Author Archives: Thaddeus

PASO ROBLES WINE COUNTRY

Paso Robles is located at, approximately halfway between the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Paso Robles is where the region of Southern California ends. The elevation of Paso Robles ranges from 675 to 1,100 feet (340 m), but the majority of the main downtown area of the city sits at about 740 feet (230 m) above sea level.

The topography of the area consists of gentle rolling hills on the eastern half of the city, and foothill peaks which rise in elevation to the Santa Lucia Coastal Range on the west, which are all blanketed in the Californian chaparral environment, which is mainly dry grassland and oak woodland. Simply “Paso,” as it is referred to by locals, sits on the eastern foothills of the Santa Lucia Coastal Mountain Range, which lies directly to the West of the city, and runs in a North-South direction, starting at Monterey, then runs down South to its terminus, in the San Luis Obispo area. The city is located at the southern end of the fertile Salinas River Valley.  Paso Robles sits at the border where northern San Luis Obispo County and southern Monterey County meet, and is situated roughly 24 miles (39 km), or 20 minutes, inland from the Pacific Ocean.

For a time, Paso Robles was known as the “Almond City” because the local almond growers created the largest concentration of almond orchards in the world.

Paso Robles’ wine industry has a long history within the area. Wine grapes were introduced to the Paso Robles soil in 1797 by the Spanish conquistadors and Franciscan missionaries. Spanish explorer Francisco Cortez envisioned an abundant wine-producing operation and encouraged settlers from Mexico and other parts of California to cultivate the land. The first vineyardists in the area were the Padres of the Mission San Miguel, and their old fermentation vats and grapevine artwork can still be seen at the Mission, north of the city of Paso Robles.

Commercial winemaking was introduced to the Paso Robles region in 1882 when Andrew York, a settler from Indiana, began planting vineyards and established the Ascension Winery at what is now York Mountain Winery.

Following Andrew York’s early success in the wine business, Gerd and Ilsabe Klintworth planted a vineyard in the Geneseo/Linne area in approximately 1886. They were licensed to sell jugs of Zinfandel, Port, and Muscatel, as well as some of the area’s first white wine made from Burger grapes. The Casteel Vineyards in the Willow Creek area were planted just prior to 1908. Casteel wines were stored and aged in a cave cellar. Cuttings from the old vines provided the start for other vineyards, still producing in the area today.

As the popularity of wines began to grow, so did the Paso Robles wine region.  The Templeton Winery was the area’s first to be bonded following the repeal of Prohibition.

The Paso Robles wine region gained more notoriety when Ignace Paderewski, the famous Polish statesman and concert pianist, visited Paso Robles, became enchanted with the area, and purchased 2,000 acres In the early 1920s, he planted Petite Sirah and Zinfandel on his Rancho San Ignacio vineyard in the Adelaide area. Following Prohibition, Paderewski’s wine was made at York Mountain Winery. The wines produced from grapes grown on Rancho San Ignacio went on to become award-winners.  Paso Robles’ reputation as a premier wine region became firmly established as a result of this and later successes.

WINES FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER

Choosing Wine for Your Holiday Table

Perfectly Paired

 

By Thaddeus Buggs and Susan Spinello

“Wine has a life of its own as it continues to live and breathe from the vine to your lips.”

Halloween may have passed, but the truly scariest time of year is still upon us…family holidays!   The table is set.  The turkey and stuffing are in the oven, and all that’s left is deciding on your beverage of choice.  Selecting the perfect wine for your holiday meal can be daunting.  Should you go with what you know or try something new?  When you’re looking for a beverage to pair with almost everything, look no further than Champagne. It’s the perfect breakfast juice, and for the holidays, it’s unbeatable. Grab a turkey leg, eat some stuffing, then finish it off with a glass of Champagne and experience the magical acidity, minerality and fruit come alive.

Try Growers Champagne, from Champagne, France.  There are about 5000 of these small growers of really good juice at a reasonable price. Growers tend to focus on terroir because they want their wines to have a sense of place and the three main grapes grown in Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.  The best way to identify a grower of Champagne is to look for RM (Recoltant-Manipulant) on the label. Some favorites to look for are @Champagne Voirin-Jumel, @Champagne Paul Dethune, @Champagne Marc Hebrart, and @Champagne Paul-Etienne Germain.

