Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Sunday, October 14, 2007

So Many Wines, So Little Time!

I seem to have gotten lost in Paso Robles. Perhaps it was intentional! After all with 170 wineries who has time to check them all out. In total, I only managed to visit eight. That leaves 162 wineries. Even though I had a day and a half, my record was worse than at, say, Taste Washington, where I typically only have two hours to taste 800 wines from 200 wineries or Taste Walla Walla where you are expected to taste through close to a hundred wineries in two hours. Speaking of Walla Walla, I found myself wondering in a wild sort of way, whether I was in Paso Walla or Walla Robles. The resemblances are so strong even down to former Washington Wine Commission Maestro, Steve Burns who just took over the helm in Paso Robles. You know you can expect to find Paso Robles doing some kind of Taste Paso and taking it on the road to all of our good fortune.

Paso was known for olives for many years and it is only recently that the wine world there has bloomed. Just like Walla Walla, known for onions, the number of wineries has exploded in the past five to ten years. Paso even has its eccentric Frenchman at L'Aventure making world class wine . It has its incubator wineries similar to those at the Walla Walla airport such as Anglim which has a tasting room downtown and makes wine in a shared facility. Winemakers help each other out. The winemaker at Tablas Creek trained with the winemaker at Adelaida and Tablas Creek in partnership with Chateau Beaucastel imported Rhone varietal vines that pretty much launched the Rhone Rangers and many of the wineries in Paso Robles. It even has it's superstars such as Helen Turley who can hide out in Paso from the advocats and barristers in Napa while turning out great wines in pastoral bliss just west of downtown.

Paso is split into two very distinct regions - east and west of downtown. To the west, the wines are the antithesis of the stereotypic California fruitbomb. No tropical fruit and oak here. The wines are almost all somewhat acidic and thin in a style very similar to their French counterparts. They are definitely food wines. To Robert Parker's credit many of these limestone based wines have scored in the 90s showing that Parker is not stuck on the gout Parker, even though winemakers all over the world are still striving for the Enologix numbers that paint a wine big with lots of fruit and chocolate. Wines from the east side are valley wines with more fruit and soft structure, more typical of the California prototype. With so many wines and so little time we spent what little we had on the west side among the limestone slopes between the town and the glorious 1700 foot hills lurking majestically above the Pacific.
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