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DECEMBER 2009: The Best of Paso Robles Wine Wrap-Up

aftermath.jpgSo...what have I gleaned from our 7 visits to PR in the last year? Well, that it's impossible to attempt to keep up with the growing number of wineries and still visit all your favorites. We visited 15 new tasting rooms and revisited about 7 that I hadn't been to in over 2 years, bringing my overall total to 70 wineries since I first started coming to the region. Believe it or not. Considering that we usually hit our favorite 5-6 each time, that doesn't give us much wiggle room. The prices for the most part have remained steady, despite the growing number of articles touting the region. Most whites are still in the $15-$25 range with Viognier and Rhone blends being the most available. There's been a spike of single bottlings of Albarino, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc, which seem to do very well here. I tried as many as I could and have been impressed with the outcome, buying more of them this year than my usual fav Viognier. Most reinforced to me how interesting and delicious white wine can be...if someone takes the time to craft one with care.

The price range for reds is a bit broader, $20-$50+, but most bottles are still in the $25-$40 area, delivering great QPR. The region is getting the most positive press for their Rhone wines (Syrah & Grenache) with good reason. Most wineries currently make a Syrah, all drinkable...some obviously better than others. It's a happy grape here. Grenache comes in second with the styles varying wildly from producer to producer in a range from Pinot light to Syrah dark. It might be my new favorite grape and may someday soon push Syrah out of the top spot in my heart. Almost everyone still makes a Zinfandel, but it's sort of falling out of favor as the heat often causes many versions to be too alcoholic and unbalanced. The trend in the 07 vintage (current releases) was to pull back a bit on the full-throttle nature of this wine, which I was happy to see...and caused me to purchase a few bottles, something I haven't done in years. The grapes to watch are Tempranillo and Mourvedre. There were only a handful of 100% Mourvedre wines released in 2005 and no Tempranillos that I know of. There will be around 10 Mourvedres from the 2007 vintage and at least a handful of Tempranillos. These are the grapes that could really put Paso on the map with a distinct regional identity. At least I hope so.

Following is a list of my favorite wines found on our travels this past year. Most I purchased. Some I loved, but couldn't quite afford. This is only a "Best Of" the wines I've tasted. I couldn't get to everyone...though I did my best. Most are currently still available and wines you should seek out. In my opinion anyway.

IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER: (Red Titles link to wine reviews)

ALTA COLINA
2007 Ann's Block Petite Sirah – $48
2007 Old 900 Syrah – $48

ANGLIM WINERY
2008 Grenache Blanc, Red Cedar Vineyard – $28
2006 Grenache – $24
2007 Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard – $48
2008 Viognier, Bien Nacido Vineyard – $26

BARREL 27 WINE COMPANY
2008 "High on the Hog" White Rhone Blend – $15
2006 "Right Hand Man" Syrah – $18

CALIZA WINERY
2008 Pink Rosé – $18
2006 Syrah – $45

CASS WINERY
2008 Roussanne – $24
2006 Syrah – $36
2008 Viognier – $28

DARK STAR CELLARS
2006 Grenache – $35
2006 Soft Shoulder – $35

DERBY WINE ESTATES
2007 Pinot Gris, Derbyshire Vineyard – $18
2007 MOSAIC Rosé – $14
2006 MOCAB – $28

DONATI FAMILY VINEYARDS
2007 Pinot Blanc – $20
2006 Sorelle Per Sempre Paicines – $22

DOVER CANYON WINERY
2007 Old Vine Zinfandel, Benito Dusi Ranch – $27

EDWARD SELLERS VINEYARDS
2007 Roussanne – $28
2007 Saboteur – $30
2006 Syrah – $16
2005 Syrah Selectionne – $32

J DUSI
2007 Zinfandel, Dante Dusi Vineyard – $26

L'AVENTURE WINERY
2008 Estate Roussanne – $32
2007 Optimus – $45
2007 Estate Cuvée – $85

MINASSIAN-YOUNG VINEYARDS
2006 Grenache – $22
2006 Tempranillo – $22
2006 1000 Vines Zinfandel – $22
2006 Bailey Vineyard Zinfandel – $22

NADEAU FAMILY VINEYARDS
2007 Roussanne – $21
2006 Petite Sirah – $23
2006 "The Bouncer" Zinfandel – $23

ORTMAN FAMILY VINEYARDS
2007 Sangiovese – $22
2006 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley – $36
2007 Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard – $45

TERRY HOAGE VINEYARDS
2008 "The Gap" Cuvee Blanc – $28
2007 "Skins" Grenache – $38
2007 "The Pick" Cuvee – $38
2007 "The Hedge" Syrah – $45

VILLICANA WINERY
NV Estate Winermaker's Cuvée – $20
2007 Estate Mourvedre – $30

VINES ON THE MARYCREST
2006 Heart of Glass – $22
2006 Round Midnight – $25
2006 My Generation – $25



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