The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2014

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PHOTO: JEREMY BALL ther certified nor rigid about the practice. "Our customer is a niche animal," says Sales and Marketing Director Michael Young. Their estate Cab typically has 9% Petit Verdot added, resulting in assertive, complex and resolved polyphenols. Asseo's 7,0000 cases include Syrah and Cab blends. "The attack of the wine is always soft, the palate rich and long and textured like silk," the winemaker says. His wines have helped propel Paso Robles as a viable Cabernet producer and are distributed in 30 states, Canada, Europe and Asia. SOFT AND SWEET "There's a conception about domestic port wines that they are cheap, sweet wines for an unsophisticated palate," Steve Glossner of PasoPort says. But what if the wines are made using premium grapes and brandy? "Single-vineyard Zinfandels are popular, but no one's doing single-vineyard Zinfandel ports." Until now. Glossner's dry farmed West Side fruit ages three to four years in barrel, then two years in bottle—and clearly the idea of sweet wines in big red country is proving successful. Producing tawny, traditional and California ports, Glossner runs his own still to make fortifications for the wines, but also look for eaux-de-vie and brandy-based liqueurs in the near future. THE TASTING PANEL tasted through a four year vertical (2006–2009) of PasoPort Violeta, a traditional blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cão and Souzão, which showed a uniformity of production, fruit maturity and ageability. The zinc-topped horseshoe bar at Hotel Cheval's Pony Bar. LINGERING LONGER Sleep well and eat healthfully at Summerwood. PHOTO: ROB BROWN The bed and breakfast concept is surpassed at Summerwood Inn. The out-of-the-way location is in close proximity to wineries, but guests are nestled away from "town" and it feels like a real get-away. The open-air demo kitchen, outdoor dining area and luxurious bedrooms are superbly appointed while the farm-to-table, chooseyour-own breakfast menu delivers above expectations. PHOTO: ROB BROWN PHOTO: JEREMY BALL Artisan has long been considered the best restaurant in Paso Robles—the one that set the bar for a higher standard of food. Brothers Michael and Chris Kobayashi opened in 2006 to rave reviews and a public desperate for anything resembling wine country cuisine. Eighty percent of their wines are from the Paso Robles area, with more than 20 by the glass, and eight taps are stocked with seasonal beers and Artisan Restaurant. microbrews. A fusion of Asian and contemporary locally sourced ingredients like local abalone, calamari from Monterey and pasture-raised chicken from local cheesemaker Rinconada Dairy, the cuisine coordinates seamlessly with the wines. Similarly, Hotel Cheval and its Pony Bar are the gold standard for lodging, with attentive concierge and comfortable rooms consistent with expected wine country comfort, with an understated European refinement. Offering a portfolio of 12 wines by the glass (five whites, five reds, a rosé and a sparkler) over 50 labels and small plates of food, The Pony Bar, just off downtown's Norman Rockwell–looking central square, offers diversity that other tasting rooms can't match. But it's not just the zinc-topped horseshoe bar, nor the intimate interior that draws both locals and tourists; it's also the outdoor patio canopied by mature oaks and its proximity to Paso Robles' downtown core that causes guests to linger here. The open-air demo kitchen at Summerwood. january 2014  /  the tasting panel  /  83 TP0114_66-108.indd 83 12/19/13 9:47 PM

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