Showing posts with label Adelaida District. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adelaida District. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

From A High Hill In Paso Robles - Alta Colina Wines

A recent virtual tasting event gave me the chance to sample some of the latest releases from Alta Colina winery.  They are based in Paso Robles' Adelaida District at a nice elevation.  In fact, their name translates as "high hill."  The event was hosted by Stacie Jacob, with Mike Dawson of Solterra Strategies also on the Zoom call.  

The stars of the tasting were Bob and Maggie Tillman, the father-daughter team who run the business.  Winemaking is handled by relative newcomer Molly Lonborg.  Bob commented at the outset of the session that Alta Colina is his "retirement program run amok."  He has been at it for 18 years now.  He says he just started making wine, "and it got out of hand."

Alta Colina grows Rhône grapes on their estate, organically farmed.  The grapes are not organic, because he has never gone for accreditation.  Says Molly, "Organic is a philosophy, not a marketing tool."

The 2020 Alta Colina Grenache Blanc Estate Bottled is all white Grenache, a 50/50 blend of tank- and barrel-fermented Grenache Blanc.  The wine has a pale yellow tint and a nose of citrus and minerals - akin to the smell of a wet sidewalk.  On the palate are pear, honeydew and peach flavors delivered with a full mouthfeel and a fresh and lively acidity.  Pairing suggestions include manchego cheese and paella, although it is so versatile that you can let your imagination run wild.

The 2019 Alta Colina Claudia Cuvée Marsanne is also a varietal wine.  Bob says it was named after his mother, who was a big fan of white wines.  Claudia Cuvée was aged in oak for 16 months.  It's a blend of all four white Rhône varieties that they grow, Marsanne leading the way for Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier.  Molly says she focused on the texture of the wine while making it.  Try it with Alpine style cheese or lobster dishes.

Their 2018 GSM Grenache Blend boasts 73% Grenache grapes, 15% Mourvèdre and 12% Syrah.  It's not an oak-forward wine - they say they let the grapes do the talking.  It only had six months aging in oak, and another year in the bottle.  It shows.  This is a very fresh and fruit-forward wine, with ripe, red fruit in front.  Molly explained that the Grenache drives the palate for the fruit experience, the Mourvedre is for earthy notes and Syrah takes care of the backbone.  A creamy cheese, like Cambozola goes well with it, or wild mushrooms.

Alta Colina's 2018 Old 900 Syrah contains 96% Syrah grapes, with 2% splashes of Grenache and Viognier.  Molly said that they do co-ferment with Viognier, but this wine was blended after the fact.  Old 900 was the name of the Bomber Bob's father flew in WWII.  The grapes came from a north facing vineyard plot, rather than the Toasted Slope vineyard plot, which is south facing.  The color is very dark and the nose shows cassis, blackberry, blueberry, black pepper and a hint of bacon.  The palate is delightfully earthy and the finish is lengthy and savory.  Have some blue cheese on hand for this, or maybe braised short ribs.  


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

DAOU Family Estates - Soul Of A Lion

The Paso Robles wine region is so often overlooked that we could excuse them if they developed a complex about it.  You could call Paso California’s "forgotten" wine region - or is that Temecula?  

Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, for my money, gives Napa Valley a good deal of competition.  The limestone influence in the Paso dirt plays wonderfully in red wines, as well as white.  And, while Napa may be elegant, Paso has a more rustic approach which I find compelling.

Paso Robles winemaker Daniel Daou is bringing out his new Cab release this month, the 2018 Soul of a Lion, the crown jewel of DAOU Family Estates, named in honor of his father. 

Soul of a Lion puts Paso Robles on the map for world-class Cabernet Sauvignon.  It showcases Daou's vision to produce Bordeaux-style wines that combine elegance, freshness, and power.  The 2018 vintage has all the hallmarks of its cooler growing season, revealing both the power and finesse.

The winery credits DAOU Mountain's "remarkable geology, microclimate, a 2,200-foot elevation and steep slopes" for creating what they call "a jewel of ecological elements."

The 2018 Soul of a Lion was made from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot, all grown in Paso's Adelaida District.  The wine was aged for 22 months in 100% new French oak.   Alcohol sits at 14.7% abv and the retail price tag is $150 for a 750ml bottle.

This wine is inky in the glass, with no light getting through its rich, purple shade.  The nose is a showcase for black and blue fruit, with a good deal of minerality and some nice floral notes.  A little sweet oak spice comes through as well.  On the palate, the fruit is dominant, but there is an ample sense of spice.  The tannins are quite firm upon the first pour, but they settle down after the bottle has been open for a while.  The finish is long and satisfying.  In a region which produces outstanding Cabernet blends, this is one of the better ones.

