Life is better on the corner, the place where great wines meet reasonable prices!




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wine of the Week: 2011 Elk Cove, Mount Richmond Pinot Noir

“He who knows how to taste, does not drink wine, but savors it secrets” ~ Salvador Dali

There were more a few secrets which needed to slowly be unfolded from what turned out to be quite the tasty Pinot Noir I had hoped it would be. It did take two bottles tho to discover it, as Capt. Obvious was no where in sight the first time I uncorked this wine. Some wines while excellent [or at least very good] like the one pictured above take time to understand the distinctive character they possess, if we are patient enough to see them unfold. 

After uncorking this wine and pouring myself a glass into an expressive Riedel Pinot Noir stem, the wine seemed very closed and quite standoffish to the point, that I knew I'd have to open something else until this wine was ready to go. I grabbed my handy-dandy Riedel decanter in hopes that a bit more air would/could coax this wine out of acoma. I knew there was still a pulse, but it was slow and shallow. As I leaned into close to the wine being decanted I thought I could hear it faintly saying, "Decant me for two hours or more first, then enjoy all my rustic charms long into the night!!". It was this wines rustic charms, which convinced me to feature it as the Wine of the Week [a highly coveted title]. Yes indeed, a classic example of what can often be expected from the 2011 vintage. 
“The 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot is a perfect example of a wine that has tons of fruit, but still has great characters other than fruit.  That’s when you know you’ve had low yields and hillside farming on great vineyard sites” – Winemaker Adam Campbell
I know it was two years ago, but if you will recall that 2011 was the year the entire West Coast had no real summer. The majority [blanket statement: meaning most, but not all.] of the growing season was bathed in only cloud-covered sunlight and as we all know, sunlight plays a major parting in the ripening process. 

"Mount Richmond Vineyard sits on Willakenzie soils in the heart of the Yamhill Carlton AVA. Mount Richmond sits at 300-500 feet elevation, lower than the vineyards planted at the winery, which allows for earlier ripening."
After a couple hours of decanting; the nose became much more expressive, and very pretty. I'd even say it became elegant, a vibrant note of elegance, possibly hinting at the lovely complexity waiting to surprise me? On the palate, notes of cranberry and other dark berries, spice, black-tea and briar nuances add some tantalizing breadth. I found the wine light, with raspberry fruit hitting a nice drum solo mid-palate, while veins of stem and earth play bass in the background. It’s nicely balanced, a bit rustic, but true to the variety. The finish was a bit short and sweet, but the gentle tannins and the lingering floral influences and [baking] spice notes bring it all home. Once I had this wine paired with a brilliant mushroom risotto and baked chicken drizzled with a light plum sauce, I thought the wine soared to its highest point of the evening, quite good.

Winemaker, Adam Campbell, comments,“the late and cool vintage really highlights why we choose to grow grapes on the viticultural edge. Extremely long hang time gave us wines with concentrated ripe fruit flavors, beautiful freshness and lower alcohol. These wines are why we love Oregon!”
  
I did receive this wine as a sample earlier this year and this is the second bottle I'm enjoying. But I'd have to say, to be quite honest that after having rested the second bottle another few months, it's showing much better than my previous experience.This vintage is unfortunately sold out; it was available through their website, selling for $43. The release of their 2012 should be due out very soon, [being a relative term] so stay tuned. If I had to speculate about the possible quality of the soon to be released 2012, it would be "wow" followed by you'd better hurry to place your order before they all disappear. 

For those of you interested in scorekeeping, I scored this wine 90 points. A wine well worth the price admission and a wine worth seeking out if you could get your hands on it. Until next time folks remember life is too short to drink bad wine, so choose wisely, drink only what you like, then sip long and prosper cheers!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Uncorked: My Top 10 Wines for the Holiday


"Personally, I love Thanksgiving traditions: watching football, making pumpkin pie, and saying the magic phrase that sends your aunt storming out of the dining room to sit in her car." ~ Stephen Colbert

Another wonderful year nearly ready to put in the can and stored away for posterity, but every year at this time we collectively take time-out to give a "thanks" for our many blessings. I'm especially thankful this year, for the first in many years I'm working full-time in the wine business, and yes this new position will involve making buying decisions as well. Pretty exciting and at the same time a bit sad, because most of my free-time will be swallowed-up commuting back and forth, while I build this new career path, leaving a lot less time for writing.

I know there are a few folks in my age bracket, and I'm mostly speaking to the guys who may be reading this article. It's far too easy to become the grumpy old men, we swore we would never be, yelling and gesturing for the "kid" to get off our collective lawns, even if we haven't kept it up and has now turned a dull shade of brown.

Many of the grumpiest among us, even start to resent holidays, like the one right around the corner, for many it has become far too clichéd, football, pumpkin pies, turkeys and hot sweaters and homes so hot you can get "meat" sweats. Ugh, we let out that collective sigh, speaking for me personally, I do totally 'get' that attitude.

But [yep here it comes] I think many of those "grumps" may just need a couple glasses of decent vino, to help them get over their anti-holiday feelings. So this year when you gather with your families or choose to serve others, use it to embrace them and thank each one of them for being a part of your life, whether you like them or not. I think if we all do that [myself included] we will be better off in the long run. I’m now stepping away from the soap box and returning you to your normally scheduled holiday wine review.

