Showing posts with label Santa Margarita. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Santa Margarita. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Paso Cabs: Not Eastside Or Westside - Broadside

There was a recent virtual tasting event dedicated to a few new vintages of the Broadside line, and those who participated through social media were impressed. The Broadside wines tasted and discussed:

Broadside Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2014 ($20)
Broadside Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($18)
Broadside Margarita Vineyard Merlot 2013 ($22)
Broadside Margarita Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($25)

Broadside Wine is actually Paso power couple, Brian and Stephanie Terrizzi, who hosted the virtual tasting event. Brian is the minimalist winemaker focusing on varietal purity and vineyard expression. Stephanie is the viticulturalist waving the banner for bio-organic viticulture in Paso Robles. Jon Bonné writes that she "has become the area’s great alternative vineyardist." When she is not busy with her Broadside work, she wins over Paso grape growers to the side of organic and sustainable farming and certifications.


Broadside Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

This wine is put together using Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Half of them were harvested from Margarita Vineyard and half from two other sustainably farmed vineyards. The selection of fruit is great - Margarita Vineyard has some of the best terroir in California - and the alcohol comes very restrained at 13.9% abv.  The real surprise is the retail price - $16. That is a great price point for a wine that hits so very well on the palate, as this one does.

Inky indigo, the wine has a beautiful nose of cassis and blueberry. Cedar, leather and pipe tobacco play large supporting roles. The fruit is as dark on the palate as it is on the nose. A sense of forest floor comes through as well, darkening things further. Just a shade of graphite shows up. The wine reminds me more of the Rhône than of Bordeaux.


Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon Margarita Vineyard 2013

Margarita Vineyard is located as far south in the Paso Robles AVA as one can get. The vineyard is on an uplifted ancient seabed full of granitic shale and oyster shells. It has more terroir going for it than than most places do. It is the estate vineyard for Ancient Peaks Winery, which I toured about five years ago.

The grapes from the sustainably farmed vineyard are 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot  The French oak in which the wine was aged was nearly all neutral, only three percent of the barrels were new. Alcohol hits 14.2% abv and the wine retails for $25.

This single-vineyard Paso Cab puts forth the distinctive terroir of Margarita Vineyard quite well. A focused fruit-and-mineral balance on the nose shows the effect of the uplifted seabed while cigar box, leather and smoke exemplify the two years of oak. The palate is suitably dark for the serious tannic structure it accompanies. Cassis, plum, licorice and a long, fine finish are a delight. Well worth the money. Well worth much more.


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Monday, December 7, 2015

A Chardonnay And Merlot To Hit You Broadside

A few years ago, I saw a Cabernet Sauvignon on a wine list at a Santa Monica wine bar, and I was drawn to order it. I usually don't order a Cab - something a little more adventurous, please - but this one was from Margarita Vineyard in the Paso Robles AVA. The grapes of this vineyard were familiar to me through the wines of Ancient Peaks Winery, so I had to try it. I loved it. It was from a winery called Broadside.

There was a recent virtual tasting event dedicated to a few new vintages of the Broadside line, and those who participated through social media were impressed. The Broadside wines tasted and discussed:

Broadside Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2014 ($20)
Broadside Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($18)
Broadside Margarita Vineyard Merlot 2013 ($22)
Broadside Margarita Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($25)

Broadside Wine is actually Paso power couple Brian and Stephy Terrizzi, who hosted the virtual tasting event. Brian is the minimalist winemaker focusing on varietal purity and vineyard expression. Stephy is the viticulturalist waving the banner for bio-organic viticulture in Paso Robles. Jon Bonné writes that she "has become the area’s great alternative vineyardist." When she is not busy with her Broadside work, she wins over Paso grape growers to the side of organic and sustainable farming and certifications.

Broadside Central Coast Chardonnay Wild Ferment 2014
The grapes for this wine are sourced from San Luis Obispo County. The wine hits a moderate 13.5% abv and retails for $20.

This golden Chardonnay has a muted nose - tropical fruit and apple are just noticeable - while the palate has the fruit more pronounced. Pineapple and pear flavors come through, with a hint of apricot. The fruit profile is quite interesting, and an earthy, savory quality adds complexity. The acidity is nice, but not overwhelming. It's not a fat Chardonnay, but it's not real lean, either.

Pair the Broadside Chardonnay with chicken, potatoes, veggies and cheese in any combination. Salads and fish will definitely work in combination with this wine.

