Tag Archives: Bordeaux

Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon – Staking a Claim

by Xochitl Maiman   May 4, 2014

Paso Robles cabernet sauvignon producers are spreading the news

Paso Robles CAB Collective cabernet sauvignon

Paso Robles, well known for its Zinfandel and Rhone varietals, is  positioning the region as a major player in the production of high quality, age worthy California Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals. In fact they feel so strongly that they are contenders for the throne that 28 producers have come together to get the word out. To this end, they have formed the Paso Robles CAB Collective, which hosted its second annual CABS of Distinction events for trade, media and consumers April 23-26.

One of the founding members of the Collective, Daniel Daou of DAOU Vineyards, said, as most believe, that “a great wine starts in the vineyard”. And here’s where the Collective begins their stand.  With calcareous clay soils similar to those of France’s Bordeaux region, Daou touts Paso Robles to be “more like Bordeaux than Napa”.  Cabernet likes this kind of soil which provides for good natural acidity and minerality in the fruit. The problem has been that until now, Paso producers have been “shy” about pushing the envelope on their cabernet programs. With the strength of numbers, the support of the Collective and the effort to educate consumers and change the general market perception, it is their hope more Paso Robles cabernet and Bordeaux varietal producers will push to increase the quality of their vineyards, (currently 55% of vineyards in Paso Robles are planted to cabernet sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals), and realize the true potential of the region.

During the two days that I attended the various events for the media, I was given plenty of opportunity to listen to and speak with many of the winemakers in the Collective. Their ages vary, and their stories of how they came to be winemakers are all different, but what these men and women share is a passion for what they do and they’re eager to share that passion with the wine drinking community. They are excitedly looking to the next 10 years as a pivotal time when consumer awareness grows, allowing Paso Robles to take its place among the great cabernet producing regions of the world.

So it at this point that I make my recommendation – get to Paso Robles and start tasting for yourself. Visit the wineries, talk to the winemakers and buy some wine. Buy multiple bottles of your favorites so that you can drink a bottle now and lay down a couple for tasting again in a year or two or three.  Take note of the characteristics of these wines – which you like, which you don’t. What changes occur in the wine/how does it evolve over the years? Did this wine have longevity in the bottle? Which vintages did you like better and why? Host a blind tasting for your friends and include cabernet from different regions. Which styles do you prefer? How does your palette change over a period of time? How do the wines change when paired with food? If you find some Paso favorites, encourage your local wine store to consider carrying them. Luckily, the best way to learn about wine is to drink it….with friends, family and of course good food.

But where to start, you ask? By all means visit the CAB Collective’s website for a list of their members. Don’t forget that there are many other cabernet producers in Paso Robles that are not yet members of the collective, so explore them as well. But in the meantime here is a very short list of some of my favorites from the CABS of Distinction tastings.


Parrish Family Vineyards – 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Bon Niche Cellars – 2010 L’Entrée- Malbec and 2010 Fenetres Petit Verdot

Halter Ranch Vineyard –2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

Calcareous Vineyard – 2006 Petit Verdot – Denner Vineyard

Cass Vineyard and Winery – 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon Weekend in Paso Robles – Part 1

Cabernet Sauvignon Month in Paso Robles Highlighted by CABS of Distinction events.

Well, actually, it was only 22 hours, but I always manage to pack a lot in to a short amount of time. What a girl won’t do for a glass of wine, or two, or three…..

Like many, when I thought of Paso Robles wines, I tended to think more about Rhone grape varietals and Zinfandel. But in actuality, more than 50% of Paso Robles plantings are Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals. The confidence of Paso Robles winemakers producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab blends has taken a firm hold and they are ready to tell the world about their wines. To this end, The Paso Robles CAB Collective has been newly formed. Comprised of 16 wineries, these ambassadors are excited to be spreading the word on behalf of their AVA.


I was invited to attend the CAB Collective’s inaugural events, CABS of Distinction, last weekend, and was delighted to accept. With a sigh of relief and a big smile on my face, I arrived in (my happy place) Paso Robles, just in time to attend the Friday afternoon En Primeur tasting event at the Downtown Park Ballroom. This intimate event provided the opportunity to meet the winemakers, get acquainted with them and taste barrel samples of their 2012 vintage wines, only 6-8 months old. Many of these wines will later be blended to create the finished bottled product, so it’s very interesting to taste the components separately and get the winemaker’s take on how each is progressing.

CABS of Distinction

Patty Bello of B & E Vineyards

Patty Bello of B & E Vineyards

Cheese display from Vivant Fine Cheese

Cheese display from Vivant Fine Cheese

After my drive and a lot of “teaser” tastes, I was more than ready to relax with a great meal paired with wonderful wines. There were a number of winemaker dinners being held that night in many of the major restaurants in town, each featuring wines from four or five of the collective’s wineries. I had a reservation to attend the McPhee’s Grill dinner in nearby Templeton with friends and couldn’t wait. Chateau Margene’s Mike Mooney emceed the evening, but Patty Bello of B&E Vineyard was there along with Gary Eberle of Eberle, Don Brady of Robert Hall Winery and Jim Gerakaris, CSW, of Justin Vineyards & Winery to talk about their wines and answer questions. Then the feast began…..