 

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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Chillable Red Wines For Summer

Summertime's warm weather and outside gatherings always leave people throwing a case of beer into a washtub of ice.  Red wines typically don't translate well to a backyard barbecue.  However, here are a pair of reds that take a chill very well.

They are made by Thacher Winery and Vineyard, a boutique producer in Paso Robles' west side.  Winemaker Sherman Thacher and Assistant Winemaker Daniel Callan are working with an admirable collection of grapes, from Chenin Blanc to Cinsault, from Négrette to Nebbiolo, from Viognier to Valdiguié.

The Thacher 2019 Cinsault was grown in the Glenrose Vineyard in Paso's Adelaida District.  Those Cinsault grapes came from a cutting taken off of a vine that was in an old UC Davis experimental station, a vineyard which had fallen from university ownership in the early 1900s yet was rediscovered in 1961 and found to be thriving.

The grapes were foot trodden and fermented whole cluster.  The wine was allowed to achieve malolactic fermentation in neutral oak barrels for four months, then racked into large concrete tanks where it aged for a year.  Alcohol sits at 13.5% abv and the wine retails for $36.

This wine has a medium garnet tint to it, but is full red, not rosato red.  The nose is amazing - there is a bit of raspberry, a touch of redwood and a hint of cinnamon.  I don't recall ever smelling a wine like it.  On the palate, again, amazing.  Red berries of some sort dominate - like the kind we would pick along the railroad tracks in East Texas - and there is a mild tartness and peppery quality.  The tannins are firm enough for those burgers from the grill and the acidity is refreshing.  Chill this for your backyard barbecues and everyone will want to know what it is, and where they can get some.


Thacher’s 2020 Valdiguié Nouveau hails from the Paso Robles Highlands District, the Shell Creek Vineyard.  For a century, Valdiguié was thought to be a clone of the Gamay grape, grown in Beaujolais.  It was known as Napa Gamay.  Growers and winemakers love it, but most of the vines were ripped out when Cabernet Sauvignon became the grape of the day in California wine.  It is almost extinct today.

The grapes were fermented as in a Beaujolais Nouveau - carbonic fermentation in a tank, whole cluster, and spent seven weeks on the stems and skins.  The wine was then racked to neutral oak, where malolactic fermentation happened.  The wine stayed in oak for five months.  Alcohol is low, at 12% abv and it retails for $28.

This wine is medium dark red in the glass and has a nose of strawberry and cherry, with an earthy element added to it - sort of a Beaujolais feel.  The palate offers up brilliant cherry notes and a racy acidity, along with rather firm tannins.  The oak treatment - only five months neutral - make this a great choice for backyard cookouts this summer.  Don't be afraid to ice down this unusual grape.  Valdiguié is almost extinct, I'm told.  It was once called Napa Gamay.


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Monday, May 17, 2021

A Taste Of Paso Robles

Sixmilebridge Winery is located in West Paso Robles, along Peachy Canyon Road.  Their small-lot Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties come from organically farmed grapes sourced solely from their two organic, high-elevation estate vineyards, Maidie and Grace, in Paso's Adelaida District AVA.

I was invited to take part in a virtual experience to mark the one-year anniversary of their tasting room.  Proprietors Jim and Barbara Moroney, winemaker Anthony Yount and his wife, vineyard manager Hillary Yount were on hand for the Zoom event.  Publicist Stacey Jacob said the tasting room "opened very quietly" during the pandemic.  No small feat, in a time when established businesses were having trouble just staying open.

Anthony says the two vintages of their Estate Cuvée sampled in the event are "similar in blend, but not in flavor."  He feels the cuvée is the purest expression of what the vineyard has to offer in each vintage.  He credits the elevation and the limestone soil for both making contributions to what can be a rustic feel in the wine.  It is that rusticity which draws me over and over again to Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon.  

Jim commented that a lot of the limestone on the property is tinted a pink, or peachy, color due to the influence of iron deposits.  Jim also revealed that the winery will be going away from calling their blends cuvées, in favor of more "fanciful" names.  He also spoke with pride of the experimentation that his wine team enjoys, for instance that they have planted Semillon and Zinfandel grapes in addition to the other Bordeaux varietals.  

Jim also gave a tip of the hat to all the journalists who were on the Zoom call, revealing that he had been the publisher of the Dallas Morning News for 17 years and was in television news before that.  By the way, he identified the object on the cuvée labels as the hat of a priest from Sixmilebridge, Ireland in the 19th century.

Sixmilebridge Estate Cuvée 2017

The 2017 Sixmilebridge Estate Cuvée was made from 53% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, 17% Merlot, 12% Malbec, 12% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc.  Anthony said that he was shocked by how good the Malbec is in the estate.  Hillary agreed, saying the Malbec is consistently the best fruit they have.  An extremely high heat spike over Labor Day weekend in 2017 apparently softened the tannins somewhat.  The wine aged for 26 months in 82% new French oak barriques.  Alcohol tips 14.2% abv and the retail price is $85.

