Tag Archives: Cabs of Distinction

CABS of Distinction – 2014

by Xochitl Maiman   April 4, 2014

CABS of Distinction Expands to 5-day Event

CABS of Distinction Paso Robles 2014

After the success of the inaugural CABs of Distinction event, (launched last year to celebrate and promote Cabernet Sauvignon and red Bordeaux varietals produced in Paso Robles, California), and the increased exposure and credibility from Paso Robles being named “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, the Paso Robles Cab Collective has geared up for even more exciting events in 2014. The CABs of Distinction events will take place in locations across the Paso Robles AVA with enhanced sommelier, media, trade and consumer experiences. For more information on the sommelier, media and trade events visit http://www.pasoroblescab.com.

One of the highlights for me from last year’s event was the En Primeur barrel tasting of the 2012 vintage and I look forward to tasting the 2013 this year, as well as the Library/Rare and Reserve offerings. There will also be a vintner panel discussion moderated by Matt Kettmann, contributing editor of Wine Enthusiast and senior editor of Santa Barbara Independent, winery hosted lunches and dinners, vineyard tours and more all geared to shed light on the true potential of Cabernet and red Bordeaux varietals from Paso Robles.

Paso Robles CAB Collective en primeur tasting of 2013

En Primeur tasting at 2013 event

Consumer-focused events will take place April 25-26. These two days will showcase spectacular quality wines from producers of world-class Cabernet Sauvignon and red Bordeaux varietals. The weekend begins on Friday with wineries hosting various events throughout the day and winemaker dinners at wineries and in Paso Robles’ most sought-after restaurants at night. Last year I had the pleasure of attending the winemaker dinner at McPhee’s Grill in Templeton which featured the wines of Chateau Margene, B&E Vineyards, Robert Hall, Eberle and Justin. Read all the delicious details of that dinner and check out this year’s winemaker dinner options. Seating is always limited so reserve early!

McPhee's Grill dinner course - CABS of Distinction 2013

McPhee’s Grill dinner course from 2013 winemaker dinner

The CABs of Distinction Gala on Saturday will be held at River Oaks Hot Springs in Paso Robles and will include tastings of 32 wineries (28 member wineries and four invited garagiste producers), each thoughtfully paired with artisanal cheese or charcuterie. Decadent catered lunches will be provided by notable Paso Robles restaurants and caterers (Robert’s Restaurant, Crush Catering and Avant-Garde Experience), along with chocolate tastings, live music, a barrel-making demonstration, and more.

Gary Eberle discussing Cabernet Sauvignon with guests at the 2013 CABS of Distinction Grand Tasting

Gary Eberle discussing Cabernet Sauvignon with guests at the 2013 CABS of Distinction Grand Tasting

Luxury VIP ticket holders will start the day with an intimate private vintner-hosted reception and lunch at Thomas Hill Organics in downtown Paso Robles at 11 a.m. The indulgent multi-course menu will be paired with select Cabernet and red Bordeaux wines. After lunch, complimentary shuttle service will be provided to the event site where VIP’s will be the first to arrive and taste through reserve wines at 1 p.m. VIP guests will have private access to a VIP Lounge throughout the day, and continued access to the Gala from 2-5 p.m.

Premium-Reserve VIP tickets are also available for early entry to the Reserve Tasting at 1 p.m., access to the VIP Lounge throughout the day, as well as full access to the Gala.

Read more about last year’s event.

Tickets for the CABs of Distinction Gala event can be purchased at www.pasoroblescab.com. The website includes member winery details and contact information, trade tools and the PRCC blog with extended member features, harvest reports and other news.

Members of the Paso Robles CAB Collective include ADELAIDA Cellars, Ancient Peaks Winery, B&E Vineyard, Bon Niche Cellars, Calcareous Vineyard, Cass Vineyard & Winery, Chateau Margene, Clautiere Vineyard, DAOU Vineyards & Winery, Eberle Winery, Halter Ranch Vineyard, Hammersky Vineyards, Hunt Cellars, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Jada Vineyard & Winery, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery, Le Cuvier Winery, Le Vigne Winery, Opolo Vineyards, Parrish Family Vineyards, Peachy Canyon Winery, Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery, Record Family Wines, Red Soles Winery, Robert Hall Winery, Sextant Wines, Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery, and Vina Robles.


Paso Robles CAB Collective logo

Formed in 2012, the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective (PRCC) is an independent collaborative effort of leading Paso Robles growers and producers of Cabernet and Bordeaux varietals specific to the Paso Robles AVA in California. The PRCC strives to promote the full potential of the Paso Robles region in producing superior quality, classic and age-worthy Cabernet and red Bordeaux varietals that compete with like varietals on a global stage to consumers and media worldwide. For more information, please visit www.pasoroblescab.com.




