Last week I gave you an introduction to the latest Garagiste Festival held in Santa Monica. Here now are some comments about the wines Karen and I enjoyed.
Ascension Cellars – winemaker Erick Allen continues to make consistently high quality wines from Paso Robles grapes. Primarily Rhone varietals, my favorites were the 2017 Siren Rose, the 2016 Enchantress Rhone White blend and the 2014 Trinity GSM blend.
Byron Blatty Wines – committed to making wines sourced from Los Angeles County vineyards, owners Mark & Jenny Blatty along with winemakers Steve Lemley & Nate Hasper (more on them below) are making some remarkable wines. The two wines listed in the program were poured recently at the Wine On The Roof event in Santa Clarita, so I didn’t taste those this time. But the other two that Mark Blatty poured were excellent as well –the 2016 Agenda (primarily Syrah with a little Tannat) and the 2016 Pragmatic (Malbec with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).
Caliza Winery – Carl Bowker has been making his small production Rhones in Paso Robles for about ten years now and he has certainly got it down. I tasted his wines recently at Hospice du Rhone but I did try his two 2017 bottlings this time, the Pink GSM and the Kissin’ Cousins White Rhone Blend. Both were delicious, as was my revisit of the 2013 Estate Grenache.
Domane Kreger – this winery is based in Lancaster, CA and sources grapes from Santa Barbara County and Paso Robles. I really liked their 2014 Syrah and 2013 Tempranillo.
Dusty Nabor Wines – Dusty not only gets my vote for coolest winemaker name but is making excellent wines in Westlake Village from Central Coast grapes. He was pouring several wines but my favorite was his 2016 Grenache from Paso Robles.
Hoi Polloi Wines – Doug Minnick is not only one of the founders of the Garagiste Festivals but is one of the owners/winemakers of this winery with a tasting room in downtown Newhall. They have the distinction of making Karen’s all-time favorite Rose and the rest of the wines are pretty great too. The 2016 “Blue Velvet” Syrah from the iconic Larner Vineyard was a standout for me.
Leverage Wines – Paso Robles gets a lot of love at Garagiste and here is another one, focusing on Rhones [which always works for me]. Excellent 2017 Grenache Rose and 2015 Trajectory GSM.
Marin’s Vineyard – This Monterey County winery specializes in Syrah and Viognier. They do a pretty nice Malbec too. We’re talking Southern Monterey County, so think Paso as opposed to cool weather styles.
Mastro Scheidt – sourcing grapes from Sonoma and Mendocino counties, owner/winemaker David Scheidt makes delicious Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc as well as a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. And his Cabernet Sauvignons are pretty tasty too.
Monochrome Wines – I’m just going to say it: It takes balls to make only white wine in red wine country. Since I was focusing primarily on reds I almost skipped it. Fortunately, Karen insisted I try the wines. As usual…um, always…she was right. Especially loved the 2016 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Marsanne as well as the 2016 blend of Marsanne and Chardonnay. They are pouring in Paso’s Tin City now and I highly recommend you check them out. We intend to.
Pulchella Winery – the men, the myths, the legends. Winemakers Steve Lemley and Nate Hasper put the Santa Clarita Valley wine scene on the map. Not ones to rest on their laurels, they just keep getting better, especially for me the 2015 Tannat.
Record Family Wines – with wines now being made by Jeff Strekas [of Onx] this Paso Robles winery is poised to break out big. The 2017 Grenache Rose was my favorite, but the others showed the capabilities of the family’s vineyard as well.
Stolo Family Vineyards – based in Cambria, this coastal winery produces wines more similar to Sonoma Coast’s style as opposed to nearby Paso Robles. The 2016 Estate Syrah and the 2015 Estate Hillside Reserve Syrah were both great examples of cool climate wines.
Sweetzer Cellars – An excellent example of consumers turned winemakers and named after the street they lived on in West Hollywood, I really enjoyed the 2017 Rose of Grenache as well as the 2016 Grenache from the Central Coast.
TLO Wines – good news for Bakersfield residents and those not far from there: TLO is opening a tasting room just for you. I especially liked the 2016 blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Mourvedre as well as the 2014 Reserve Syrah.
TW Fermentation Co. – I’m admittedly more of a Rhone and Zin guy, but this Paso Robles winery is selling me on Paso Cab with the 2012-2014 vertical of Straight Cab as well as their 2014 Bordeaux blend.
Wildwood Oak Winery – it was nice to see some Lodi representation. Anita and Tony Matlock source their grapes from there; the winery is in Redlands. I enjoyed the 2016 “Dancing Queen” Syrah from the Abba Vineyard [get it?].
As I mentioned above, there were almost 50 wineries pouring so I if I didn’t mention a winery I probably didn’t get to it this time.
To bring this article full circle [see Part One], I haven’t read anywhere as to whether Jonathan Gold had an opinion about The Garagiste Festival. I like to think he would have approved. Not sure what he’d think of this article though. He was once quoted [tongue in cheek?] as saying: “Wine writing is what food writers do when their knees start to go.”
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 Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.