Thursday, May 13, 2010

Paso Robles Wine Country - the fastest growing wine region in California

Tucked along the coast of California about midway between the Bay Area and Los Angeles is a fine wine region called Paso Robles. This dynamic region has seen explosive growth over the past decade, expanding from 35 to 180 bonded wineries, ranging from major national brands to small boutique wineries.

Gary Eberle first planted Syrah in the mid 1970’s in Paso Robles. In 1989, the Perrin family (of the Rhone Valley’s Chateau de Beaucastel) and American importer Robert Haas established the first major international joint venture, Tablas Creek Vineyards. Tablas Creek imported exclusive vine stock from the Rhone Valley and made these clones available to other growers in the area. Since 1989, Paso Robles has seen an explosion in the plantings of Rhone varietals, from fewer than 100 acres in 1994 to more than 2,200 acres in 2006.

Some features that make this region unique are the huge diurnal swings in temperatures, up to 40-50 degrees in a day during, a longer growing season than most other California appellations, and more calcareous soils than any other California AVA.

A fine example of Paso Robles white wines is the Anglim 2007 Roussanne. This is a refreshing wine with a touch of honey aroma and ripe and juicy fruit flavors of apple, grilled pineapple and a hint of spicy cloves and a mineral note on the finish. It is very balanced with mouth-pleasing acidity.

The wine was fermented cold, 65% in predominantly neutral French oak barrels, 35% in stainless steel. It was allowed to age for 18 months on the lees (“sur lies”) with frequent stirring for 7 months. Winemaker Steve Anglim made 224 cases of this wine and the price is approximately $26.
Steve Anglim’s philosophy is to make balanced wines instead of the overripe “fruit bombs” popular on the market today. Roussanne is a Rhone varietal, one of many that grow well in the soils and climates of the Paso Robles AVA.
The Niner Wine Estates 2007 Cabernet Franc from the estate Bootjack Ranch vineyards has a beautiful dark crimson color and aromas and flavors of raspberry, blueberry, dried flowers, nutmeg and pepper. It is rich and velvety-textured. The tannins are soft but firm and in balance with just the right amount of acidity.

Bootjack Ranch is part of Niner Wine Estates, covering 125 acres and planted with the hearty red varietals for which Paso Robles is famous such as Syrah, Merlot, Barbera, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. There were 234 cases produced and the price is approximately $26. The winemaker is Amanda Cramer.

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