You may be visited by your crazy Austrian Uncle Gruner Veltliner, who is really a “foodie”, that’s fun and easygoing.   In fact, he really should be the star attraction at the dinner table due to his compatibility with turkey, peas, artichoke and asparagus.  His reputation was almost completely ruined when the skeletons in his closet exposed an antifreeze scandal, but he just wanted to make you think he was sweeter than he was.  Gruner Veltliner is like a golden Margarita, with vibrant notes of lime, tangerine, green pear and grapefruit brushed with hints of saline and white pepper.  He’s a bit of an acid head, but hang out with Uncle Gruner and you’ll soon welcome him to every holiday table.  Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner from Kamptal is a perfect way to familiarize yourself with Gruner.

Then there’s your French Grandmother, Gamay, but most people know her as Beaujolais.  Don’t be fooled.  Gamay is not as sweet or whimpy as you may think.  Her family skeletons continue to drag down her good name with the annual production of whole cluster grapes crushed under its own weight along with carbon dioxide to produce a non-structured, popsicle-sweet concoction meant for copious consumption on the 3rd week of November.  Stay away from Auntie Beaujolais Nouveau.  Instead, try a Beaujolais Cru from one of the ten communes that grow Gamay in granite soil, creating a rich, velvety texture with red fruit, pomegranates, violets and savory spices.  @Domaine De La Voute des Croze produces Cote-de-Brouilly Beaujolais and is single-handedly crafted by winemaker Nicole Chanrion. Grandma Gamay is a rich, complex patriarch…though you wouldn’t know it from her family.

Now we need a big boy to show up late and make a grand entrance at the family table and guess who knocks at the door: Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which translates to “The Pope’s New Castle”.  If it’s good enough for the Pope, you know it will be a sure crowd pleaser.  Chateauneuf is located in the Southern Rhone Valley of France. The main grapes varieties are Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.  These wines are earthy, gamey flavors, black fruit, white/black pepper and a long lingering finish waiting on the gravy to be poured over the stuffing. Look for these wines: @ChateauRayas, @ChateaudeBeauCastel, @DomaineduVieuxLazaret, and @ClosSaint-jean.

This year open yourself up to something new and open up a bottle of something new.  There’s nothing scary about that.  Cheers #Goodjuice

 

 

 

 

RIESLING, THE BEST WHITE WINE IN THE WORLD

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Mosel is the oldest and arguably the best known of 13 wine regions in Germany. It takes it’s name from the picturesque Mosel River.  Prior to the 2007 vintage, the region was listed as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer; the name was eventually shortened to be more “consumer-friendly.” Mosel is Germany‘s third largest wine region in terms of production.  The region stretches the length of the twisting Mosel River and along it’s two tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer.  The Mosel Valley is well known for it’s steep, terraced hillsides abutting the river banks. In fact, the steepest recorded vineyard in the world is the Mosel’s Calmont vineyard belonging to the village of Bremm.  The Mosel Wine Region is where magic happens because of it’s soil, topography, and climate, producing in my opinion The World’s Greatest White Wine.  “RIESLING”

Riesling is the most versatile of the white grape varieties and no other grape gives you more of a sense of Terrior.  Riesling can either be produced bone dry or sultry sweet and this why Reisling is called the great noble grape in Germany.  Riesling is sexy and interesting while Chardonnay can be down right boring.

To emphasize the specific soil differences that exist within the Mosel, the Blue Slate of the Fahrlay plot produces a Riesling with a particularly intensive mineral flavor and slightly salty note in the finish. Whereas, the Grey Slate produces a Riesling for Grobes Gewachs Marienburg (GG) that is creamy, yellow peach, mango aroma. The harmoniously integrated acidity gives the wine an invigorating freshness with a powerful finish.

The only other white grape that one could compare to the greatness of Riesling is Chardonnay grown in Burgundy France. This is not only where the best Chardonnay is made but it’s also the most expensive white juice on earth. Chardonnay is grown all over the world, whereas Riesling prefers a particular soil to show her greatness and the Mosel Region in Germany is perfect.

The families below have pioneered and contributed to produce the best Reisling in the world:

The Prum family story dates back to 1156 when they owned vineyards throughout the mid-Mosel, including parcels in the towns of Bernkastel, Graach, Wehlen and Zeltingen. Current owner Raimund Prum, aka “The Red Prum,” took over the reins in 1971, following the unforeseen passing of his young father.

