Just back from another one of my whirlwind 30 hour trips up to Paso Robles and back. I always have so much I want to accomplish and there is never enough time! I’ve made so many wonderful friends up there and there are always so many new wineries to visit.
Started this trip with a good long visit with Paso’s very own Matt and Annie Browne of Hoot ‘n Annie’s blog. Annie made us a wonderful Creole style dinner with which we enjoyed a Zinfandel from Poalillo and a Mourvedre from Opolo while we talked about…wine of course! For dessert Annie pulled out a real treat that I had not seen before, Red Soles Winery “Bootlegger”.
This unique dessert wine is made in the “solera” style aging process like the Sherry’s of Spain. This process involves the blending of vintages in oak barrels - each year as a portion of the oldest barrels is bottled, they are replenished with wine from the next oldest barrels. The resulting product is an aged wine with depth and character and no vintage. This Red Soles wine is made from Viognier and unlike a “late harvest” Viognier should be served at room temperature as opposed to chilled. While late harvests reflect a brighter, sweeter wine with apricots and peaches on the palate, this solera Viognier is a richer, more complex wine with nuts and caramel and a long finish. Red Soles only bottles 40-45 cases of this decadent elixir per year in these really cool bottles brought in from France.
The next morning I was off early for coffee and a goodie at my favorite bakery, Cider Creek. While I was there I made sure to pick up a couple of jars of F.R.O.G. jam - basically a marmalade from figs, raspberries, orange and ginger. I use this in all kinds of recipes, some of which are mentioned in other posts on this blog.
Later that morning I had an appointment to tour the new winery site for Epoch Estate Wines. As fate would have it, this new winery is being built on one of the most historic winery properties in the Paso Robles area. This last summer, owners Bill and Liz Armstrong purchased the York Mountain Winery property off of Highway 46W in Templeton, that was founded by Andrew York in 1882. They also own and have overseen the restoration of the historic vineyard owned by the philanthropist and musician Ignacy Paderewski, that was dedicated to Zinfandel in the early 1900’s. While restoration of the winery continues, a brand new tasting room has been built and is scheduled to open mid November. Epoch’s inaugural release this last summer was a sell out and received very high ratings. Tasting these wines will be a pleasure as the site is majestic and beautiful, tucked away under towering redwoods in the hills separating Paso Robles from the sea at Cambria.
On my way back down into Paso Robles, I stopped by Jack Creek Farms to look at the incredible myriad of gourds and pumpkins for fall cooking and decoration. Other Fall treats include cider and pumpkin fudge!
Next up on my way down Highway 45 W was a stop at Booker Vineyards. With harvest in full swing and it being the middle of the week, I knew the tasting room would not be open. But a couple of friends of mine made some calls and the lovely Addie Pitts left her position at the sorting table to come out to the tasting room and pour me the line-up of Bookers’s wines.
First wine to try was their 2009 Pink, a heavyweight unfiltered 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah. With baked cherries and strawberry rhubarb in the nose, this wine has a fuller body and more spice, maybe anise, than most blush wines. Always looking for a wine for Mexican food since I ‘m not much of a beer drinker, so I bought a bottle of this one.
After tasting through three wonderful red blends, the last two wines were 100%ers. The 08 Fracture is 100% Syrah aged 24 months in barrel. Lots of aromas and flavors going on in this one including a nose of tobacco, coffee and black fruits, and a palette with hints of chocolate, smoke, cherries and cassis. The 08 Ripper, a 100% Grenache, also sees 24 months of oak giving it a full body with nice length. Lots of red fruit like strawberries and dark cherries.
Booker is a beautiful winery with a great vibe and wonderful wines. Don’t miss this one on your next visit.
My short Paso visit ended with a good long lunch to catch up with my dear friend, Melinda Laraneta of Laraneta Vineyards in Templeton. We discussed wine and olives and chestnuts and plans for their new winery. I wish her the best of luck with all the many steps involved even before ground is broken.
It takes plenty of perseverance to open a winery, plant and care for a vineyard and produce and market wine. But how we enjoy the fruits of their labors, and how I do respect and admire the people that choose to do this. Cheers to all of you. And a big thank you to everyone in Paso that made this trip so pleasurable.
I’ll Drink to That!
Last November we had the pleasure of a visit with Denis Degher of Mojo Cellars. After a tour of his estate, (see previous post). we were treated to a tasting of his wines. One was his 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, 100%, made from fruit from Latchford Ranch off of Hwy 46 W. As much as we liked it then, he suggested laying it down for a year, which we did. So with much will power, I resisted the urge to open it until a few days ago. I should mention that during this past year, the wine has won a Gold Medal at the California Mid State Fair and was also named a San Francisco Chronicle Award Winner. And, yes, it was worth the wait to drink! This wine had mellowed and the tannins had softened to a rich, viscous, beautifully balanced blend of yumminess! Chocolate, tobacco, eucalyptus, cedar - all in there. Enjoyed this with a grilled New York steak with a Dijon glaze and a mash of potatoes and parsnips on the side.
Date: November 1, 2010