The SOMM Journal

February / March 2017

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54 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } FEBRUARY/MARCH 2017 { somm camp preview } It's hard to deny Cabernet Sauvignon's dominance in the wine market. This heat-loving, mid- to late-ripening grape thrives in Bordeaux's well-drained soils and has made itself at home in Paso Robles, on California's Central Coast. The most widely planted red wine variety in California is also the most widely planted grape in Paso Robles, as producers have found the region to exhibit near perfect growing conditions for this beloved red wine. What makes Paso Robles ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon is not only its ability to consistently achieve ripeness (the region is known for its high daytime and cool nighttime temperatures during the growing season), but also the area's unique soil profiles. In the last decade, Paso Robles has commanded the attention of professionals and consumers, wooing them with numerous examples of world-class Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends. "Paso Robles is being disruptive to the world of Cabernet Sauvignon," explains Daniel Daou, proprietor and winemaker at DAOU Vineyards & Winery. Daou is one of the founding members of the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective, a grassroots organiza - tion founded in 2012 that's effectively seeking to work together as a group to produce exceptional "CABs" and elevate their exposure at a global level. In 2014, the Paso Robles AVA (which spans 612,000 acres) was divided into 11 sub-appellations, many of which produce superior-quality Cabernets and Bordeaux-style blends. To better understand the characteristics of each of these sub-appellations, 15 producers from eight of the 11 sub-appellations were inter - viewed with regard to producing Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of them work with fruit from more than one sub-appellation, which allowed for greater insight and comparison. Of course, there are numerous other factors to consider when evaluating the characteristics of a wine, including the hand of the winemaker, farming practices, clones, elevation, etc. However, there was considerable overlap in regard to physiological development, flavor profiles and tannin textures within each sub-AVA. The Willow Creek District AVA looking south. Paso Robles's topography of rolling hills, terraces and complex soil profiles make it difficult to pigeonhole a sub-appellation into a specific category. As Damian Grindley of Brecon Estate puts it, "To do a general brush stroke anywhere in Paso Robles is kind of tough because of those little microclimates." J. Lohr's Director of Winemaking Jeff Meier added to that, stating, "At least in the regions where we are, the soils are highly varied over very short areas," and each soil is going to have different water-holding capacity. Therefore, to make a gener- alization in any region is difficult. VINTNERS EXPLAIN THE SUBTLETIES BEHIND EACH OF THE SUB-AVAS by Michelle Ball / photos by Jeremy Ball The Many Faces of Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux)

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