Broadside Paso Robles Merlot, Margarita Vineyard 2013

A little more heft in the Merlot, at 14.4% abv and carries a $22 price tag.

Publicity blurbs don't always tell the true nature of their subjects, but the one for Margarita Vineyard does. "You can feel the presence of the Pacific Ocean here," it says, "both in the sudden chill of the maritime air, and the white, fossilized marine shells that pockmark the limestone soils." This patch of Paso Robles land looks different from other vineyards, and the wines it yields allow us to taste that difference.

The ‘13 Broadside Merlot is so dark that no light gets through. The nose is fabulously deep, with big cassis aromas playing fast and loose with coffee, cocoa, licorice, sage and a puff of campfire smoke. Fruit flavors dominate the palate - blue and black berries, plums and black currants. There is a layer of holiday spice on a layer of chunky minerality wrapped in a lovely acidity and tied up with tannins that are almost as smooth as silk.

You can read about the two Broadside Cabernet Sauvignons we tasted in an upcoming article.


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Monday, August 10, 2015

Merlot From The Santa Margarita Ranch AVA

The folks at Ancient Peaks Winery talk a lot about the unique terroir they have at their Margarita Vineyard.  That's not just a lot of air, either.  The estate vineyard sports five different soil types, from ancient oyster beds to the remainder of ancient volcanos.  Indeed, they sit in the shadow of those ancient peaks.  They boast that the "Santa Margarita Ranch AVA is situated along the foot of the coastal Santa Lucia Mountain Range, roughly 25 miles southeast of the city of Paso Robles and just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the west."  Oh, yeah, that's another claim they now have: "Our estate Margarita Vineyard now enjoys the rare distinction of being the only vineyard located within its own namesake AVA."  Well, isn't that special!  Yes, in fact, it is.

The 2012 Ancient Peaks Merlot hails from that distinctive terroir, and AP Director of Winemaking Mike Sinor says the 2012 is even more special that the previous two vintages. "2010 and 2011 were very cold, very challenging vintages" Sinor states in the wine’s video. "With '12, we got sort of a nice weather profile, a nice amount of rain and we could tell very early in the vintage that we had a very special year for Merlot."

The Merlot grapes come from three of their six blocks devoted to Merlot. According to the website, "Block 7 yields dark, intensely flavored fruit with both softness and power. Block 4 produces lighter red fruit qualities with lively acidity, while Block 5 splits the difference with a blend of black and red fruit characteristics." The wine is 85% Merlot, 13% Malbec and there is a two percent splash of Cabernet Sauvignon. Aging occurred over 18 months in French and American oak barrels.  4,501 cases were produced, and it sells online for around $15.

This wine is deep and dark. The inky indigo color telegraphs the nose, exploding with blue and black berries and cassis, a whiff of campfire smoke and a mountain of prehistoric terroir. The palate is laden with dark fruit, too, not to mention spice and earth. The sage and rosemary linger into a finish that won't let you forget them. The tannic structure is fit for meat and aging while the acidity refreshes and causes the mouth to water.


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Monday, February 23, 2015

Paso Robles Terroir On Display In Ancient Peaks Zinfandel

The folks at Ancient Peaks Winery talk a lot about what unique terroir they have at their Margarita Vineyard.  All that talk about dirt is not just a lot of air, either.  The estate vineyard sports five different soil types, from ancient oyster beds to the remainder of ancient volcanos.  Indeed, they sit in the shadow of those ancient peaks.  They boast that the "Santa Margarita Ranch AVA is situated along the foot of the coastal Santa Lucia Mountain Range, roughly 25 miles southeast of the city of Paso Robles and just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the west."  Oh, yeah, that's another claim they now have: "Our estate Margarita Vineyard now enjoys the rare distinction of being the only vineyard located within its own namesake AVA."  Well, isn't that special!  Yes, in fact, it is.

The 2012  Ancient Peaks Zinfandel blends fruit grown in three of those five distinct soil types.  As described by the winery, grapes from the volcanic soil of Block 32 provides a varietal spiciness to the wine, while fruit grown in the shale of Block 49 kicks in some dark fruitiness. From the gravelly soils of Block 39 come the wine's backbone.  91% of the grapes are Zinfandel, while 9% are Petite Sirah.