The Clemens Busch family is one of the top producers of Dry Organic Riesling in Germany. The estate is located in the village of Pünderich (near Bernkastel) far down stream in the Mosel wine-growing region. The family lives in a restored 1663 timber-framed house that sits directly on the banks of the Mosel River facing some of the steepest vineyards in the Mosel.

St Urbans-Hof winery was founded in 1947 by Nicolaus Weis who held a strong conviction that the fragile unity of viticulture and nature must be recognized and respected. In 1997 Nicolaus’ grandson Nik(olaus) joined the winery to work alongside his father Hermann who had overseen operations since the 1960s.  Today St. Urbans-Hof is the second largest family-owned winery in the Mosel

EXPLORING THE WORLD’S BEST WHITE WINE REGION

Mosel is the oldest and arguably the best known of 13 wine regions in Germany. It takes its name from the picturesque Mosel River that flows through it (French: Moselle).  Prior to the 2007 vintage, the region was listed on labels as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer; the name was eventually shortened to be more “consumer-friendly.” Mosel is Germany‘s third largest wine region in terms of production.  The region stretches the length of the twisting Mosel River and along its two tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer.  The Mosel Valley is well known for its steep, terraced hillsides abutting the river banks. In fact, the steepest recorded vineyard in the world, the Mosel’s Calmont vineyard belonging to the village of Bremm,  The Mosel Wine Region is where magic happens because of it’s soil, topography,  and climate it produces in my opinion The World’s Greatest White Wine.  “RIESLING”

Recently, I visited a few of the region’s outstanding wineries to find out how these world class Rieslings are made. Cheers

 

Weingut S.A. Prum20160402_211729

The Prum family story dates back to 1156 when they owned vineyards throughout the mid-Mosel, including parcels in the towns of Bernkastel, Graach, Wehlen and Zeltingen. Current owner Raimund Prum, aka “The Red Prum,” took over the reigns in 1971, following the unforeseen passing of his young father. From an early age Raimund’s sole focus was to become a great winemaker. He left home to start studying wine at the University.  At the age of 20 he received an urgent message that his father was extremely ill. Sadly, Raimund lost his father within the year.

As Raimund assumed the helm of the family, caring for his mother and two sisters, he never gave up his childhood dream of becoming a great winemaker and producer of world-class Riesling.  His dream and resolve to manage his family’s winery propelled him to convince a banker to take a chance on a young 21 year-old with a plan and a dream to make great wine.

Today, the estate owns 40 hectares of vineyards and holds contracts on an additional 60 hectares within the Mosel.  Prum produces 15 different Rieslings— all world-class wines full of freshness, acidity and minerality with fruit bursting out of the glass.

During my tasting at S.A. Prum I tried 30 wines from various vintages and every Riesling was of the highest quality.  Raimond Prum is truly a winemaker of unmeasured talent in the Mosel.

S.A. Prum’s best-selling wine in the USA is Essence.  Available at P.F. Chang’s, this wine is a refreshing, easy-drinking Riesling. #Goodjuice

S.A. Prum Blue is an off-dry Riesling with stone fruit, ripe acidity and a bee’s wax finish.  This is a beautiful, reasonably priced, dry Riesling.  Cheers

S.A. Prum Wehlemer Sonnenhur 2008. Notes of pineapple and apricot. This wine has character, complexity and a long, salty, elegant finish. Cheers, #Goodjuice

S.A. Prum Bernkasteler Lay 2010.  Pure apricot on the palate.  Lovely and salty with balance throughout the finish. WOW #Goodjuice

 

 

Weingut St. Urbans–Hof20160330_205731

This winery was founded in 1947 by Nicolaus Weis who held a strong conviction that the fragile unity of viticulture and nature must be recognized and respected.