The '17 vintage has a deep purple color and a deep, rich nose that shows sweet plum, blackberry and cassis notes.  The minerals show up strong as well, providing a savory backdrop for the magnificent fruit.  On the palate, the dark fruit flavors are in control as the minerals chase them.  The oak treatment comes across perfectly, with a wonderful sweetness imparted along with some touches of leather and tobacco.  Acidity is bright and the tannins, while they may have softened, are still quite aggressive upon opening.  Let it sit for an hour or so and they tend to settle down.  

Sixmilebridge Estate Cuvée 2018

The 2018 vintage was made from 48% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, 33% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec and 4% Cabernet Franc.  As in the previous vintage, the wine aged for 26 months in French oak, but only two-thirds of the wood was new.  Alcohol is a bit higher, at 14.6% abv, and the retail price is $85.

The 2018 Cuvée is dark in color, possibly a tad lighter than '17, and the nose offers a more savory expression of the black fruit.  The leather and tobacco notes stride a little stronger in the '18.  Minerality is a big feature in the aroma package.  The palate is dark and rich, with that classic Paso limestone chalkiness making an appearance.  The acidity is refreshing, and the tannins are a bit softer than the '17, while still offering plenty of pairing potential.


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Monday, March 15, 2021

From Finland To Paso Robles - Kukkula Wine

Paso Robles' Adelaida District is home to a winery estate with its roots in Finland.  

Kevin and Paula Jussila are on a wine odyssey which began nearly two decades ago in a small backyard vineyard in Southern California.  The Paso chapter of their story started in 2004 with the beginnings of kukkula wine - KOO-kuh-luh - the lack of capitalization is their choice.  Their name means "the high place" in Finnish.

Kevin's father was from Finland and the man left a lasting impression on his son, who reveres his dad, his birthplace and all things Finnish.  Paula says she is kukkula's co-owner and the winemaker's wife, but thinks of herself more as an enabler… enabling Kevin's dreams.  


Kevin began making wine in the 1990s, using grapes grown in his tiny Topanga vineyard.  Today, his wines have unusual names: Pas De Deux, Lothario and In The Red.  There are also names that reflect Kevin's Finnish heritage, like Aatto, Kaamos and Vaalea. The latter is kukkula's only white wine, a blend of Grenache blanc, Rous­sanne, and Viognier.  Some of the names look daunting, but the labels feature pronouncers to help the non-Scandinavian among us.

The kukkula estate is organic and dry farmed, which the Jussilas feel will allow them to "cre­ate wines of intense aro­mat­ics, fla­vors, and col­or, that are a true expres­sion of place, and the essence of their terroir."  They grow olives, too, and make olive oil and a delicious wine jelly in addition to their wines.  They have no distribution in the United States - their sales are mostly club-driven.  They are distributed in Finland, however, where the brand is highly respected.

The 2017 kukkula Aatto is made from the estate's specialty - Rhône grape varieties.  It contains 45% Counoise, 35% Mourvèdre and 20% Grenache grapes.  Counoise, in France, is typically used more sparingly as a minor component in a blend.  Its lead role in Aatto gives the wine a stylish, highly perfumed presence.  Aatto sports alcohol at 15.4% abv and it retails for $55.

The 2017 Aatto has a medium-dark garnet color with a slight brownish tint.  It pours up looking older than its four years.  The nose carries a strongly perfumed floral note as its banner - lilacs and oleanders come to mind.  Beneath that, dark fruit - currant, blackberry, plum - rise above the flowerbed.  Sweet spice - vanilla and cinnamon - play a minor role.  On the palate, it is a youthful show of the fruit that demands attention.  Tannins are firm and finely honed, and the acidity provides a lip-smacking delight.  This is a wine I would like to have with a pork chop or rosemary ham, but it could also handle beefy dishes.


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Monday, November 23, 2020

Wine From The Limestone Hills Of Paso Robles

Brecon Estate is a boutique winery in Paso Robles, in the rolling hills of the region's West Side, the Adelaida District.  Welsh winemaker Damian Grindley and Australian entrepreneur Simon Hackett combine their talents to produce small batches of wine which are produced through passion.  Grindley loves the limestone soil of the Central Coast and the wines which come from it.

The Brecon estate sports vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Malbec and more - some of which were planted years ago by a pioneer of the region.

The 2018 Brecon Estate Cabernet Franc Reserve was made from the grapes of Paso Robles’ Adelaida District, 89% Cab Franc and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The winery says that both varieties are among the oldest planted in Paso.  Alcohol hits 15.2% abv and the wine sells for $73.

This wine has a medium-dark ruby tint to it.  The nose has dark fruit, a touch of bell pepper and other herbal scents.  Fruit plays large on the palate, and the acidity is refreshing while the tannins are razor sharp.  Herbal elements linger on the delightful finish.


