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

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rebel With A Cause!

Finally arriving at L'Aventure winery after the adventure of travelling a long dirt road into the deepest darkest calcareous hills west of Paso Robles, I knew I had hit pay dirt. Not only did I meet Tom Rice who's got the dirt on everybody in Paso, but I got to hear owner and winemaker Stephan Asseo talk dirt with Tom. Stephan has siliceous dirt and calcareous dirt at Stephan Vineyards. This hybridity really seemed to turn Tom on. Stephan who escaped France because of the rigidity of the French Appellation system, seemed really excited by the opportunities before him. France would not allow him to blend Rhone and Bordeaux varietals. France is steeped in tradition that inhibits innovation and experimentation. No beta versions for them. You better get it right the first time and stick to the rules.

Stephan's cause celebre is "where Bordeaux meets the Rhone". Bordeaux meets the Rhone in Paso Robles, the halfway point - halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, halfway between Seattle and Tucson, halfway between the Gironde and the Rhone. Stephan's passion is evident in his choice of terroir and in his winemaking skills. His wines are big, substantial and chewy without being jammy or fruitbombs. L'Aventure may well be the best winery in Paso Robles. The wines are definitely to my taste. No teeny weeny meager, thin, nasty, mean wines, these! Even the one white, a Roussanne/Viognier blend is big bodied, fruity and voluptuous. The reds are full of fruit, but structured with soft tannins and acid backbone. Mostly made to age, they are fabulous to drink right now. Stephan is clearly a star in the American firmament, but it hasn't gone to his head. He encourages all of his staff to make their own wines which brings us to Jacob Toft.

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