The individual lots were fermented and placed in oak barrels, 40% French and 60% American, of which 20% were new.  Aging took place over 17 months, so there is plenty of oakiness here..  6,072 cases were produced.

Medium ruby coloring decorates the wine visually.  Aromas of cherries - bright and ripe - lead the nose, with raspberry, vanilla, pepper and hot chocolate adding complexity.  Cherry plays on the palate, too, with blackberry, oak spice, black pepper, mocha, a little black tea in supporting roles.

There is a really great mineral streak here - no big surprise considering the array of rocks and shells apparent in the vineyard.  Juicy acidity and firm tannins make it a great wine to pair with a grilled burger.  It works well with a bit of a chill on it, but the flavors really open up as it warms.  Dessert fans should note that it's awesome with dark chocolate.


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Thursday, December 1, 2011

ANCIENT PEAKS RENEGADE 2009


Ancient Peaks Renegade

Nearly every wine lover has some favorite producers, a wineries you turn to when you want either "tried and true" or "pleasantly surprised."  One of mine is Ancient Peaks Winery in Santa Margarita, California, about 20 miles south of Paso Robles at the foot of the Santa Lucia Mountain range.

It was indeed a pleasant surprise to open the box and find that they had sent a bottle of their 2009 Renegade red blend for me to try.  This may read more like a heart on my sleeve than a full disclosure, but so be it.  I like the AP folks, and I like the wines they make.

Renegade is made from grapes grown in Ancient Peaks' estate Margarita Vineyard.  The winery's press release claims its historic site - the Santa Margarita Ranch, near Paso Robles, California - has played host to missionaries, gunslingers, roughriders and outlaws.  The legacy of this varied cast of characters provided the inspiration for the name.

I've written before in Now And Zin about the Santa Margarita Vineyard and its wonderful terroir.  The wines made from its grapes have never failed to impress me, and are among my favorite California wines.

The varieties used in Renegade - 46% Syrah, 31% Malbec and 23% Petit Verdot - give the promise of a substantial and complex wine.  The individual lots were aged in oak barrels, 35% of which use new oak.  The oak is 60% French and 40% American.  The wine is aged for 18 months in these conditions.  Ancient Peaks Renegade brings a 14.5% abv level - a little below standard issue for the region - and just over 1,000 cases were produced.  The wine retails for $23 per bottle.

The nose shows big blackberry aromas, along with coffee, black cherry and a waft of black olives.  The second night the bottle was open, a note of tar made itself known.
On the palate, the flavor of plums is joined by a meaty characteristic and firm tannins. The savory aspect increases after a day’s rest.  The wine displays a vary dark and earthy fruit expression, which isn’t surprising considering the grape varieties used.




Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ANCIENT PEAKS PETIT VERDOT 2008


Ancient Peaks Petit Verdot

Earlier this year I paid a visit to Ancient Peaks Winery in Santa Margarita, California and was given the tour of their property.  The Margarita Vineyard, looked over by the ancient mountain peaks of the Santa Lucia range from which the winery takes its name, is of particular note. 

This sustainably-farmed vineyard has been geologically blessed with five distinct soil types: ancient sea bed, 
sedimentary, shale, volcanic and granitic.  This array of soil composition is credited for giving the grapes within their complex aromas and flavors once they have been vinified.
Ancient Peaks winemaker Michael Sinor says their mission is to let "the soil speak through the grapes, and eventually into thewine."
The '08 Ancient Peaks Petit Verdot is a 100% varietal wine with some heft.  It tips the scales at 15.2% abv,  a number which is not all that high for the Paso Robles AVA.  The grapes are taken largely from the cool Margarita Vineyard with a bit from the warmer Wittstrom Vineyard northwest of Paso Robles.  The wine retails for $35.
On the nose, aromas of cassis show prominently, with the minerality for which the vineyard is known.  Some of that 15.2% shows up at first, too.  The mouthfeel is quite full, with very firm tannins, very dark fruit and strong minerality.  It's delightful to find that, after all that brawn, there’s a light sense of violets on the finish.
Once the bottle has been open for a while, the wine opens up beautifully and takes on a tarry note along with the intense dark fruit and earth.  The tannins remain firm, though.



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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

BROADSIDE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008


Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon

One of my favorite stops for "anytime wine tasting" in Southern California is the Santa Monica wine bar Pourtal.  Stephen Abronson's cozy little space near the beach is filled with Enomatic taps where wine is dispensed by the ounce.  You can have a taste of many or a glass of one or two.  There are always themed Tasting Tours which rotate on a monthly basis.  Pourtal's Wine Director Rachel Bryan makes excellent choices on the wines featured at any given time.

