Paso Robles Numerous Wine Varietals
Although we only live 3 hours from Paso Robles California, it took us until 2018 to visit this wine region. We only made stops at about a dozen wineries to sample mostly Rhone and Bordeaux varietals. Although our sampling of the region’s 300+ wineries was very limited and quite selective, we loaded our car with many bottles and made a commitment to return for a more comprehensive visit.
Paso Robles Rhone-Style Blends
Although we enjoyed a number of wines of all styles, we were particularly impressed by a number of Paso Robles red Rhone-style blends from wineries including:
- Epoch Estate’s 2013 Ingenuity;
- Proulx’s 2015 Dimples and Jack Barrett;
- Tablas Creek Vineyard’s 2015 Cotes de Tablas and 2013 Esprit de Tablas;
- Halter Ranch Vineyard’s 2015 CDP; and
- Le Cuvier’s 2014 L’Enfant du Pape.
We also enjoyed some single-varietal Rhone varietals, particularly:
- Peachy Canyon’s 2016 Viognier, 2015 Bailey and 2014 Mustard Springs Vineyard wonderful Syrahs;
- Gluntz Family 2015 Syrah; and
- Lone Madrone’s 2016 Grenache Blanc.
And for an amazingly light, easy-drinking, non-ageable Petite Syrah, try Broken Earth’s 2014 Diablo Negro.
Paso Robles Bordeaux-Style
Among our Bordeaux varietal favorites from our limited number of stops were:
- Peachy Canyon’s 2014 Para Siempre Bordeaux-style blend;
- Daou’s 2015 Reserve Eye of the Falcon Cabernet Sauvignon;
- Le Cuvier’s 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 Malbec; and
- Broken Earth 2013 Reserve Merlot.
Paso Robles Zinfandels
Paso Robles is also very well known for some of its especially big Zinfandels, for which the region’s soils and climate are particularly well suited. Among these, we were especially impressed by:
- Daou’s 2014 Reserve;
- Gluntz Family 2015 Reserve
- Turley Wine Cellars, which is particularly known for its big, unfiltered, and unrefined Zinfandels. We enjoyed a number of their single vineyards and Zinfandel blends. However, we especially liked its 2015 Rattlesnake Ridge and 2015 Cedarman, the latter of which consists of juice from its Rattlesnake Ridge and Dragon vineyards.
Paso Robles Other Varietals
Although Paso Robles wineries are especially known for their Rhone, Bordeaux, and Zinfandel-based grapes, it also grows grapes from a number of other regions. Lone Madrone, a small vineyard, has a particularly prolific winegrower/winemaker whose current line-up includes about two dozen different wines. While most are based on traditional Paso Rhone, Bordeaux and Zinfandel grapes, it also produces Nebbiolos and Tannats. This being said, our favorite of those non-traditional varietals we tasted were:
- Epoch Estate’s 2013 Tempranillo;
- Le Cuvier’s 2014 Malbec; and
- Broken Earth’s 2016 Limited Release Albarino.
We also got a chance to try a few dessert and fortified wines. Of particular note were:
- Gluntz Family’s Tawny Port (1999 to 2016);
- Broken Earth’s Black Moscato; and
- Tobin James 2012 Late Harvest Zinfandel.
Tobin James merits particular mention. Not due to its fine wines, but for its nice selection of very inexpensive, very quaffable wines. Although it grows very few of its own grapes, it produces 80,000-85,000 bottles per year, primarily from Paso grapes. Another distinction is that it sells 80 percent of its wine through its loyal wine club members.
By the time we arrived at the Tobin James tasting room at 10:30 on a Saturday morning, the large, two-bar tasting room was packed, primarily with repeat visitors. Even so, we were promptly and very responsively served. No, we wouldn’t consider them to be fine wines. But a number of them were ready-to-drink, easy-drinking wines that were quite credible—all at amazingly low prices. For example:
- $18, 2014 Chardonnay;
- $25 Petite Syrah;
- $18 Lat Harvest Zinfandel; and especially a
- $18 “Cash Flow” Bordeaux blend.
And remember, since most customers are members, they get 15-20 percent discounts. Overall, they appeared to have quite a business and many happy customers.
Paso Robles Restaurants and Food
All this wine requires food. Le Cuvier has its own chef produce tasty dishes that are to complement specific wines. For each of its wines, we began with a taste of and discussion of the wines and then had a taste of the complimentary food and another sip of wine. Although our roles on the American Institute of Wine & Food (which was created by Julia Child and Robert Mondavi specifically to foster an appreciation for how wine complements food) has long prompted us to think of food and wine as complements, the Le Cuvier experience was particularly enlightening. Wines that were extremely distinctive on their own, took on entirely different, and typically much more mellow characteristics after a taste of the food. Among the most interesting of the pairings were:
- Spiced-Thai noodle soup with a neutrally-oaked chardonnay;
- Chateauneuf du Pape-inspired Rhone blend with a creamy tomato soup;
- A big Syrah with an aged gouda;
- A young Cabernet with chili-sauced beef tenderloin; and
- Malbec, not surprisingly, paired with an empanada with caramelized onions.
Although the Le Cuvier tastings were indeed impressive and inspiring, we needed more sustenance to carry us through a day of tasting. With all of this, however, our meals were amazingly limited.
Jeffrey’s Catering is located within Wolf Run, which is a relatively non-descript winery (at least for us) and a distillery. We shared one very nice take-out sandwich: barbequed pulled chicken with red BBQ sauce and pickled onions on a French roll with cabbage slaw and dill pickle.
This popular downtown Paso restaurant is on a restaurant-lined square. We shared a nice pizza with lamb sausage, goat cheese, and marjoram pizza with a bottle of Marques de Murrietta Rioja Reserva (Too bad our recently tasted Epoch Estate 2013 Tempranillo wasn’t on the restaurant’s wine list.)