|Wines from Tablas Creek (left) and Cypher Wineries (right)|
Capital Cooking Contributor
When most people think of California wine country, they usually think of Napa and Sonoma. It isn't often that Paso Robles come to mind, but maybe next time you're looking for a fresh California bottle, it should.
Paso Robles is an area smack dab in between Los Angeles and San Francisco, about a three-and-a-half hour drive from each city. With 26,000 acres and over 200 wineries that produce over 40 grape varietals, it's nothing to pass over. For French wine lovers to Italian, Spanish and a classic California zin, it can all be found in Paso Robles.
It's quintessentially Californian to take something formal and make a casual, unpretentious version out of it, but by no means does it point to an inferior product. Recently, D.C. was able to taste what the area had to offer during the Paso Robles tasting held at the Palomar Hotel.
Two wineries, Tablas Creek Vineyard and Cypher Winery, presented some of their wines to guests in an hour-long seminar. Tablas Creek is a 120-acre organic estate vineyard, a pioneer in growing Rhône varietals in Paso. Cypher's Freakshow wines are unconventional, fun, and according to the winemaker, "extreme."
No matter the combination of grape or who the winemaker is, California wines are fresh, fruity, and often refreshing. Here are some tasting notes from the wines guests had at the seminar:
Tablas Creek Vineyard - winemaker Tommy Oldre
2010 Côtes de Tablas Blanc: 54% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blac, 8% Marsanne, 8% Roussanne
This organic white is sweet with a dry finish. Pressed and fermented in stainless steel, the wine retains a "kissed by the California sunshine" kind of freshness. A little mint with melon and stone fruit tasting, this crisp wine goes great with salads and other light seafoods. It's perfect for a sunny, summer day.
2009 Esprit de Beaucastel: 40% Mourvedre, 28% Syrah, 27% Grenache, 5% Counoise
This wine is the Tablas' flagship red. Those with an affinity for dark berry notes will enjoy this wine. Blackberry, raspberry and currants are highlighted here. A gorgeous dark cranberry color, a gentle sweetness gives way to minerality and a tannic nature. Try it at dinner with duck or lamb and it's sure to be a winner.
Cypher Winery - winemaker Christian Tietje
2009 Anarchy: 37% Zinfandel, 35% Mourvedre, 28% Syrah
This red blend is spicy and fresh. The cranberry and raspberry notes are balanced with white pepper, finishing off with a little vanilla. It's silky texture flows across the tongue. Aged in French, American and Hungarian oak, it's fruity, cleanl, sweet and smooth.
2009 Monarchy: 47% Malbec, 46% Petit Verdot, 7% Tempranillo
This wine is Cypher's version of a bordelaise. It has more muscle and tannins than the Anarchy, but still well balanced. The Monarchy tastes of red and black fruits, with blueberries and a little chocolate note. The oak gives this wine a sweet, earthy finish and would go great with dinner.
Whether or not you're into more traditional wines or have a preference for a certain varietal or style of winemaking, those in Paso Robles are making a name for themselves. So the next time you're in California or shopping for something new and different, take a look at what Paso Robles has to offer. You might find out that you have a new favorite in store.
photographs by Samantha Grieder