenting bottle with marbles to displace space, raising the wine levels and keeping oxygen out. It’s all chemistry. And it’s Susie’s nose that’s more reliable than mine.”
Susie’s guest post coming up soon tells of the Clark ’s recent attendance at a winemaker conference. “There are people there that ‘fix’ wines and wine labs that you can send a sample of your wine to (or they come to you). Then they tell you what you need to do to repair a wine instead of throwing it out or losing your reputation.”
Though the Clark’s are not concerned with their winemaking reputation they are invested in learning more and creating better vintages with each year. The last thing they’ve done besides, planting, farming and studying chemistry is to allow their dog Boomer his opportunity to assist. Because, as we finally rose to leave, it was Boomer that tore out the front door, ran up the hill and zoomed through row after row in the ever enchanting part of winemaking for a dog: chasing rattlesnakes, rabbits, quail and crow. Things sulfites wouldn’t stand a chance against.