Monday, July 28, 2008

The Superlative, Super Wines from Paso Robles!

Before I get to some of the outstanding wineries we visited let me thank David and Russ for leaving comments on my first Paso Robles post. Be sure to read them. The picture on the left is the vineyard directly in front of the L'Aventure Winery where Bordeaux expatriate Stephan Asseo does his magic. The impressive, immaculately kept vineyards are a promise of what you can expect when you taste his wines.
Stephan had always wanted to blend Bordeaux varietals with others like Syrah. French appellation regulations prevented him from doing so. The result was that he moved to Paso Robles and the rest is history. His wines are highly rated by the likes of Robert Parker, the Wine Spectator and Decanter and have been extensively written up in many publications, so I won't go into any details here.

Now, if you want to have some fun be sure to visit Zin Alley where Frank and Connie will proudly pour you their remarkable Zinfandel. Only 500 cases a year are produced on their three acre Nerelli Estate. The dry-farmed, head pruned
vines are grown on Linne Calodo soils with hot summer days and cool coastal nights resulting in a
complex Zinfandel. Connie has a great sense humor, as you will discover when you visit them.
Looking for a great Bed & Breakfast place to stay at while visiting Paso Robles? Look no further than the beautiful Venteux Vineyards Bed & Breakfast right on the Venteux Vineyards property.
This 10 acre vineyard is also dry-farmed and the vines are head-trained as well. Scott and Bobbi Stelze are at the helm of this well run vineyard and winery. Located in what is known as the Templeton Gap, which brings the cool coastal breezes to an otherwise hot region. Their wines have become so popular that visitors are limited to 2 bottles of most of their wines. Scott specializes in Syrah, Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. When he is not tending his vineyard or making his beautiful wines he restores old Dodge trucks and is as meticulous about that as he is about his wines.

The next winery, which is actually the first one we visited in Paso Robles, is a must visit before Parker or any other wine critic finds out about them. Run by a couple of very cheerful fellows who are just having fun while making outstanding wines. I think we agreed that the wines of Bella Luna Winery were our favorites of all the wines we tasted during our Paso Robles tour.
Kevin Healy, a Vietnam veteran and Sherman Smoot, a Navy fighter pilot, grew up together in Paso Robles and their lifelong friendship and passion for wine resulted in the establishing of the Bella Luna Winery. This five acre estate specializes in the Italian Barbera and Sangiovese and the Spanish Tempranillo. Of course Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are there as well. Yes, the Zinfandel is called Fighter Pilot Red to honor all aviators who have put themselves in harm's way. All of their wines are simply amazing. Rich and powerful with great extraction. Natural yeasts, no fining or filtering produces wines that are bold and full of character. We all know about the famous Sassicaia wine from Tuscany, but wait these two gents are out to show that their Paso Robles version will be every bit as good if not better.
Scheduled to be released in May of 2009, it will have spent 40 months in new French oak. And of course it will be called Bellicaia. This 2005 vintage super Tuscan style is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Sangiovese. We had the opportunity of tasting it out of the barrel.
It is superlative now. What will it be like when it is released next May? I can only drool but hope to get my hands on some before it flies out of the winery. Yes, Paso Robles and its many fine family run wineries are definitely worth a visit.
As always click on the pictures to get the larger view. On my next blog entry I will share some pictures of interest I took during my visit to California and they are not necessarily wine related.


Nick said...

Hi my friend, I am enjoying your Paso Robles posts very much indeed! I am green with envy - especially as we have another dismal WET British summer over here. The photos look great by the way and the wines look VERY inviting . . .

Cheers, Nick - ps am posting about you tomorrow

Wilf G.K said...

Nick, thank you very much for your comment.The wines were indeed inviting and literally blow you away once you taste them.Sorry to hear about your wet summer. We have had a mixed one. When I was talking to one of the winemakers in the Okanagan Valley the other day he told me they were about two weeks behind last year's vintage.But winemakers are always optimistic, at least the good ones are. Always ready to meet the challenge a difficult vintage brings. Looking forward to your posting.