The 2018 Brecon Estate Mourvèdre also hails from Paso's Adelaida District.  It is a single-vineyard hilltop wine which carries alcohol at 14.8% abv and retails for $64.

This wine shows a medium color in the glass with a little shading at the edge.  The nose is full of ripe blackberry, cassis, smoke, cigar box and clove.  The palate is rich and full, with dark fruit and sweet oak spice providing a counterpoint to the savory notes of minerality.  The acidity is fresh and the tannins are firm.


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Monday, November 16, 2020

Bordeaux Grapes From Paso Robles' West Side

Brecon Estate is a boutique winery in Paso Robles, in the rolling hills of the region's West Side, the Adelaida District.  Welsh winemaker Damian Grindley and Australian entrepreneur Simon Hackett combined their talents to produce small batches of wine which were produced through passion.  Grindley loves the limestone soil of the Central Coast and the wines which come from it.

The Brecon estate sports vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Malbec and more - some of which were planted years ago by a pioneer of the region.

The 2018 Brecon Estate Cabernet Franc Reserve was made from the grapes of Paso Robles' Adelaida District, 89% Cab Franc and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The winery says that both varieties are among the oldest planted in Paso.  Alcohol hits 15.2% abv and the wine sells for $73.


This wine has a medium-dark ruby tint to it.  The nose has dark fruit, a touch of bell pepper and other herbal scents.  Fruit plays large on the palate, and the acidity is refreshing while the tannins are razor sharp.  Herbal elements linger on the delightful finish.

The 2018 Brecon Estate Mourvèdre also hails from Paso's Adelaida District.  It is a single-vineyard hilltop wine which carries alcohol at 14.8% abv and retails for $64.

This wine shows a medium color in the glass with a little shading at the edge.  The nose is full of ripe blackberry, cassis, smoke, cigar box and clove.  The palate is rich and full, with dark fruit and sweet oak spice providing a counterpoint to the savory notes of minerality.  The acidity is fresh and the tannins are firm.


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Monday, January 6, 2020

Winter White Wines

White wines are not just for summers and salads.  There are rich, full-bodied whites which are bold and warming - perfect for the colder weather.  They also pair beautifully with winter dishes - root vegetables, stews and herbs like fennel go particularly well with a nice, well balanced Chardonnay, for example.  I find that whites aged in oak serve me better in the winter than unoaked wines.  In fact, oak makes a white wine feels like Christmas to me.  I prefer an easy touch on the wood, however. 

Tablas Creek Vineyard Esprit de Tablas Blanc 2017

Tablas Creek Vineyards was founded by the Perrin family - of Château de Beaucastel fame - and the late Robert Haas of Vineyard Brands.  The winery is dedicated to sustainably farming Rhône grape varieties in what is now the Adelaida District of Paso Robles.  To try and replicate the Beaucastel estate's renowned quality, the partners imported vines from the French estate - Mourvédre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Counoise, Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul Blanc among them. 

The 2017 Tablas Creek Vineyard Esprit de Tablas Blanc is a blend of five of those estate-grown varieties, grown from Beaucastel cuttings.  The winery says the Roussanne grapes provide the core richness, minerality, and flavors of honey and spice, while Grenache Blanc adds green apple and anise flavors, a lush mouthfeel and bright acids. Picpoul Blanc contributes tropical brightness and salinity.  The 2017 vintage is the first to incorporate Picardan and Clairette Blanche grapes.  The former brings elegance while the latter is crisp and citrusy.  The percentages break down this way: 68% Roussanne, 17% Grenache Blanc, 7% Picpoul Blanc, 4% Picardan and 4% Clairette Blanche.

The winery says Esprit de Blanc combines "the richness and structure of Roussanne, the green fruit of Grenache Blanc, the citrusy lift of Picpoul Blanc and the floral minerality of Picardin and Clairette Blanche."  All the wine's components experienced full malolactic fermentation for a rich and creamy mouthfeel.

The grapes for Esprit were whole-cluster pressed, with the Roussanne fermenting in oak barrels.  The other grapes were fermented in mostly stainless steel tanks, with a little neutral wood.  The blend was put back into oak for eight months aging, and it rested another nine months in the bottle.  Alcohol hits only 13% abv and the wine sells on the Tablas website for $45.

Tablas Creek recommends pairing the wine with carrot, leek and potato soup, fish with fennel or grilled scallops.

This wine has a nose full of lemons, limes and that good Paso Robles minerality.  There is a nutty angle that plays in, too, but not as strongly as I anticipated given the presence of Roussanne.  The palate is tasty and ripe, with citrus taking the lead ahead of those minerals and a floral element showing late.  It's a great white wine for winter - full, with a touch of warming oak.  Pair it with root vegetable dishes or any kind of fish.


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