The Calcareous winery is way up on Peachy Canyon Road, one of those areas in Paso Robles that is far enough off the beaten path that you don’t just pass by on a day of casual tasting. You have to make the effort, and it is well worth it.
I’ve tasted the Calcareous wines at any number of events, usually being poured by affable Sales Manager John Teeling. But my wife Karen and I had never visited the winery and tasting room. We rectified this omission recently and I highly recommend you do the same.
High above the Salinas Valley, the visit is worth it for the views alone. [You can take a virtual tour here: http://www.calcareous.com/Our-Story/Photo-Tours.] But, there is so much more than that, as the wines are as spectacular as the setting. Now that Paso Robles has been divided into 11 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), I am trying to learn to appreciate the differences in all of them. I must say that the wines made from grapes grown in the newly designated Adelaida District, which includes Calcareous, are well worth seeking out.
Lloyd Messer and his daughter Dana Brown planted Calcareous Vineyard in 2000, naming it, with no ego whatsoever, after the solid calcareous [limestone] rock on which it was planted. Sadly, Lloyd passed away in 2006, but Dana, with the help of her sister Erika and the rest of the team at Calcareous, have carried on the vision of creating great site-driven wines, crafted by winemaker Jason Joyce and his assistant Tyler Russell. They also use fruit from the Carver Vineyard in the far west York Mountain AVA as well as Zinfandel from Kate’s Vineyard which is just half a mile from the Calcareous tasting room.
We tasted several wines while we chatted with John in the tasting room. Starting with the 2013 Lily Blanc [a delicious white Rhone blend], we found our palates to be now sufficiently refreshed to dive into the rest of the wines to be tasted. In addition to the Lily Blanc, we tried:
2012 Pinot Noir York Mountain
2011 Tres Violet [red Rhone blend]
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon [York Mountain]
2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
2011 Syrah Devil’s Canyon
2012 Zinfandel Kate’s Vineyard
All really solid wines. Standouts for me were the Lily Blanc, Tres Violet red blend, the Syrah and the Zinfandel. Not available for tasting was the Moose, which is always my favorite from Calcareous, because it was sold out – I guess it is the favorite of a lot of people! A unique blend of mainly Syrah with a small portion of Petit Verdot, this wine consistently pumps out great flavors. Although not yet released, I was able to purchase a couple of bottles of the 2011 Moose, which I am greatly looking forward to trying. Lovingly named after founder Lloyd, the Wine Advocate recently described this wine as “Hands down the greatest wine I’ve tasted from this estate” and awarded it 94 points.
Also not on the tasting list was the club-only first release of a Malbec, this also from the 2011 vintage. John also graciously allowed us to purchase this, which we had with our dinner later that evening. For you Malbec fans out there – join the Calcareous wine club if you want this wine, it was excellent!
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.