I was drawn to try the Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon when I noticed its grapes were taken from the Margarita Vineyard in the southern part of the Paso Robles AVA.  I recently toured this vineyard - the Ancient Peaks estate vineyard - and was mightily impressed with the wines which Ancient Peaks crafted from that fruit.  My hopes were high for the Broadside effort.

Broadside winemakers Chris Brockway and Brian Terrizzi attempt to let the grapes do the talking.  The wine is made naturally, without yeast, bacteria or acid.  Aging occurs in 100% French oak - 2% new - and the varietal makeup is 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petite Verdot, also from Margarita Vineyard.  It has an alcohol level of 14.1% abv.  The Broadside Cab retails for $20 per bottle.

As expected, the wine looks dark and inky in the glass.  The nose is a little hot at first, but that settles down quickly.  Big aromas of dark fruit are laced with the minerals Margarita Vineyard is known for.  On my tour of the vineyard, I saw firsthand the ancient oyster shells peeking up from the earth - a reminder of the land's former state as a seabed.

The taste is also enticingly dark and full of those wonderful minerals.  Cassis and black cherry join with a vanilla spice component.  There's a lot of wine here for $20.



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Monday, May 2, 2011

A LOOK AT PASO ROBLES: ANCIENT PEAKS WINERY


Ancient Peaks Winery

A trip to Paso Robles, California promised a high level of exposure to people who live and breathe wine.  Before my destination arrived, I took the Santa Margarita exit from US Highway 101 and found myself immersed inAncient Peaks Winery.

The Vineyard Tour

It wasn't just a tasting room visit, either.  I hopped up into Karl Wittstrom's huge pickup truck and headed for the vineyard, stopping just up the road for a bag of sandwiches to bring along.  That's how they do the tour at Ancient Peaks.  They get you out of the cozy tasting room and take you where the wine business really happens.

Ancient Peaks is owned as a partnership by three winegrowing families.  Karl Wittstrom is one third of that partnership.  A towering rancher who knows the vineyards like he knows low gear in that pickup, Wittstrom is a fountain of knowledge about the grapes, the vines, the dirt, the rocks, the mountains, the flora and fauna, the bugs - he knows about everything you can see from any point in his vineyard, and that's a lot.  I didn't ask, but I'm sure he could identify every grain of dirt on his dusty floorboard mats.

Karl WittstromThe thing is, you don't have to ask.  Karl Wittstrom has all this information ready to spill forth anytime someone looks interested, which I suppose I did.

His urge to share is so great and his energy so boundless he's the natural choice to guide the tour.  At one point he stopped the truck and had me get out to look at a compost station.  He turned the mulch with a shovel and stuck his hand in to grab some, so I could see the worms.  With boyish enthusiasm he motioned with his head back to the pickup, where my wife was chatting with our companion on the tour.  With a complete lack of irony, he asked, "D'ya think she wants to see the worms?"  I offered that she could probably skip this lesson, and he continued undaunted, poking the compost with the shovel and explaining how the worms figure into the winegrowing process.

I knew before the tour that there was a lot I didn't know about growing grapes.  During the tour, it became increasingly apparent just how much I didn't know.

The People of Ancient Peaks

Wittstrom owns his own family vineyard as well as the partnership vineyards with Ancient Peaks.  Doug Filliponi - a longtime local winegrower - oversees all vineyard operations for the winery and Rob Rossi - Ancient Peaks' planning and development guy - is connected in the business side of things.

Mike Sinor - Director of Winemaking - has15 years Central Coast winemaking experience.  2006 was his first full vintage at Ancient Peaks.  Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins is the winery's VP of sales and marketing.  She's a fifth-generation Paso Robles native.

Growing Grapes

All fruit used by Ancient Peaks comes from their sustainable estate vineyards - SIP certified (Sustainability In Practice) - which allows them to "express the personality of the vineyard."
The different varieties of grapes are allowed to ripen at their own pace.

Vineyard pests are controlled naturally, with a program utilizing boxes as habitats for bats, bluebirds, owls and other predatory birds.  No oak trees were removed during the planting of Margarita Vineyard, and wetlands requirements were exceeded.

