Paso-ing the Time with the One You Love

Many of y’all know that Kara and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary last Tuesday.

Some of you even know that we spent that day in the wine country of Paso Robles.

But nobody…

NOBODY…

Nobody knows what went down that day…

Until now.

Paso Robles is a good two and a half hour drive South from our home, so we jumped in the ol’ car ’round 8am that morning. From the Bay Area, it’s pretty easy to get there… Just jump on the 101, and go nuts.

We arrived in Paso at 10:30. Our first destination was Justin Vineyards & Winery on the far West end of Paso Robles…

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A view of the Vineyards at Justin

I’ve been a fan of Justin for a little while (Remember when I tried their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon last year?).

Although they are most well-known for their Bordeaux style wines, we were able to taste a nice and herby Tempranillo and beautifully smokey Syrah.

Of course, my favorite tasting at Justin was their 2009 Isosceles…

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Justin 2009 Isosceles

The Isosceles is Justin’s Left Bank style Bordeaux blend. It is 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Merlot, and retails for $62.

Color: Dark ruby.

Nose: A beautiful scent of blackberries and cassis with just a touch of cocoa powder.

Taste: Big black fruits, licorice, tobacco, and pepper. The limestone soils of the vineyard gives the wine a good acidity to balance with the fruit and tannin.

Score: This is a beautiful wine that drinks well now, but would taste great in about 7 years. 92 points.

The next stop on our Paso Robles adventure was Tablas Creek Vineyard

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The barrels in view from the tasting room at Tablas Creek.

I’ve known about Tablas Creek for a while (mainly because of their numerous Wine Blog Award nominations and wins for Blog Tablas Creek), but have never had the opportunity to taste their wines.

It was clear to Kara and me from the get go, that we made a good choice by stopping here…

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For starters, they offer you a big steel bottle of water on your way in. There’s a refrigerated dispenser that you can use to refill whenever you need to. When you’re done at the tasting room, you just leave the bottles on the counter. Every tasting room should do this. EVERY… SINGLE… TASTING ROOM.

Tablas Creek is partly owned by the Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel in the Chateauneuf du Pape region of France. Slowly, but surely, over the years they have been importing Rhone vines from France to plant in their vineyards. It is an extremely time-consuming, and expensive process, but I can’t think of many other places in California that can match the style and quality of the Rhone wines that we tasted on Tuesday.

Here are some of my favorites…

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Tablas Creek 2010 Cotes de Tablas

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Tablas Creek 2010 Mourvedre (How do you pronounce it?)

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Tablas Creek 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel: Ripe blackberry and raspberry on the palate. Rich. Luscious. Dope. 92

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Tablas Creek 2010 Counoise

When we were done with the tasting, we were given the tasting glasses to take home with us.

On the way out, I noticed some of the young Mourvedre vines that were waiting to be grafted, and just had to take a picture…

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Mourvedre

Tablas Creek Vineyard is easily one of the best Winery/Tasting Room experiences that I have ever had. Nothing flashy. No gimmicks. Just great wine in a friendly environment. The passion is in the wine and the people who are serving it, and it shows.

Just great.

Just go there.

Our next stop was Cypher Winery

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Cypher Winery

Cypher Winery is home of the Freakshow label. In spite of the wacky labels and names for the wines, these guys bring some quality juice.

My favorite of the day was…

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Freakshow 2009 “Loco” Tempranillo. This wine a good combination of dark berries, herbs, and oak. Definitely recommended.

Next, we made our way over to Turley Wine Cellars to get our Zinfandel on…

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Turley Wine Cellars

Turley is well-known for making great single-vineyard Zinfandels from Napa and Paso Robles. I was a big fan of this one…

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Turley 2009 Ueberroth Vineyard Zinfandel: Good blueberry fruit with herbs and spices. 90+

Many of the wineries we visited sent us home with glasses from the tasting room. Turley gave us the option of a glass or a stainless steel water bottle full of ice-cold water…

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Guess which one we took?

After Turley, we mosied down the street to the new Sextant Wines tasting room…

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Sextant Wines

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This is the Sextant 2007 Kamal Cabernet Sauvignon. It was pretty good.

Our last winery of the day was Zenaida Cellars, where there was a ridiculously long list of wines available to taste…

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Zenaida Cellars

All of their wines were great, and the folks working at the tasting room were really cool.

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We came home with the Zenaida 2009 Zephyr, a semi-Rhone blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and a splash of Viognier.

After a long day of tasting wine, we checked into our hotel and spent a bit of time at the pool before heading out to dinner at Buona Tavola

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Buona Tavola

Buona Tavola specializes in Northern Italian Cuisine.  They have two locations… One in San Luis Obispo and one in, of course, Paso Robles.

The wine list was very extensive, and very reasonable.  We decided to go with this one…

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The Cascina Val Del Prete 2010 Barbera D’Alba is fruit-forward and has enough complexity to be enjoyed on its own, but the subtle Earthiness and good acidity make it a great food wine as well.

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While looking over the menu, I took full advantage of the fresh bread and olive tapenade on the table. “What’s that? Do I want more? Yes, please. Keep it coming!”

They have a very reasonably priced three course meal, so Kara and I jumped all over it…

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Round One: Insalata al Cuore di Cesare

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Round Two: Fettuccine al Sugo di Carni Miste

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Round Three: A Really Good Pork Chop

I don’t know if it was the wine, or the people, the fact that it’s so fresh in my mind, or because it was our anniversary… But I cannot remember having a more all-around pleasant experience wine tasting.

I’ve heard people gush over Paso before, but I never imagined that this place really would live up to the hype.

I was wrong.

This place is fantastic.

You should go.

If you don’t believe me, it’s cool.

Just do yourself a favor.

Believe the Hype!

Stay Rad,

Jeff

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8 Responses to “Paso-ing the Time with the One You Love”

  1. the drunken cyclist Says:

    Ahhh Tablas. Been meaning to name it there for some time now. Thanks for the write-up. Trying to stay Rad!

  2. enotecaMarcella Says:

    You know, I’ve been thinking of adding to my metal water bottle collection. Looks like Paso is the place to do it! 🙂 Yes Tablas Creek is certainly a mainstay in the CA wine scene. I don’t know if they told you but they’ve been the source of many CA wineries’ Rhone vines over the years. I really want to visit Hurley too. Next time!

  3. Amy Griffith Says:

    Many Congratulations from your friends at Sextant Wines! It was an honor and pleasure to have you visit us on your special day. Please know that we have many things in store for future events so don’t hesitate to come and see us
    again.
    Cheers!

  4. Marcello Buonarroti Says:

    I love that area of California, but I didn’t know it had such good vineyards.

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