Tag Archive for paso robles

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: 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: 2012 La Ferme Julien Rose

Simple, but good. Those were the first words out of my mouth when I sipped the 2012 La Ferme Julien Rose while watching “True Detective” and twirling some spaghetti squash with pesto and peas onto my fork earlier this week.

It was such an easy-drinker I had to refrain myself from finishing more than half the bottle on my own. I believe my other half was skipping out on wine that night because he had to work late into the evening. The kind, generous fiancee I am, I twisted back the screw top and put some of this dry, fruity rose back in the fridge so he could enjoy it, too.

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And enjoy it he did. The next night we finished off the bottle I picked up at Trader Joe’s.

Grapes for La Ferme are grown on vines that sit atop the slopes of Mont-Ventoux in the Rhone Valley in France by the Perrin family. The Perrins are known for their Roussannes as well as their collaboration with Tablas Creek in Paso Robles.

This cherry blossom pink wine doesn’t smell like much at first, but the aromas come in the longer it’s out. It has strawberry flavors in there, but most of the fruitiness is muted. It’s dry, but not too dry. On a 1 to 10 scale of dryness, with 1 being really, really dry, I’d give this a 4. There’s not a leathery feeling on the tongue, in fact the wine is pretty refreshing. Some may call it watery, but I disagree. I think it has just the right amount of lightness. It’s cool and refreshing.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: La Ferme Julien
  • Type: Rose
  • Origin: Rhone Valley, France 
  • Price: $5.99
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: On a hot, hot summer day, possibly while switching off from lounging in a beach chair to hitting a slip and slide.

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.

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.

 

Review: Clautiere Vineyard Port

I had never had Port until I visited Clautiere Vineyards in Paso Robles. The winery’s tasting room is all about transporting you to a magical place of whimsy and they pull it off–especially with the secondary hat room. You’ve got to see these photos of me sporting the classiest of caps:

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Now that I’ve embarrassed myself, let’s talk about the wine. I popped the port open this evening because I decided on a whim to make baked apples inspired by my late Bubbe and after drizzling the luscious dark purple liquid onto the bright green Granny Smith apples (how appropriate), I decided to pour myself a glass. I promise, I’ll share the recipe in an upcoming post.

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It’s been quite some time since I tried the libation in the Alice in Wonderland meets Marie Antoinette tasting room. After twisting off the cork, you see the deep purple stain on its edge and cocoa and alcohol scents swirl up towards your nose.

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It tastes like Black Forest cake and cream, which gives it a semi-syrupy feel on your tongue. By the time it hits the back of your throat, you feel the warm tingle. This baby’s alcohol content is 19.2%, I think the highest I’ve ever had in a wine!

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Ports are typically sweet and strong and this one has the classic tenets.

Nuts and Bolts

Wine in a can? Wine in paper bottles? What’s up with that?

For those of us who went to college in the past 10 years, we’ve had our fair share of wine in a box. Who can forget slap the bag? 

But wine in paper bottles and wine in cans? These are new and intriguing entries to the U.S. wine market.

First, the paper bottle:

It’s made by a U.K company called GreenBottle and the eco-friendly company’s first U.S. partner is California-based Truett-Hurst. Inside this interesting container will be Paperboy, a 2012 red blend from Paso Robles. What’s in the blend doesn’t seem to be portrayed on the bottle, but it does clock in at 14.5% alcohol and it’s coming to a Safeway stores soon. The paper bottle has already been used by Kingsland Wines on the other side of the pond. That winery used the label Thirsty Earth for its paper bottle wines, which included a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and an Australian Shiraz.

Photo: thedieline.com

Photo: thedieline.com

Much like boxed wines, paper bottles are lined with a plastic bladder to hold the liquid. According to Fox News, you can put it in ice for up to three hours without the paper disintegrating. I feel like I need to test this out myself before believing that one. I don’t know how much it will cost, but once I figure that out, I’ll update.

Now, the can:

An Oregon winery has canned Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in 8 ounce containers! Union Wine Co., which cans the wine under the label Underwood, wanted to reverse the craft beer trend, where beer has been elevated out of Miller and Bud territory and into the world of tastings and fancy glasses, much like wine.

Photo: Union Wine Co.

Photo: Union Wine Co.

“We wanted to come up with a product that embodied our company’s philosophy of making great craft wine minus all the fuss,” Ryan Harms, owner of Union Wine Co., told Fast Company.“There is a ‘winification’ of beer trend going on and Union Wine Co. is at the forefront of a new trend, the ‘beerification’ of wine.”

It’s about taking the snobbery out of wine and making it more accessible, which seems to be the trend du jour. The cans even feature the Twitter hashtag #pinkiesdown.

They’ll be available next year; $5 for an 8-ounce can.

Wine Jelly

As soon as I saw we were out of Penman Springs wine jelly, I looked like this:

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When I found out that I could make my own wine jelly, perhaps one that could rival that of Penman Springs, I turned that frown upside down:

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You see, I first discovered wine jelly at Penman Springs while wine tasting in Paso Robles during Valentine’s Day weekend. Penman Springs is a country-style winery, fit with rolling hills, a white farm house and delicious, warm baguettes and house-made wine jelly ready for you when you come in for a tasting.

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That cute little farm house is where Penman Springs does their tastings

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That’s me hanging out in the vineyard at Penman Springs

I liked the wine jelly so much, I bought four jars of it. The jelly lasted me almost nine months, but when making almond butter (the best) and wine jelly (also, the best) sandwiches the other day for lunch, we reached the end of the last jar.

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Turns out, though, it’s not too hard to make wine jelly at home. Here’s the recipe I plan to use from allrecipes.com.

This makes 5 half-pint jars:

  • 3 1/2 cups wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounce package dry pectin (a jelling ingredient made from apple and citrus fruits)
  • 4 1/2 cups white sugar

In a large pot, bring the wine, lemon juice and pectin to a boil. Stir frequently. Add/dissolve sugar. Turn the heat back up and bring to a rolling boil for one minute, while stirring. Remove from stove and skim the foam off the top. Put the hot jelly into sterilized mason jars with 1/2 inch of space near the top. Close up the jar and put bathe them in boiling water for five minutes.

Do you have a better wine jelly recipe? Let me know!