In 1997 Nicolaus’ grandson Nik(olaus) joined the winery to work alongside his father Hermann who had overseen operations since the 1960s.  Today St. Urbans-Hof is the second largest family-owned winery in the Mosel.  I first met Nik in Fort Lauderdale over lunch.  After tasting his wines, I knew I must visit Mosel to examine the soil that gave birth to such world-class wines. I had the pleasure of visiting the Weis family estate in Leiwen to taste their amazing Rieslings.  Sitting alongside several of Germany’s future sommeliers, all enjoyed an array of traditional German cuisine as we sampled some 21+ wines of the Kabinett, Spatlese, and Auslese style Rieslings. The estate wines range not only in style, but also in price – there is something for everyone’s financial and literal palate.  I sensed many unique qualities in these wines, a true reflection of the region’s distinct and special terroir.

The St. Urbans-Hof wines are bursting with ripe acidity and minerality, making them a perfect choice for pairing with German, Thai, or other spicy cuisine.

St. Urbans-Hof 2014 Urban ($15). This is Nik Wies’ best-selling wine in the USA.  A fun easy-to-drink wine for a hot summer day. Nice acidity and good fruit.

St. Urbans-Hof Goldtropfchen Piesport Spatlese Riesling 2004.   Made from grapes 80+ years old. Boasts honeysuckle fruit and a great creamy mid-palate to the finish.  # Goodjuice

St. Urbans-Hof Goldtropfchen Spatlese 1999.  WOW – fresh, lemon rind, honey, green apple, and pear.  The long finish was pure lemon drop. Cheers #Goodjuice

 

Weigunt Clemens Busch20160401_114834

The Clemens Busch winery is one of the top producers of Dry Organic Riesling in Germany. The estate is located in the village of Pünderich (near Bernkastel) far down stream in the Mosel wine-growing region. The family lives in a restored 1663 timber-framed house that sits directly on the banks of the Mosel River. A vaulted cellar constructed in the 1970s lies further uphill to avoid potential flooding. Rita and Clemens Busch have overseen the day-to-day business operations since 1986. They have a total of 11 hectares under vines in the Pünderich locations of Marienburg and Nonnengarten.  The Busch’s maintain a strong commitment to ecological and organic wine making.

Special attention is paid at the Busch winery to the cultivation of resistant grapevines. This is achieved above all through the use of natural fertilizers, clay minerals and plant extracts. The grapes are only squeezed lightly or left whole before pressing at very low pressure. The best batches are then fermented in stainless steel, the others in wood.

To emphasize the specific differences that exist within the Marienburg vineyard, the corresponding wines still bear the names of the old plots. These include in particular the Fahrlay and Fahrlay-Terrassen, Falkenlay and Raffes, as well as Rothenpfad and Felsterrasse. Accordingly, the blue slate of the Fahrlay plot produces a Riesling with a particularly intensive mineral flavour and slightly salty notes in the finish, whereas the grey slate of the Falkenlay plot produces particularly creamy, fruit-driven Rieslings.

Grey slate dominates in the original Pündericher Marienburg location and this is where the grapes for »Großes Gewächs Marienburg GG« are harvested among others. This is an outstanding Riesling with a particularly fine yellow peach, mango aroma. The harmoniously integrated acidity gives the wine an invigorating freshness with a powerful finish, very good structure and backbone.

Finally, I would like to thank the following wineries for their hospitality and #goodjuice:

 

Weinget-Schloss Liser.  Germany’s Winemaker of the Year and owner Thomas Haag doesn’t believe in using oak to enhance his wines.  Rather, Haag believes Riesling is such a noble grape that it should be allowed to stand on it’s own. Haag wines are fresh with lively acidity and good minerality, leading to a long finish.

 

Selbach-Oster.  Our host was Barbara Selback, part of the wife and husband team that runs this winery.  They have owned the winery since 1989, Production 130,000 bottles and they make 35 different wines from eight different sites within the Mosel. This was the first time I’ve tasted a 2015 Weissbungunder-Pinot Blanc. I found it to be a nice, easy drinking wine.  The 2013 Selbach-Oster Zwitinger Sonnenhur Riesling Auslese yielded notes of apricot, honey and yellow stone fruit leading to a fresh creamy finish.

 

Schloss Johnnishberg located in the Rheingaue is the oldest Riesling winery in the world. It first came into existence in 1720.  Schloss Johnnishberg has 40 hectares and makes nine different wines. Interestingly, they also make their own oak barrels. I tasted several of their fabulous Rieslings, ranging from from sweet to dry. The wines were well-made and balanced with elegant fruit (white peach), good acidity and a long mineral finish. #goodjuice.