Paso Robles

Review: 2013 Sculpterra Mourevadre

Oh man, do I love a good a good Syrah/Mourevadre blend. While visiting Sculpterra in Paso Robles (highly recommend a visit; the wine is delicious, but they also have an awesome sculpture garden and often have music out in the back), I picked up their Mourevadre, which actually was blended with a bit of Petit Sirah.

This dry red wine has a bit of vanilla in there, making it sweeter than expected. Some fig and plum also pop out. The wine is aged in oak for 10 months, 25% in French Oak.

I brought it along to one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Santa Monica called Fritto Misto. It has a cheap corkage fee ($2 a person, not bad!).

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Sculpterra
Type: 88% Mourevadre, 12% Petit Sirah
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2013
Price: $36
Alcohol content: 15.3%
When to drink: Have a few friends or family over for spaghetti and meatballs and pop open this Cab (remember to give it plenty of time to breathe first).

Review: 2012 Fratelli Perata Cabernet Sauvignon

Tomatoes! I don’t think I’ve ever had wine with a deep, roasted tomato taste, but the 2012 Fratelli Perata Cabernet Suvignon does. And it’s yummy. Not a weird tomato taste, but it’s an almost Earthy quality that makes this wine pair well with spaghetti and meatballs!

I picked up this unfiltered wine on a trip to Paso Robles. A fellow wine lover had recommended it while I was visiting Midnight Cellars with my husband. “If you like Italian wines,” he said, “go there, now!” So we did. The wine tasting room was very small and a few old timers were already there drinking at the bar. This is a very quaint winery that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles like many others now. If you want cheese plates and corn hole, this wine tasting room isn’t for you.
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But the big-flavored reds were satisfying. This cab was well-rounded with intense fruit and that’s why I bought it. I will say the label advises to decant for an hour and I would highly recommend doing so. Otherwise, you’re going to get an alcoholic burn that masks the majesty of this drinking Cab. Even after decanting though, you can still expect this wine to have a tart dryness from the tannins.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Fratelli Perata
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2012
Price: $36
Alcohol content: 13.6%
When to drink: Put some steak rubbed with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper on the BBQ and then indulge. (Remember to give it plenty of time to breathe first).

Review: 2013 Zenaida Cellars Zephyr

We came across Zenaida Cellars towards the end of a recent Paso Robles trip. It was supposed to be our last winery of the stay as we made our way out of town, but upon the recommendation of the woman serving us 10:30 a.m., we headed up the road to Ecluse. We are now members at Ecluse and I am always so grateful for the recommendation.

In addition to the wonderful recommendation, Zenaida had solid wines of its own. The 2013 Zephyr, especially. This blend is 55% Syrah, 40% Zin, 5% Viognier (!!!, more on the !!! later).

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It’s smooth, velvety and just lovely. The meaty red blend has notes of cherry (it’s fruit-forward no doubt), too. Now you may ask, what’s with all those exclamation points? Well I was surprised to see Viognier, a white varietal, mixed in with the predominantly Syrah/Zin blend. Not only was this a yummy wine, but it provided a teaching moment. File under: TIL!

The white grape once was commonly blended with Syrah in France as the varietals grow alongside each other in a region in the northern Rhone Valley. The practice still occurs in France, but not as often as back in the day. You will also see it done in Australia.

As an aside, Zenaida also has a cute little loft on the property where you can stay. The room was out of our budget, but if you’ve got the dough, it’s a good location.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Zenaida Cellars
Type: Syrah (55%), Zin (40%), Viognier (5%)
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2013
Price: $42
Alcohol content: 15.8%
When to drink: With a juicy, rear steak.

Review: 2015 Midnight Cellars Aurora

We almost didn’t go to Midnight Cellars on out last trip to Paso Robles. We had already been to three wineries and I had made a rule that this time, we would cut ourselves off after three. That didn’t happen. We slid right back into our 4 to 5 wineries a day bit. Oh, well.

Walking into Midnight Cellars, it was just half an hour before most of the wineries were shutting down for the day. The winery was down the street from a few others we had visited (Caliza, Grey Wolf, Niner — no worries, I’ll talk about them all in future posts) and I had seen it when I was googling around for new places to visit during our anniversary trip to Paso.

We walk in and our greeted by a very, very old cat. Chardonnay has been around for 17 years! We were the only ones there and ordered up two tastings. The woman who helped us was very sweet. She had grown up in Paso and many of the winemakers in the area were her her childhood friends’ dads. Outside the window we caught a group of ducklings running around with mama out of sight. It was all very quaint on the 28-acre estate.

