Paso Robles is my favorite area in California to go wine tasting so I was excited to attend this year’s Paso Robles Grand Tasting Event, held this week at the spectacular Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles. Paso Robles is home to more than 200 wineries and over 26,000 acres are planted to vine, with special focus on Rhone varietals and Zinfandel. About 40 of those wineries participated in this event, and I was anxious to try their new releases.
Upon entering the historic Vibiana, I am always struck by the beauty of this Baroque style church built in 1876. The ceilings soar and light streams in through the upper windows. And on this day the tables were lined up with some of Paso’s finest.
My first encounter was with old friends, David and Amparo of Minassian-Young Vineyards. I met them a number of years ago in Paso when they were pouring at a special event held on the gorgeous grounds of Carmody McKnight. I have always enjoyed their white Rhone blend, (64%Grenache Blanc, 19% Viognier, 17% Marsanne) and the 09 didn’t disappoint. Redolent of apples it has plenty of crisp acidity. A unique offering from MY is their 08 Black Saint Peter, a blend of 45% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, 16% tannat, 11% Cinsault, 6% Carignan and 3% Mourvedre. Big fruit and full body on this one. Their 07 GSMV, (GSM with 3% Viognier thrown in to brighten the blend), offers a long spicy finish. Nice.
Aram Deirmenjian of Kiamie Wine Cellars was there and it was great to re-connect with him. He had first poured me his White Kuvee in 08 and I’ve been hooked ever since. On this day he was premiering his 09 vintage of this Rhone blend. Steve Glossner, the winemaker, describes this blend as full-bodied on the palate with ripe casaba melon and lemon meringue richness. Scents of honeysuckle, lemongrass and persistent minerality. I describe it as “yummy”!
Silver Horse Winery, represented by owner Steve Kroener, has been producing some fabulous wines at their gorgeous winery in Pleasant Valley since 2005. Standouts on this day were the 08 Estate Petit Verdot (100%), 08 Estate Tomori, (60% Syrah/40% Cabernet Sauvignon), and the 08 “The Main Thing”, (45% Malbec/25% Cabernet Sauvignon/15% Merlot/15% Petite Sirah).
A new one for me was Thacher Winery and I really enjoyed meeting owner/winemaker Sherman Thacher and hearing his story. He started as a brew master in Santa Cruz, but along with his bride, fell in love with Paso Robles and eventually relocated there to make wine and enjoy a lifestyle they thought was perfect for raising a family. Couldn’t agree more! Their first vintage at this location was in 2008 and his 08 Triumvirate Reserve Zinfandel was named “Red” Sweepstakes Winner at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. He had the 07 Triumvirate to taste that day which was silky with good acidity, and a bit of cinnamon. Also really liked the 09 Viognier and the 07 Syrah. The syrah fruit is from the Halter Ranch and Alta Colina Vineyards and offered a wine that was spicy, balanced and elegant.
And it just wouldn’t be a Paso tasting without visiting with Jeff and Karin from Roxo Port Cellars. Roxo offers ultra-premium Port style wines made in the metodo Portugues style. These are not the super sweet syrupy wines you may have always associated with Port. These are carefully crafted from hand-picked high quality grapes and include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Negrette, Barbara, Zinfandel, as well as the traditional Portuguese varietals Touriga Nacional, Souzao, Tinta Roriz and Bastardo. Many of their blends pair beautifully with foods other than chocolate, although the Negrette with chocolate is fabulous! Next time you visit Paso, think outside the Port box and stop into Meritage Tasting Lounge downtown where you can try these delicious and unusual wines.
Two hours just isn’t enough time to taste all Paso has to offer, and this event left me yearning for a good long visit to El Paso de Robles. Good people, beautiful vistas and wonderful wine. And there are now so many great places to eat and beautiful hotels and B & B’s to complete the perfect wine country getaway.
I’LL DRINK TO THAT!
Last night we enjoyed a 2004 Cabernet from D’Anbino Vineyards and Cellars. It paired beautifully with beef tenderloin with an herb/mustard crust and leek and wild mushroom bread pudding. This wine had soft tannins, was full bodied and well balanced, and all around a delicious Friday night selection. Cheers!