Monday, August 26, 2019.
We were up early & off to our first stop at Tablas Creek, also located in the Adelaida district. After a very informative & insightful walk through their estate vineyard by General Manager/Managing Partner Jason Haas, we retired to one of the barrel rooms where Jason led us through a comprehensive tasting of what they thought Paso Robles could be. It was very enlightening & I must add to that, Jason is a marvelous, engaging, very articulate speaker/presenter & his presentation was truly eye opening. The tasting consisted of 11 of the Rhone grape varietals they pioneered & grew in the area– WHITE–2018 Picardin; 2018 Clairette, 2018 Picpoul, 2017 Grenache Blanc, 2018 Viognier, 2017 Marsanne, 2015 Roussanne; RED— 2015 Terret Noir, 2017 Counoise, 2017 Grenache, 2017 Mourvedre & 2017 Syrah, PLUS FIVE of their blends–2018 Patelin de Tablas Blanc (Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne & Clairette Blanc), 2016 Espirit de Tablas Blanc (Roussanne, Grenache Blanc), 2017 Patelin de Tablas Rouge (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre & Counoise); 2016 Espirit de Tablas Rouge ( (Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah & Counoise) & the 2002 Espirit de Beaucstel Rouge (Mourvedre, Syrah, Grenache & Counosie), just to show us what can happen with some bottle age. What a truly memorable experience! Much Mahalo.
Off we were then whisked to Epoch‘s Paderewski Vineyard & a vineyard walk with winemaker Jordan Fiorentini. Standing at the top, it truly was a breathtaking, panoramic view of the stark, whitish/gray limestone/siliceous undulating hills they call home. We ended up in their Block 13 (nicknamed Block B), the home turf of one of their single parcel designated wines. There, we sampled the 2015 Sensibility (96% Grenache & 4% Syrah)–534 case production–95pts-Jeb Dunnuck & 96pts by Vinous & The Wine Advocate………& their 2015 Block B (100% Syrah)–315 case production–96pts by Vinous, 97pts by Wine Advocate & 98pts by Jeb Dunnuck. Yup, we got to taste & experience a sense of place in the vineyard, tasting two wines born out of its vines.
Continuing with our very brisk pace in an effort to see & experience all that we could, off we went to Linne Calodo, in the Willow Creek AVA. After a daunting walk up the center hillside of the estate Trevi Ranch, we were treated to taste a whole slew of their wines with color commentary from winemaker/owner Matt Trevisan–2018 Pale Flowers Rosé (100% Grenache); 2018 Contrarian (Grenache Blanc, Picpoul & Viognier); 2017 Sticks & Stones (Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre); 2016 Overthinker (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre & Carignan); 2016 Perfectionist (Syrah, Mourvedre & Grenache); 2017 Rising Tides (Grenache, Mourvedre & Syrah); 2017 Problem Child (Zinfandel, Syrah, Graciano & Carignan); 2017 Outsider (Zinfandel, Syrah, Mourvedre, Graciano) & 2017 Cherry Red (Zinfandel, Graciano, Syrah, Carignan). It really was quite evident these were each TOP Shelf wine. WOW!
After a wonderful lunch at Linne Calodo (thanks Matt & Maureen), we then boarded the vans & headed out to Cass Vineyard in the Geneseo District on the east side of Highway 101. It was a Paso Robles winegrowing area I had visited only once prior. I watched the temperature gauge on the van dashboard, as we drove, rise from 97 degrees in the Willow Creek district to 103 by the time we hit the town of Paso Robles to 108 a few miles from Cass Vineyards, back down to 101 degrees when we arrived there. Keep in mind, this is at 2:00pm in the afternoon. While it may have read 101 degrees, when we stepped out of the van, it was not blazingly hot. There was in fact a cooling breeze that mitigated the heat somewhat. It also helped that we were strategically all standing under a large tree & its shade during our talk & tasting with Steve Cass. The 2 wines we tasted were the 2018 Cass Rosé (Mourvedre & Grenache) & their 2017 Cass Grenache. One could readily sense the genuine passion Steve had for the region AND especially for his vineyard. As my wife duly noted while we drove off, “all of these Paso Robles wine families really try hard at what they do & give it their all“. Thank you Steve & to your team.
After a really brief stop back at the hotel to freshen up some, we again boarded the vans & headed to Epoch Winery up on York Mountain to the south. I have been an avid fan since early on of this winery & its vineyards. I, in fact, went to visit the land as they were clearing it. It also helps greatly that Paso Robles superstar Justin Smith was the founding consultant & one could see things were being set up well thought out. I found it so interesting, for instance, that as I was shown, the slant of limestone/siliceous layers is much more diagonal & therefore is much easier for the vines’ roots to burrow down in search of water & nutrients. We were met at the door & escorted down to the barrel/winemaking cellar, where winemaker Jordan Fiorentini led us through a tasting of THREE vintages of their Epoch white wine (typically a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier & Roussanne). What an incredibly eye opening opportunity. It certainly shed light on what can be in Paso Robles AND from avery different perspective. Thank you VERY much to Jordan & her team.
After that, we were then led to yet another room, where we tasted wines at a “White Rhone Mixer” with other guest winemakers. The wines poured–2018 Adelaida Picpoul Blanc; 2017 Alta Colina Viognier “12 O’Clock High”; 2017 Booker White; 2017 Brecon Conviction (Grenache Blanc & Viognier); 2018 Brecon Viognier; 2018 Caliza “Kissin’ Cousins” (Viognier, Roussanne & Grenache Blanc); 2018 Cass “Mr Blanc” (Roussanne, Marsanne & Viognier); 2017 Cass “Rockin’ One” Blanc (Viognier, Roussanne & Marsanne); 2018 Cass Marsanne; 2018 Cass Roussanne; 2018 Cass Viognier; 2018 Clos Solène Hommage Blanc (Roussanne & Viognier); 2017 Denner “Theresa” (Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Picpoul & Vermentino); 2018 Eberle Viognier “Mill Road Vineyard”; 2018 Eberle Côtes-du-Rôbles Blanc (Grenache Blanc, Roussanne & Viognier); 2018 Epoch White (Grenache Blanc, Viognier & Roussanne); 2018 Jada “88” (Grenache Blanc & Viognier); 2017 Law “Soph” (Roussanne, Marsanne & Clairette Blanc); 2017 Lone Madrone “Oveja” (Picpoul & Grenache Blanc); 2018 Paix sur Terre Clairette Blanc; 2018 Paix sur Terre Picpoul Blanc; 2017 Tablas Creek Côte de Tablas Blanc (Grenache Blanc, Roussanne & Marsanne); 2017 Thacher Viognier; 2016 Villa Creek “Bone White” (Clairette & Fiano); 2018 Vina Robles Viognier “Huerhuero Vineyard”.
Then dinner was a very lovely evening out on the patio of their new building–really good food, a bevy of wines & great conversations. Thank you to all.