Category Archives: Syrah

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

 

 

 

 

Washington state wine auction week, Journey to Walla Walla

My journey began on August 10 flying into Seattle’s airport spending the night and a relatively comfortable Marriott Courtyard hotel,  and getting up Monday morning August 11 and driving with a bunch of wine lovers down to Walla Walla Washington. As we were looking for the city of Yakima Washington and was not able to locate the downtown area, we stumbled upon two wineries Bernard Griffin and J Bookwalter these were two fabulous wineries.

We tasted approximately 15 wines at these two wineries and they are very good wineries within Washington state.  Our first stop in Walla Walla was long shadow winery and two of the highlights were The Pedestal one of the finer Merlot made in Washington state and 2011 Feathers.

Sleight of Hand Cellars, owner is Trey Bush this is a fun and exciting winery taking after their owner and the best way I can describe it is that he makes serious good juice. If you can find it you should buy it.

Va Piano vineyards established in 1999 and the owner is Justin they make a few different wines at this winery but his reserve Rhone blends are phenomenal. And worthy of exception praise.

The second day began with L’Ecole 41 a winery that has been extremely consistent in wine making for a very long time in Walla Walla and has recently received an award for their 2011 Ferguson Cabernet as Washington states wine of the year.

ABEJA, first of all I would like to thank Molly and John for their unbelievable hospitality during our visit. Their Chardonnay was the finest Chardonnay I’ve tasted in a Washington state, and their consistency in making a wonderful Cabernet is unmatched in Walla Walla.

Corliss estate, owner Michael Corliss is one of the great winemakers of Washington state and has consistently made great wines from Red Mountain and his 2008 Cabernet Franc is just one example.

Seven Hills Vineyard, Casey is the winemaker and owner he’s what you might call an experimental guy that likes to grow several different grape varietals and believe it or not he grows them all very well.  His top wines are from Red Mountain in Washington state. Ciel Du Cheval is a Bordeaux blend and Pentad 2012 red wine blend was an incredible complex wine and the best wine that we tasted at the winery that day.

Charles Smith winery, and we were hosted by the owner Charles Smith, he does not make anything small his wines are big lots of fruit, complex and built to give you great joy.

On Wednesday morning our first stopped on Red Mountain was Kiona the oldest winery on Red Mountain first planting grapes in 1982 a very good winery with some serious complex wines being made there. These wines are being made by the son of the owner, who calls himself “The one eye winemaker”

And finally Hedges winery these people have been making wine on Red Mountain for quite a long time and have been doing an exceptional job of not only making great wines but wines that are very affordable with excellent quality.