Cabernet Sauvignon Weekend in Paso Robles – Part 2

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

Day 2 of my cabernet weekend began with a gorgeous drive through the back roads of Paso Robles wine country out to Windfall Farms, the venue for the CABS of Distinction Winemaker Seminar and Grand Tasting, hosted by the Paso Robles CAB Collective. Nothing but rolling hills covered with vineyards and sprawling oak trees. Ahhhh….. so relaxing….

Stallion Barn at Windfall Farms

The day’s events began with a winemaker panel moderated by Wine Enthusiast’s Steve Heimoff under a tent adjacent to the main building.  The all-star panel included Paso Robles pioneer, Gary Eberle of Eberle Winery, Daniel Daou, owner of Daou Vineyards & Winery, Steve Peck, winemaker at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, David Galzignato, winemaker at Jada Vineyard & Winery, Scott Shirley, winemaker at Justin and Kevin Willenborg, winemaker at Vina Robles.

Steve Heimoff



This was a trade and media seminar, so everyone, including the Goddess of Wine, was busy posting, checking-in, taking pics and making notes.

Busy media people

Mr. Heimoff, who in an earlier article stated, “It takes powerful, consistent evidence to smash old stereotypes, but I have now experienced it, and am ready to declare for Paso Robles Cabernet”, asked the panel to share their thoughts on the history of Paso Robles winemaking, why they thought Cabernet from this area was different/similar from/to other wine regions and where they thought Bordeaux varietals would go in this region, moving forward. Gary Eberle gave a wonderful history as he has been involved with the area since his first visit in 1972. He thought the area was perfect for Cabernet and in 1973 started his plantings. His favorite vintage so far is 1991, but for this seminar we tasted his 2009 Estate Cabernet, 100% Clone 6. I’ve loved his wines in the past and this one was no exception.

Steve went on to say that “Paso has fulfilled early expectations”, and that was exemplified by the fact that 4 of the winemakers on the panel were transplants from Napa who were excited to move to Paso to make Cabernet. David Galzignato, of Jada, sent the point home when he said, “Paso Robles has the potential to be the best region in California”.

Needless to say, this seminar was amazing – each speaker was informative while offering up amusing wine anecdotes, and their wines were all delicious hints of what’s to come from this Central Coast wine region.

After the seminar we went into the tasting where many more examples of Cabs and Cab/Merlot blends were presented. All received high scores from me, but my personal favorites included:

HammerSky Vineyards – 2007 Party of Four (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc)

Jada – 2010 Jack of Hearts (64% Petit Verdot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon)

Daou Vineyards & Winery – 2010 Estate Soul of a Lion (74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 % Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot)

Eberle Winery – 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

An event in Paso Robles also always means making new friends and catching up with old ones!

Daniel Daou of Daou Vineyards & Winery

Daniel Daou of Daou Vineyards & Winery

Patty Bello of B & E Vineyard

Patty Bello of B & E Vineyard

Gary Eberle sure has the attention of "Hoot 'n Annie" and other attendees

Gary Eberle sure has the attention of "Hoot 'n Annie" and other attendees

Annie and Matt Browne, Gina DeGirolamo, Dina Mande and Brigit Binns

Annie and Matt Browne, Gina DeGirolamo, Dina Mande and Brigit Binns

I was so happy to be introduced to Brigit Binns, renown cookbook author, and learn of her latest book, The New Wine Country Cookbook“. She also teaches classes at her spectacular outdoor kitchen, Refugio, in Paso Robles. Going to have to attend one of those myself!

After the tasting, our group of trade and media was joined by the winemakers back out under the tent for a delicious lunch of duck and pork cassoulet, salads and yum brownies. The winemakers proudly roamed the area offering tastes of their wines for us to enjoy with lunch. As the temperature started to climb into the 90’s, (you know I love it), I retreated to the air conditioned comfort of my car for the drive to my next  engagement….a wedding in Camarillo!

Yes, the trip was a whirlwind, but worth every minute. Nothing beats time spent in Paso Robles, where time slows down, the quiet back roads beckon, the wine flows, the food is fresh and local, and everyone is smiling.  For wine geeks, Paso fans, Cab fans and wine fans – I encourage you all to make a note to look for the 2nd Annual Cabs of Distinction next Spring and treat yourself to the CABS of Paso Robles! Cheers!


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!