Thursday, February 25, 2010

PasoWine tasting

Whoa. My fisrt big commercial tasting event as part of "the industry" and I have to say I was unimpressed on many levels.

Firstly, a lot of the wine sucked and sucked in the same way. Meaning the wine was uniformally bad for similar reasons and was remarkably homogenous in nature.

Second, the area is becoming over infatuated with Rhone blends and everyone has the same exact clones and is trying to do essentially the same thing, which is probably why the above is true.

Third, Paso wine got expensive. I used enjoy the area for the multitude of high quality wines under $20. That number seems to have moved northwards towards $30 or so. However, I was impressed that Ancient Peaks and Robert Hall were making some excellent wines in the sub $20 price range.

Fourth, The wine industry is far too slick and douchey for me. Seriously, everyone looked like they were either a smooth city slicker or a contrived rough 'n tumble farmer type. Very little diversity in the crowd. I expected more.

Fifth, The huge number of wineries represented coupled with the small amount of time. This made it impossible to objectively assess all the produceres and wines.

Despite all my apparent negativity there were some good moments and wines at the event. The highlights are as follows:

Adelaida Cellars
I 've wanted to visit the tasting room for years but have never made it their in time. So iwas excited to try the wines for the first time. Despite the rep being a bit of a weirdo their wine was pretty damn good. Especially enjoyed the 2006 Version Red (9/10) for $30.

Alta Colina Cellars
Newer place which I had never heard of until yesterday. Maggie is the owners daughter and you can tell she really believes in the wine, which was very good as well, albeit a touch pricey. The 2008 Claudia cuvee (8.5/10) for $28 was one of the better Rhone style whites of the event.

Anglim Winery
Another place I had never heard of but was glad I stopped by. The owner, Steve Anglim, was a very congenial fellow and his wines were exceptional at their pricepoint. The 2008 Red Cedar Grenach Blanc (8/10) for $28 was refreshing and bright while the '07 Hastings Ranch Mourvedre (9/10) for $34 was among my favorites of the event.

This booth was busy the whole time and I never really got a chance to figure out what they were about but the wines were all good. I especially enjoyed the 2006 companion (8.5/10) for $40, a interesting blend of Cab and Syrah.

Halter Ranch
I must confess that I am a member of theire cellar club and this event showed why. They keep it simple and their wine is priced very well for it's high level of quality and craftmanship. Their new blend, Cotes de Paso Blanc was among the best Rhone style whites .

Hope Family Wines
I've been drinking Liberty School Cab for a few years and it never dissapoints for it's pricepoint. But the big news for me was the 2007 Treana White, a blend of Marsanne and Viognier that was tied (with '07 Espirit Blanc by Tablas) for the best white of the event. At the $25 pricepoint the wine was phenomenal and is worth picking up today (9.5/10)

Kenneth Volk
I really enjoyed speaking to some of the proprietors of the various wineries and Ken Volk was no exception. On of the few produced doing some truly unique stuff. The 2008 Verdelho for $22, was a refreshing departure from the glut of viognier (8/10) and the 2005 Cab franc for $36 was a change of pace from the many of the overdone GSM's presented (8/10).

Another owner, who had time to sit and talk with about his wines. The bordeaux styled 2006 Meritage for $32, featuring Cab, Merlot, Petite Verdot and Malbec was a standout (8.5/10)

Tablas Creek
The reason all these wineries are producing so much GSM and RMV ie. Rhone varietals. But alas they do it better than almost anyone. The 2007 Esprirt de Beaucastel Blanc is amazing and I can't wait to drink more (9.5/10). I must also confess that I have been a member of their cellar club for several years.

Well that's about the size of it. Nex time I go to a tasting I'll know what to expect and come with a different attitude.

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