First Course: Salmon with Caramelized Onions over Saffron Risotto with Raisins and Pine Nuts – Paired with B&E Vineyard 2008 Merlot

Salmon at McPhee's Grill in Templeton

Second Course: Medallions of Duck in a Blackberry Reduction over a Wild Rice Waffle – Paired with Robert Hall 2010 Meritage

Medallions of Duck in a Raspberry Reduction

Third Course: Oak Grilled Lamb Chop over Great Northern Beans with Spanish Chorizo, Mint Sauce – Paired with Chateau Margene Beau Melange

Lamb Chop and Beans

Fourth Course: Oak Grilled New York with Point Reyes Blue Cheese and a Cabernet Sauce, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Spinach – Paired with Eberle Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – 2009

Filet Mignon

Dessert: Crazy Flourless Chocolate Cake with Almond Crunch and Caramel Sauce! – Paired with Justin Obtuse (Over the top delicious!)

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Wow, what a day, what a meal! And the main event was yet to come the next day……

To be continued…

Local Wine Tasting Events Focus on Wines from Around the World

It’s the season for wine tasting festivals, events and private tastings and I’m trying to squeeze in as many as I can.

Friday, April 12 –

Alta Colina Wine

Private Tasting at Liquid Assets Cellars in North Hollywood, CA of Alta Colina Wines from Paso Robles. This Tillman family owned and operated winery has come to be known as one of the Central Coast’s most acclaimed Rhone producers and Maggie Tillman brought along an impressive line-up to share. She started the tasting off with their 2012 Grenache Blanc, as yet un-released, which was luscious and crisp, then we moved into a variety of Syrahs and Syrah blends.

-2012 Grenache Blanc.  86% Grenache Blanc, 14% Marsanne.

-2010 GSM.  45% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 25% Syrah.

-2010 Toasted Slope Syrah.  100% Syrah.

-2010 Block 2 Bio Syrah.  100% Syrah.

-2010 Old 900 Syrah.  95% Syrah, 4% Mourvedre, 1% Viognier.

Saturday, April 13 –

Wine tasting group over for tapas, Paella and Spanish Wines (of course a few non-Spanish wines made their way into the line-up). Always a good time, good food and good wine when this group gets together! Guests this evening included wine writer/educator, Denise Lowe, the “Goddess of Wine“, Shawn Burgert, The Wandering Wino, Shawn Shai Halahmy of Shai Cellars, Rico Mandel, photographer extraordinaire and many more of my favorite “wineaux”.



Spanish Wines

Thursday April 18 –

Valley Cultural Center Food, Wine and Micro-Brew Festival – Large event in Woodland Hills, CA featured many fine wines and tasty bites from local restaurants and caterers. I was pouring at this event so didn’t get to do as must tasting as I would have liked, but from where I was standing it sure looked like a great time was had by all. What was I pouring, you ask? Rabbit Ridge 2010 Grenache Blanc Paso Robles. Wonderfully crisp, floral and refreshing. Great summer wine! Check it out here.

Saturday, April 20 –

1st Annual Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival – Aqua Dulce, CA – Yes, there is wine in them hills, in fact Sierra Pelona is one of California’s newest AVA’s and is located just 45 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.  The festival was held at the beautiful Reyes Winery and featured the wines of  over a dozen wineries, a couple of  tequila’s and gourmet bites from some of the local restaurants. Highlights for me were the wines of Pulchella Winery and Harris Wine Biz, along with the Tequila Anejo from Tres Sietes.

Harris Wine Biz

Tres Sietes Anejo Tequila

Sierra Pelona Valley Wine Festival at Reyes Winery

Monday,  April 22 –

32 chateaux from the Right Bank of the Gironde estuary of Bordeaux were featured at this grand tasting from Le Cercle Rive Droite de Grands Vins de Bordeaux held at The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.

The Peninsula Hotel - Beverly Hills, California

18 appellations were represented pouring their Merlot driven wines and introducing the 2012 vintage, which seemed generally to get a “thumbs up”. The other vintage widely represented was 2010, “Wines To Dream Of”, thanks to the year’s exceptional weather. Most of the wineries pouring are family-run and under 40 acres in size. It was great to listen to the family representatives, many of them also the winemaker, speak so passionately about their wines. It’s times like these that I really wish I could speak French! Paying close attention, I received a wonderful explanation/history of Malbec and Grand Cru classifications from the gentleman from Chateau de Pressac.  While many of the wines were young and could use bottle aging and/or decanting, I found most of them to be elegant, well balanced with interesting notes of various fruits and spice, making each wine unique yet truly indicative of the region. I very much enjoyed this tasting and look forward to my next opportunity to try these wines.

Le Cercle Rive Droite Grands Vins de Bordeaux

Chateau de Pressac - Bordeaux

Chateau Gaby

Chateau Jean de Gué

Next up:

Chianti Grand Tasting LA – Thursday, April 25

Cabs of Distinction – April 26-27 – Paso Robles, Calif.


Which tasting events are your favorites? Cheers!