The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2015

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1 10  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2015 BORDEAUX-STYLE BLENDS Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery 2010 Suendero, Paso Robles ($54) 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Petit Verdot The Adelaida District— where Vina Robles' Adelaida Springs Ranch is located— epitomizes the dramatically steep, rugged, mountainous viticulture often associated with Paso Robles. Electrified by a natural acidity typical of wines grown here, Suendero soars with cassis and spiced cedar wood perfumes, velvet texturing and a rose petal–laced delicacy belying a strong, massive sense of concentration. Jada Vineyard & Winery 2012 Strayts, Paso Robles ($48) 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon The Linne-Diablo complex of soils runs through this Paso Robles Willow Creek District estate, giving a strong sense of place to this blend: smartly creased acid/tannin backbone and snap-crackle raciness driving a tight, silky, moderately weighted length of flavors, bristling with black cherry, roasting coffee spice and cedary complexities. Cass Vineyard & Winery 2011 Reserve, Paso Robles ($90) 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Malbec, 18% Petit Verdot This may come as news, but the finest Bordeaux-style reds may very well be coming from the East rather than West Side of Paso Robles, as evidenced by this Paso Robles Geneseo District AVA estate, located in the calcareous, gravelly alluvial terraces along the Huerohuero River: power- ful array of blackcurrant, mint, violet, mineral and faintly herbal fragrances, mingling in a silken fine, buoyant, medium-weight body, buttressed by ample acid/tannin spine. VARIETAL BOTTLINGS Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery 2012 Merlot, Paso Robles ($34) This qui ntessen- tially varietal bottling—brim- ming with plump, pillowy, pungent black cherry qualities—epitomizes wines coming from the hills of the El Pomar District AVA, with its calcareous Linne Calodo (i.e., weathered shale/ sandstone) slopes, and Mediterranean temperatures just warm enough to shed pyrazines and cool enough to retain varietal perfumes. B & E Vineyard 2009 Reserve Merlot, Paso Robles ($24) The porous sandy loam slopes of the Creston District AVA rise to 2,000 feet, and counter-intuitively, this East Side sub-AVA is the second coolest in Paso Robles. Ideal for Merlots like the B & E: rounded full-body (14.9% alcohol) filled out by meaty, sturdy tannin, while remaining lush and perfumed, with underlying herbal notes defined by a sweet mint leafiness. HammerSky Vineyards 2010 Red Handed Estate Merlot, Paso Robles ($45) Tucked into a narrow corridor at the south- ern edge of the Adelaida District AVA, on 1,600-foot slopes of largely calcareous Linne Calodo and limestone, HammerSky produces a Merlot of almost Cabernet Sauvignon–like propor- tions: opaque, big, sinewy, somewhat chewy in tannin, with ponderous black cherry liqueur–like fruit hitting deep, resonating notes. Brecon Estate 2012 Cabernet Franc, Paso Robles ($42) A Welshman named Damian Grindley cultivates some of Paso Robles' oldest (mid-'70s), own-rooted plantings of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon in this Adelaida District estate. The Cabernet Franc is almost Chinon-like: lacy, silky, perky, medium-bodied sensations that are largely pyrazine-free, with an accent on floral, spicy/ minerally, raspberry and mint perfumes. Halter Ranch Vineyard 2012 Malbec, Paso Robles ($55) The colluvial, limestone- rich soils of this good sized Adelaida District property (280 planted acres) produces a broad, meaty Malbec, corded with tannin muscle, encasing brambly fruit, mixing black and red berry sensations under a silky veneer. Bon Niche Cellars 2011 Fenêtres Petit Verdot, Paso Robles ($35) The East Side's Paso Robles Estrella District holds great promise for high-phenolic, edgy varieties like Petit Verdot, and all the components are here: vivid purplish color; plum and spice cake complexity; a fistful full of tight, coiled, brawny yet nimble flavors. TASTING NOTES Here's a recent roundup of Paso Robles CAB Collective members' varietals and blends, connecting the dots between place and sensations. Brecon Estate 2012 Cabernet Franc, ($42)

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