Margarita Vineyard - sustainably farmed - is the southernmost vineyard in the Paso Robles appellation.  It's surrounded by the Santa Lucia mountain range which are the ancient peaks from which the name was taken.  It is the only vineyard in the area, and its location in the Santa Margarita Ranch is where grapes were first planted by Franciscan missionaries in 1780.

Oyster shell fossils at Margarita VineyardThe vineyard features five distinct soil types: ancient sea bed, sedimentary, shale, volcanic and granitic.  The folks at Ancient Peaks feel these different soil types bring added dimension and complexity to their wines.  Wittstrom delighted in showing off the ancient oyster shells which are imbedded in outcroppings and even scattered about the hillsides of the vineyard.

Wittstrom concluded the tour by taking us through the rest of the historic Santa Margarita Ranch property dotted with old barns, old things in storage and even an old train built by Walt Disney in 1955.  There's history everywhere you look.  The train still functions, and they crank it up now and then for special events.

The Wines

Back in the cozy confines of the Ancient Peaks tasting room, we were poured through the wine list.  The Ancient Peaks wines are exceptional, each one of them.  Most of their wines are in the $14 to $17 price range, with the exception of the Malbec and the Petit Verdot, which sell for $35.

Interior of old barn at Santa Margarita RanchSauvignon Blanc 2010 - Grapes from the cool-climate Margarita Vineyard are augmented by a bit of fruit from San Juan Vineyard, in the eastern portion of the Paso Robles AVA.  Grass and minerals dominate the expressive nose and the steel-fermented wine is crisp and refreshing with a very nice acidity.

Rosé 2010 - Great floral and cherry notes highlight this stainless steel pink made of Pinot Noir from Margarita Vineyard.

Blanco 2010 - Ancient Peaks shows off three of Margarita Vineyard's five soil types in this one.
The Pinot Gris comes from ancient sea bed, the Chardonnay from granitic soil and the Sauvignon Blanc from a sedimentary block.  The PG comes on stronger than the Chardonnay, and there's a nice touch of Sauvignon Blanc; minerals galore.

Zinfandel 2008 - Lavendar notes on the nose and a hint of chocolate on the palate make for a delicious experience.  The Zin is joined by a splash of Syrah.

Merlot 2009 - This is the variety upon which the brand was founded.  Superb minerals play off a cherry/blackberry theme.  A bit of help from the Cabs, Sauvignon and Franc.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 - Very smooth, and very complex, this Cab has 8% Petit Verdot and 8% Malbec.  Cassis and graphite come forward.

Malbec 2008 - One of my favorites here, this wine features a fantastic nose showing traces of violets and chocolate.  8% Syrah.

Petit Verdot 2008 - This 100% varietal wine utilizes grapes from Margarita Vineyard and the warmer climate Wittstrom Vineyard northwest of Paso Robles.  It's dark and complicated, with cassis aromas paving the way for a smooth and juicy palate.

Petite Sirah 2008 - The 85% Petite Sirah comes from Karl's personal Wittstrom Vineyard, while 15% is Margarita Vineyard Syrah.  A brambly bouquet leads to a dark palate with firm tannins and a caramel finish.  This wine carries a 15.7% alcohol number.

Oyster Ridge 2007 - Much of the fruit for this beauty comes from the section of Margarita Vineyard known as Oyster Ridge, the ancient sea bed.  Cabernet Sauvignon takes its cues from Petite Sirah, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  The nose is big, fruity and floral while the palate shows plenty of minerals.  One taste brings the sight of all those oyster fossils into clear focus.

Friday, October 29, 2010

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY GETS DISCOVERED


Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast

Sunset's recent SAVOR the Central Coast event brought over 7,200 food and wine lovers to Santa Margarita, California and put two million dollars into the San Luis Obispo County economy.  These figures have been released by Cal Poly finance professor Kenneth Riener, in conjunction with independent research firm Productive Impact.

San Luis Obispo County Visitors and Conference Bureau Executive Director John Summer is already looking forward to the 2011 event, and so is Sunset magazine.  President of the Sunset Publishing Corporation, Barbara Newton, also confirms that SAVOR is set to become a highly anticipated annual event.  “For 2011, we are fully on-board, and our intention is to continue to do it.”

Southern California provided most of the non-local attendance, but San Luis Obispo County had visitors from as far away as Waco, Texas and London, England for the weekend food and wine event.