"Oh yea, that's from the winery with the 1,000 year old cat." Sipping @midnightcellars' 💫Aurora 💫 tonight

A photo posted by Wine For The Win (@wineforthewin) on

We took home the Aurora and the winery kindly waived both our tasting fees. We cracked open the bottle a few days after returning home. It’s been hot outside and we were craving a white. Right away, the wine emits a sweet smell, but it doesn’t taste saccharine. Instead, it tastes tart with tropical fruit flavors shining through. Grapefruit!

This is a crisp wine that’s a quarter each Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne. Rhone varietals represent! I’m a fan of rich, dry Rousannes and I was surprised to see it quite a bit while we were in Paso this time around (Paso tends to be a red-loyal town with few wineries that I’ve seen offering a healthy white wine tasting. One winery even told us that they stopped putting whites in their wine club shipments because so many people complained that they wanted all reds!) You could taste the citrus of the Marsanne shining through and the mixture made for a flavored dance bopping around in your mouth.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Midnight Cellars
Type: Aurora
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2015
Price: $29
Alcohol content: 13.6%
When to drink: We drank this while watching the 2nd Harry Potter as we are revisiting the entire series, but I can see this as a perfect wine for sunny picnic days. Would be great even sitting out in the yard, munching on a citrusy ceviche.

Review: 2013 Ecluse Cabernet Sauvignon

When I went up to Paso Robles last, my goal was to find a new wine club. I had been a wine club member at a Temecula Winery for about two years, but was itching for something new. Over the weekend, I visited about seven wineries and was about to give up. Then at our last stop on Sunday before we headed back, another winery owner suggested we try Ecluse up the road.

Ecluse is on the westside of Paso Robles. It’s an unpretentious winery with a steel shed tasting room where they let you taste wine straight from the barrel, an experience I highly recommend. After our tasting, my husband and I were sold; we became winery members right then and took home a dozen bottles.

Got to barrel-taste the 14 Improv from @eclusewines this weekend. It's gonna be sooo good

A photo posted by Wine For The Win (@wineforthewin) on

This week we drank the 2013 Ecluse Cabernet Sauvignon. It smelled delicious and tasted like candy! No, no, it’s not like a sugary-gives-your-teeth-cavities candy, but a delicious dark licorice that you savor. The wine weighs heavy on your tongue, burrowing deep with its full-mouth feel.

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The dark purple liquid had a short-lived and somewhat bitter aftertaste, but that went away with time. I think the burn could be attributed to the high alcohol level of 14.9%. The wine, which also had a coffee flavor that complimented our steak dinner, needed some air. I bet if we drank this wine in 2017 rather than a few days ago it would have calmed down a bit more. Only 240 barrels of this award-winning wine were made.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Ecluse Wines
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2013
Price: $40, Club $32
Alcohol content: 14.9%
When to drink: This wine is perfect for philosophical discussions.

Review: 2012 Stateland Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

When you drink this berrylicious Cabernet Sauvignon, your mouth will water. The blackberry aroma and soft tannins of this easy-to-drink Cab can be quite persuasive.

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However, this Central Coast red can be a bit leathery at times, lying heavy on the tongue, coating it as if it were leaving behind a prime layer of paint. It can have a bump in the finish, but that dissipates the longer it breathes.

Use the leftovers, if you have any, as a steak marinade. I did this with Tri-tip, salt, pepper, cumin and garlic and loved the berry/ savory results.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Stateland Cellars
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Paso Robles
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $19, purchased at Bevmo 5 cent wine sale, so I got two for one, basically
  • Alcohol content: 13.7%
  • When to drink: Bring this to a dinner party. The classic label makes it look more expensive that it is and the balanced, fruity Cab will be a crowd-pleaser.

Review: 2010 Tablas Creek En Gobelet

Friday night was frustrating. On my way to pick up the other half from the train station, I get pulled over by a cop who gives me a ticket. Then my car won’t start and the cop just drives off. Triple A comes and saves me and lover drives home.

What a sucky start to the evening.

So sucky that we decided to pull out our Valentine’s Day wine and drink it with our Matzoh pizza–what Jews eat during Passover, imagine mushroom, spinach, goat cheese, mozzarella, and pizza sauce over a thin, crackery crust. We missed out on the Valentine’s Day wine, which we had been saving since our Paso Robles trip Valentine’s 2013 because we were traveling in Argentina this past February, drinking lots of Malbec.

