The SOMM Journal

February / March 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 55 of 116

{ }  55 Paso Robles Willow Creek District: "Phenomenal Grapes" Willow Creek is located south of the Adelaida District, and while they are similar in their elevation range and largely calcareous soil profile, this region is cooler due to a greater marine influence. This results in longer hang-time with harvests typically in mid-to-late October and early November depending on the elevation and vineyard aspect. Owner and winemaker Guillaume Fabre of Clos Solène prefers "a slightly leaner wine" and was drawn to the Willow Creek area due to its cooler climate and soil. Fabre said, "I was really attracted to it because it reminded me of my Languedoc roots," referring to the region's climate. Christian Tietje, winemaker for Rotta Winery, describes the area as an old marine bed with a considerable amount of "bone rock." The resulting Cabernets he describes as having "extreme concentration because of very thin soils, really interesting substrates and lots of inter - esting rock mixed in, which all make for phenomenal grapes." Nearly every vintner in every sub-AVA touched on the extraordinary phenolics found in Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon. Phenolics can tell you the size of the wine, the stability of the color pigments, how much oak the wine can handle and more. As Daou put it, "When you take the combination of great soils, like the ones in France, and great climate, like we have in Paso Robles, you have the combination that is something not found anywhere else in the world. Which is why we end up having some of the highest phenolics in the world ever recorded for grapes." Adelaida District: "Superb Concentration" The Adelaida District is perhaps one of the best- known sub-AVAs from a consumer standpoint. However, it's also one of the most diverse, covering a considerable area from east to west, with elevations ranging from 900 to 2,200 feet and a wide range of soil profiles, though predominantly calcareous. Harvest dates varied among producers depending on altitude. Daou, whose vineyards are situated as high as 2,000 feet in elevation, along with David Parrish, grower and winemaker of Parrish Family Vineyard, tend to harvest in mid-to- late September due to an earlier bud-break and warmer nights. While other producers, including Brecon Estate and J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, noted a longer hang-time with harvest dates in mid-to-late October and early November. Yet there was a consistent response in regard to tannin structure. Daou noted, "It's an area that gets a lot of rain, so a lot of the vineyards here are dry-farmed. When you dry-farm Cab, it really gives you that superb concentration and the small berries that add the powerful tannin structure you need to age Cabernet." Parrish, who owns vineyards in the Adelaida, El Pomar and Creston Districts, echoed Daou, stating, "I would say on a good vintage Adelaida is going to have more tan - nins; it's going to be a bigger wine and probably a little less fruit-forward." El Pomar District: "Sweet Spot" "We feel the El Pomar District is a sweet spot between the cooler climate and warmer climate of Paso Robles," said Matt Merrill, co-owner and winemaker for Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery, "During a hot year, we are still a little cooler than most of Paso Robles, and in a cool year we're still a little warmer." This is primarily due to the influence of the Templeton Gap, which allows for cooler afternoon breezes. For that reason, Cabernet Sauvignon also sees a longer hang-time in El Pomar and harvest typically begins in mid-to-late October. Riboli Family Wine Estates co-owner and winemaker Anthony Riboli sourced fruit from vineyards in El Pomar for years before planting/invest - ing in three estate properties in the region. Riboli was drawn to the area because of its unique soils, steep hillsides and ample amounts of quality water. "We see more color in El Pomar, and I like the flavor profile. I like to see more of the black fruit versus the red fruit character, and I think some of that is because it's cooler," said Riboli. Parrish also owns a vineyard in El Pomar, next-door to one of Riboli's properties. It's what Parrish likes to call "Middle Earth" due to its "West Side influence and East Side influence." Parrish describes the Cabernets from this site as having "big tannins but more fruit forward." The El Pomar District has unique soils, steep hillsides and ample amounts of quality water.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The SOMM Journal - February / March 2017