Paso Robles AVA
This was once an area predominantly known for growing Zinfandel with few wineries and not a well known area on the wine map. This has changed dramatically in the last twenty years with hundreds of new wineries. The town of Paso Robles benefits from the commerce with a range of organic restaurants, artisan wineries and my favourite hangout, the excellent Spearhead coffee company. An advantage of the area for viticulture is the considerable diurnal temperature variation which prolongs the growing season and helps the grapes develop physiological ripeness. Paso Robles AVA is 20 miles by 20 miles with areas as close as six miles or as far as forty from the ocean. The altitude also varies from 200 to 2,500 feet. There are now 11 sub AVA’s to reflect some of the differences.
Robert Haas in combination with Perrin family from Chateau de Beaucastel started this venture in 1989. It took many years of quarantine by the US department of agriculture until cuttings taken from the Rhone were released virus free.
They were pioneers of California’s Rhône movement and very much sparked the great interest and growth in this area.
They follow dry farm, biodynamic, organic methods.
Initially around 100 Acres the Estate is now 280 acres with a sheep and alpaca farm.
They Searched for 4 years for the best site to plant the vines
This area in Paso Robles was chosen for the Mediterranean climate and limestone chalky soils similar to the Rhone. The particular soils help in many ways including retaining water and the alkalinity of the soils allowing the grapes to express the terroir. Seven varietals were initially brought in –
Grenache Blanc, Roussane, picpoul, Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre &Counoise
Tablas Creek Patelin De Tablas Blanc 2017
Grenache Blanc,Viognier, Marsanne, Roussane, Clairette Blanche
Classic Rhône white varietal. Marked by its texture smooth mouthfeel no overt aromas in the nose but lovely balanced finish
Tablas Creek Picpoul Blanc 2017
Lipstinger! Zingy acidity and freshness. Calling out for a San Fran Seafood Cioppone
Tablas Creek Marsanne 2017 100% hints of tangerine lavender and aniseed lovely mouthfeel with good acidity
Tablas Creek Côtés De Tablas Blanc 2017
Viognier 44 Marsanne 24 Grenache Blanc 20 Roussane 12
Lemon hint floral mineral bright acids full bodied textural and layered
Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Blanc 2015
Roussane 55 Grenache Blanc 28 picpoul Blanc 17
Flagship Tablas Creek white. Lovely smooth satiny texture savoury layers richly layered fat wine lanolin concentration.Certainly comparably to Chateau du pape Chateau de Beaucastel
Tablas Creek Patelin De Tablas Rose 2017
Grenache Noir 64 Mourvèdre 28 Syrah 5 counoise 2
Estate vineyard and 7 top Paso Robles Vineyards good crisp Rose
Tablas Creek Grenache 2016 100%
Pale colour red fruits restrained style with good finish
Tablas Creek Mourvèdre 2016 100%
Light red and blue fruits,some earthiness
Tablas Creek Esprit De Tablas 2015
Flagship red Mourvèdre 49 Grenache Noir. 25 Syrah 21 counoise 5
Elegant, violets on the nose, blueberries, fresh concentrated long finish
Needs some ageing.
Tablas Creek Vin De Paille ‘Sacrerouge’ 2014 100% Mourvèdre
Treacle figs coffee chocolate unctuous 225g/l rich concentrated length ++
A truly delicious Vin Santo style
Law Estate Wines
We cycled from Paso Robles along Peachy Canyon road and reached elevations of their Vineyards between 1600 to 1900 feet. Cycling gave us the best sense of the geology as pieces of calcareous limestone rock were scattered on the sides of the roads.
This is a new no expense spared winery and tasting room which boasts panoramic views of the area.
They pride themselves on low intervention and have a spotless state of the art winery including gravity fed concrete fermenters. They have a multinational wine making team to bring the potential into reality.
The wines are small production Rhone and Priorat style, powerful and concentrated and certainly have ageability and are showing their sense of place.
We were kindly Hosted by General Manager Oliver Esparham
Most of the wines are already allocated to their wine club members which we found to be common practice in general in California.
