The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2016

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january-february 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  75 Robles and Monterey with brands like San Simeon, Maddalena and Opaque— while Stella Rosa will continue to grow as well. All this growth is "helping us to reinvest into our company's future generations," he says. "Most recently, our family has focused on the Paso Robles region," explains Riboli. "We've planted two estate vineyards within the El Pomar AVA. We also own a beautiful tasting room and are building a modern winery facility." Since 2003, Riboli and his co-winemaker, Arnaud Debons, had been on the hunt for the right vineyard sites in Paso Robles, and eventually found them. The family purchased land and planted 188 acres in the El Pomar district; the name means "orchard" in Spanish, a refer- ence to the history of apple growing in the area. This Paso Robles sub-AVA lies near the city of Templeton, CA, so cooler marine air that flows in from the Templeton Gap heavily influences the local climate. With lots of calcare- ous soils and plentiful clean water, these areas have been designated mostly for red wine production: Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Primitivo, Mourvèdre and Malbec, with some Viognier. The two vineyards—Stefano Vineyard and Maddalena Vineyard—are named for Riboli's grandfather and grandmother, respectively. "We chose steep hillsides with tight spacing, and see a lot of diversity from the soils themselves," says Riboli of the vineyards. "For example, blending Cabernet Sauvignon from Maddalena and Stefano Vineyards will create complexity. The Linne-Calodo soils at Maddalena are more marine-influenced, so I hope to see some mineral notes in that wine. The Arbuckle- Positas soils at Stefano are more volcanic, and I'll look for more ripe red fruit notes from the red-colored soils." "And we have a great mix of varietals," Riboli adds, "but we aren't going exclusively estate—at least not yet." The family broke ground on a new Paso Robles winery in the summer of 2015 near their current tasting room on Highway 46 East. The new winery will be up and running for the 2016 harvest. It's a "modern facility, focused on the practical—we can vinify all our lots separately. We'll move produc- tion of San Simeon, Maddalena and Opaque to this facility, and others will follow," says Riboli. And beyond Paso, the family also farms estate vineyards in Northern Monterey County—Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Riesling. "Northern Monterey County is ideal for these cool-climate varietals," says Riboli, "which provides a stark contrast to Paso Robles. The county is also highly influenced by fog and wind from the Monterey Bay." Their Sarmento Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, is located on River Road north of Pisoni, Paraiso and Hahn, and just south of Talbott. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines are planted on clay-loam hillsides along the Santa Lucia Range. Additional plantings extend to the Arroyo Seco AVA with the Loma Vista and El Camino Real Vineyards and the Rancho Soledad Vineyard situated in the northeast side of Monterey County near the city of Soledad. TASTING REPORT All wines are available in California. For more information on nationwide availability, visit Opaque 2013 Darkness, Paso Robles ($30) Inky dark; plush and juicy with raspberry and blackberry flavors; toasty oak spice and vanilla. Opaque 2013 Zinfandel, Paso Robles ($30) Bright red juicy strawberries and cinnamon spice with firm tannins and cocoa character; hint of toffee or espresso; undercurrent of iron-like minerality. San Simeon 2014 Viognier, Paso Robles ($20) White floral notes, peach and honey- dew melon; ample weight and good minerality; impeccable spice notes; sour candied-fruit finish. San Simeon 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles ($25) Bursting with rose petal aromas and a savory, meaty character; mouth-coating tannins, more floral and dark cherry notes that mingle with juicy blackberry and licorice spice, which marries well with oak and vanilla undertones. San Simeon 2010 Petite Sirah, Paso Robles ($25) Concentrated raspberry fruit with a hint of minty flavor; pronounced tannins; baking spices and a touch of cocoa on finish. Maddalena 2010 Merlot, Paso Robles ($18) Red berry fruit and licorice, good acidity, tea tannins; red licorice notes; earthy and with a finish of tobacco spice. IMAGE COURTESY SAN ANTONIO WINERY Stefano Riboli planting the first vine in the Stefano Vineyard in 2013.

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