Sunday, April 02, 2006

Paso Robles...West Side Story

Okay, to be fair, I spent my time in the west side of Paso Robles, the uppity side; from what I understand, they're trying to break away into their own appellation. As you can see from this loverly picture, it's bee-yotiful country, disected by windy roads, dotted through with orchards, farms and (my favorite) spotty moo-cows.

You know, I'm a little sheepish about even posting a "roundup", because there were several places with stellar recommendations I missed in lieu of checking out Hearst Castle. I apologize profusely. Semi-profusely, anyway. But here's a few wines I managed to taste that were worthy of C&D stamp 0' approval:

Is Tablas Creek too pricey? Maybe, I dunno, it depends on your value system. Pros: they are well made, ageworthy, and beautifully structured in the traditional French style. Cons: I suppose you could get a lot more for your money if you bought an actual French Rhone. Maybe. Whatever. They're damn good. Decide for yourself.

I tried three vintages of the Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc: 2002, 2003, and '04. They're all slightly different blends; but mostly Roussane with varying degrees of Picpoul and Grenache Blanc. I liked the '03 the best. It's an ageworthy blend with great lean treefruit, almonds, florals and minerals, all well focused with a long mineral finish. Yummers.

The 2003 Cotes de Tablas Red, mostly Grenache with Syrah, Mourvedre and a whiff of Counoise made me very happy. Forward spicy strawberry Grenache fruit with great minerality; a Rhone style juice that a body just don't normally find this side of the pond. Nice.

Fond of a good brooding Mourvedre? You likey this one: 2003 Mourvedre, with dark wildberries, leather and spice, great structure, and good long length.

Awright, enough with the idol worship of Tablas Creek. Go throw down the money for one and see if you think they're worth it.

I was a little rough, maybe, on Carmody McKnight? I'm a Southern gal, see, and anything approaching criticsm makes me squeamish. I wish to be fair and say that their 2002 'Cadenza' Blend (half Cab, half Merlot with a touch of Cab Franc) was right decent. Really good structure to hold up a lot of dark, extracted fruit, and a nice tannin grip to it signaled to me that it could go a few years.

For an Italian wine buff like myself, Caparone was a great stop. Unfined and unfiltered for the people, the wines are lean and made for the table, just like I like 'em. My favorites were the rich, savory, leathery 2002 Aglianico and the spicy, well balanced 2002 Sangiovese. Molto buono!

I really enjoyed what I tasted on the whole, and wish I'd had the time to taste some of the others I'd heard about. But a girl's gotta make decisions.

I'm in Monterey now, home of a stellar Aquarium and a totally tourist-trappalicious Cannery Row. Next post: I chatted with Annette Hoff, winemaker for Cima Collina. Keep on checkin' in...I'm watching you people. I know if you've been unfaithful.



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