Law Estate Rose 2017
GSM and Carignan blend
Lovely acidity and balance strawberries and watermelon nose
Law Estate Beguiling 2015
Grenache 85% Shiraz 15%
Good depth richness and concentration hints of black pepper and blueberries
Law Estate Audacious 2015
Interesting blend of Grenache Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon and petit Syrah
Powerful wine Very good core of black fruit with baking spice and chocolate on the finish
Law Estate Beyond Category 2015
Tempranillo Carignan Mourvèdre Grenache
Another very interesting blend full of blue fruits with lovely spicy, tobacco and lavender notes
Seriously good wines which will age well
L’Aventure winery Willow Creek AVA
Set up by Frenchman Stephan and Beatrice Asseo founded in 1998 producing Bordeaux and Rhône Blends. South West of Paso Robles 127 acres
Beautiful setting with a new winery and tasting room, solar powered sustainable agriculture low yield.
We were looked after by the engaging Leanne and later fortuitously met Beatrice in her boutique shop in Paso Robles and we shared a nicely chilled bottle of her Estate Rose to celebrate Friday evening.
Estate Rose 2017
GSM and petit Verdot 100% tank ferment
Lovely crisp delicate and refreshing subtle red fruits
Syrah 50 Cabernet 30 petit Verdot 20
14 months barrel 60 new French oak
Deep ruby rich concentrated blackberry touch of violets savoury textured
Delicious though has a long way to go. A baby.
Cote à Cote 2016
Grenache 55 Mourvèdre 25 Syrah 20
Concrete tank amphora and oak barrel
Loads of ripe fruit full bodied lots of ripe tannins
Phenomenal potential again needs tucking away for 10 years if you could keep your hands off it
Estate Cuvee 2016
Syrah 52 Cabernet Sauvignon 32 petit Verdot 16 100% new French oak 15 months in barrel. Full bodied concentrated deep colour great structure cassis cedar graphite
Stephan’s wines are very much my style.
Rich concentrated well balanced big wines with great ageing potential. Some of my favourite in California and I highly recommend arranging to visit if you’re in the area.
There are now hundreds of wineries in Paso Robles AVA and it’s hard to choose where to visit.
Other notable tastings and visits for us were-
Ranchero cellars – highly talented winemaker Amy doing some terrific things with Carignan
Venteux boutique winery with a lovely selection of wines making only a few hundred cases each dry farmed estate.
Well worth a visit for the panoramic mountain top views and immaculate grounds food and wine pairings available
Santa Margarita AVA
The southern most AVA in Paso Robles.
Santa Margarita AVA with fve different soil types, one of Paso’s coolest regions due to marine influence of the ocean.
Kristin marketing director of ancient peaks gave us a wonderful tour of Santa Margarita ranch. They have 14,000 acres mostly a cattle ranch one of the oldest in California. First planted with vines in 1780 by Franciscan missionaries. In 2005 Ancient Peaks winery established. A wide array of grape varieties now grown.
Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Closer to the aromatic Style than we’ve had so far lovely touches of white flower jasmine and citrus
Ancient Peaks 2017 Chardonnay
Guava good acidity
Ancient Peaks 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
Good core of fruits mainly black and plum
Ancient Peaks 2016 Merlot
Rounded fruit hint of spice alcohol a little prominent
Ancient Peaks 2016 Zinfandel
Black cherry and fruit some fig raisin and dry fruit
Ancient Peaks 2016 Renegade
Dark ruby pepper cherry plum
Ancient Peaks 2014 Oyster Ridge
More rich and concentrated
Vanilla chocolate spice good texture and good tannins likely to age a few more years
Our visit to Paso Robles was memorable. We were impressed by the wide variety of wines, terrain and climactic conditions. The locals warmly welcomed us. The town has everything you need to make it an ideal base. I would love to return for one of the special festival weekends.
Aaron’s top wines of the central coast tour-
M5 Margerum red/Ridge Montebello Chardonnay/Law Estate Audacious 2015
Nick’s top wines
Ancient Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2017/L’aventure Grenache Rose/Tablas Creek Late Harvest Mourvèdre
Adam’s top wines
Au Bon Climat Pinot Runway/M5 Margerum white/L’Aventure Cote a Cote 2016