Sunday, November 04, 2007

Paso Robles Harvest Tour 2007

This was my first time traveling with the wonderful new lady in my life, Cara, so I focused on enjoying the company and the scenery. Unlike earlier years, I didn't try to cram as many tasting rooms as possible in each day. So we had a lovely time with friends Arthur and Judy on Saturday and Mike and Lisa (and their kids) on Sunday.

Readers of Mike's excellent Wine Commonsewer blog may recall that last year I ragged on Paso wineries for drinking the high-alcohol Kool-Aid (if that metaphor makes any sense) and for jacking up their prices. This year we found fewer alcohol bombs and the prices seem to have stabilized. Very enjoyable wines but few screaming bargains. With few exceptions, expect to pay $18 - $28 for good Paso wines.

New places we liked: Whalebone Vineyard. The BOB wines are excellent blends. And Bob makes a tasty steak slider.

Silver Horse, vines shown below. It's new to us -- they've been around for awhile, but it's the first time I've visited. Excellent Malbec. The Big Easy (mostly Temperanillo and Granache) is lovely.

Another place we'll keep an eye on is Sculpterra, which opened the day before we arrived and had only three of its nine wines available for tasting. I hope the wines live up to the surroundings, because the owners have placed an impressive and striking sculpture garden on the grounds. It's in the middle of nowhere, but it promises to be a destination site over time.

Here's Saturday's motley crew:

And Arthur and Judy. I think Arthur has a little Captain in him.
Of course we visited Dover Canyon, where the 2006 Cujo Zinfandel is outstanding. (No surprise there; I like everything Dan and Mary produce, and the Cujo, when they make it, is always a treat.)

Robert Hall again did fine work. Their Rhone de Robles Rhone blend was a hit, both at the tasting room and at dinner Sunday night. Less than $15 a bottle retail. Quite a buy.

Didn't visit Caparone, but I'm still a big fan and a wine club member. We had a 2003 Aglianico last night with baked catfish in a lemon garlic marinade. I decanted the wine (because the Caparones say you could cellar it for up to 25 years) and it was terrific. Plus, it's about $12 a bottle. Great stuff. They produce the best values in the area. Just be sure to let the wines open up before drinking.

And of course we checked out the elephant seals at San Simeon. After traveling to the Cambria/Paso Robles area at least once a year for nearly a decade, I didn't discover the seals until 2005. Now I can't get enough of them. Wonderful shot by Cara.

The weather was perfect, the company outstanding, and the wine delightful. What more could you want? Oh yeah, a few more days to enjoy the place.