We had picked up the 2010 Tablas Creek En Gobelet while wine tasting and with the happy memories of our first trip to Paso Robles flowing, we uncorked the bottle. On first sip, though, I was disappointed. The wine had this unpleasant alcoholic burn. After letting it air for a bit, though, the burn mostly disappeared and was replaced by a pleasant warmth.

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This red was pungent, bold and definitely had characteristics of Grenache and Mourevadre, the two big players in the blend. The Grenache gave it this long-lasting flavor and full-mouth feel, while the Mourevadre gave it a gaminess of sorts, which was hard to get used to. It wasn’t too fruity, as I’d expect from a Grenache, and it wasn’t jammy like Mourevadre blends I’ve had in the past. The Syrah and Tannat made it dark and smoky.

It reminded me of a dark chocolate flourless cake,which I’m not a super fan of. Not in the flavors, there was some chocalatyness to it, but that was in the background; rather in the hit or miss quality. Flourless chocolate cakes always sound so good to me, but then the intense flavors can overwhelm. This is a slow-drinker; not a gulpable wine.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Tablas Creek
  • Type: Blend (37% Grenache, 28% Mourevadre,  13% Syrah, 12% Counoise, 10% Tannat)
  • Origin: Paso Robles
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Price: $40
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: After you let this wine aerate for a bit, drink it while reading on your tablet. This is a slow-drinking wine, perfect for swigs every now and then.

Review: 2011 Edna Valley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2011 Edna Valley Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is soft on the way down. It’s oaky, fruity–blackberries, mostly– spicy and has a hint of coffee. It’s a solid Cabernet Suavignon. Drinking this at a party, a friend of mine said it’s a perfect red to loosen up a crowd. I totally agree.

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Edna Valley Vineyard
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Central Coast; Paso Robles
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $9.99
  • Alcohol content: 13%
  • When to drink: At a business mixer when you need to loosen up the crowd.

Paso Robles Man: The most interesting man in the world?

I know I’m late to the gushfest, but I can’t help but share this amazing video of the Paso Wine Man. He gives us the lowdown on vino variety, and let me tell you: it’s amazing. Come on, he compares shitty Chardonnay to a bleached out blonde beauty queens and the real deal to a true California beauty, stripped of the fake tan. What about Pinot Noir? It’s “earthy” and “ephemeral,” just like him. And real men? They’re not afraid of a pink rose. They’re afraid of the road not taken. And clowns. He even looks kind of like a blonde Kevin Spacey and he has the “House of Cards” narrator style down. In my book, he definitely beats Mr. Dos Equis. My favorite part: when he jumps out of an explosion, describing Cabernet Sauvignon as “brooding” and a “summer blockbuster.” What’s your favorite?

Recipe: Bubbe’s Baked Apples with a Twist

Remember how I reviewed Clautiere Vineyard’s 2005 Port? Well if you do, which you should because it was literally the post before this one, than you’d recall that I gave a sneak peak into my favorite baked apple recipe, and now I’m going to do the big reveal.

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Check out that dark glaze!

Tada!

My grandmother used to make me baked apples all the time, only she made them with Manischewitz wine, like all good Bubbe’s do. If you’re not familiar with Manishewitz, it’s a common staple in a Jewish home, oft seen at Shabbos dinners and Passover Seder tables. It’s a bright purple wine made from concord grape, yes, concord grape, and it’s sugary with an unpleasant burn. But in baked apples, it’s great! The wine shrivels up into a bright sweet jelly-like substance.

My late-grandmother

My late-grandmother

I decided, though, to add my own twist to Bubbe’s recipe, swapping Manishewitz for a chocaltatey port. I also added cinnamon and walnuts, which my grandmother didn’t include. The result was a much more savory-sweet dessert with a deep flavor, possibly from the nuts, which also add a nice crunch to the mushy apples. I wish I had vanilla ice cream to scoop alongside it. Mmmmm.

Ingredients:

  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Port
  • 4 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut in half, length-wise

Directions:

Core apples and then cut them in half horizontally. Place them in a Pyrex pan. Scoop a small cube of butter into each hole. Sprinkle a little more than a teaspoon of sugar and a half-teaspoon of cinnamon into the holes, as well.

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It’s OK to get sugar/cinnamon/butter on the peel.

 

Then pour the port, about a tablespoon and a half, into the holes. Lastly, cover up the holes with chopped nuts.

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I forgot to take a picture after they were chopped!

Place the apples in the oven at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

You could also make these with a dry white wine. I’d just use white sugar instead of brown and skip the cinnamon. Red apples would work, too.