Every year at this time, I give my Top Ten Thanksgiving Holiday Wine "picks" and this year is no exception. I know my post is a bit "danger" close for those wanting to stock up for the holiday, but chalk-up these recommendations for the procrastinators in the audience who've waited for the last minute; to hear about ten tasty selections to brighten up their holiday menus this week. Yes most, but not all of them will be Pinot Noirs. Sorry no white wines to recommend this time around, perhaps next year. 


1. 2010 Chateau Le Thil, Comte Clary: Another very good 2010, but a bit more of a modern style Bordeaux. Still it has a lovely vein of acid, which keeps the abundant red and dark fruit in check. Medium tannins and finish. Drinks like an mid to high priced Napa Valley Cab, which sells for half that price $29.99. With this kind of stellar QPR, you could easily buy 6 or [I know I have] more, and enjoy for years to come. 


2: 2011 Thomas Fogarty, Santa Cruz Mountains, Pinot Noir: On the nose a wonderful perfume [elegant] of dried strawberries, rich earth, raspberry and pronounced cola aromas. After the first splash down, I found this immediately appealing and approachable wine. You’ll find very generous, round tannins, nicely woven into the wines fabric. A real Pinot Noir lovers wine; soft but lush, presenting a raft of baking spices, cinnamon and sandalwood flavors, with a healthy splash of raspberry cola and strawberry pie filling leading to the plush finish. I found the acidity to be bright and crisp, and refreshing gently carrying abundant but nicely textured fruit. A complex wine, which I believe over delivers for the the price point. If this wine will be your first [as it was for me] experience with Thomas Fogarty or the wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains, a bottle of their Pinot Noir will indeed be a great introduction.

This wine clocked in with a reasonable 12.9% ABV, grown at [various] elevations of 400-2400 feet in Shale and Sandstone soils and aged just 10 months in 3rd year French oak barrels. When you see the bottle, [see above] you may be a bit surprised to find it's sporting its throwback label from 1981 to celebrate their 30th anniversary. This vintage is reportedly going to sell for $36 in the tasting room and, of course wine club members will have first dibs.  As for my score, that is if you keep score? I gave this wine 93 points. This is a wine which has earned my highly coveted, "drink now and drink often" designation. So to the entire team at Thomas Fogarty, I say to you all "bravo-bravo" this wine is a real winner and perhaps one of thee best 2011 wines I've encountered. 



3. Garnet 2010 Sonoma Coast Rodgers Creek Vineyard, Pinot Noir: Another wonderful wine from a single vineyard source, which can be found on a high ridge somewhere near Petaluma and Sonoma. I discovered this wine earlier this year, when I met up with Alison Crowe at her deluxe winemaking sanctuary in 2013.  at In the glass you'll find a wonderful cranberry colored core, floral and baking spice aromas swirling about, leaning toward the strawberry end of the flavor spectrum. On the plate a well-balanced attack of baking spices, red berry fruits and finish is plush. I scored this wine 91 points. Just a fantastic wine from the SBC region. Garnet wines really deliver a consistent wine tasting experience and selling for under $30, it's quite the steal!

4. 2012 Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir: This wine is a fantastic bargain at just under $20. I found this wine to have a garnet colored core. The first whiff, reminded me sweet baking spices, rose petals and fragrant strawberries. On palate a nice attack of dusty-spices, sweet vanilla, sandalwood, a silky mouth-feel, and baked strawberries, mouth watering acidity, leading to the plush finish. Adds the perfect score to your holiday menu, I gave this wine a score of 89 points and a hearty buy recommendation. 


5. 2011 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru: The wine you see above is nothing but classic Burgundy, it's a wine I purchased to celebrate finding a new career path in the wine industry. It's another small step forward in the pursuit of goals to not only talk about wine here, but to expand those skills to the workplace where financial and professional rewards are both realized. Now that said, this wine is complex, textured, sporting that famous 2011 acidity [cool year] and still very taught tannins. 

I say classic, because there is abundant forest floor, think of licking wet mushrooms, or smelling a fallen tree branch that has been on the ground for weeks. Freshly cracked peppercorns and fresh summer bing-cherries jamming on bass and did I say minerality? No, well there's plenty of that to go around as well. You could easily cellar this puppy for years to come, but it's enjoyable now. A word to the wise, decant is the word, sorry to disagree with the author of the wine bible, Karen McNeil who does not like to decant PN, instead she likes to see it evolve in the glass. Trust me, decant this puppy for a full flavored thrill ride. This wine is $54 and I scored it, 93 points. 




6. 2010 Chateau Teyssier, Saint Emilion Grand Cru : Woo-hoo, this wine hit it out of the freaking park, seriously great juice for the price. Jumping from Burgundy to Bordeaux, let's take a trip to tasty town via Chateau Teyssier, a Saint Emilion Grand Cru. This wine, of which I just ordered four more, is mind blowing good for the tiny $29 price tag. A blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, taunt tannins stretched out over a canvas of rich black fruit, blackberry, dark plums, cassis, some rustic minerality, beautifully textured, coupled with a long finish bringing it all home. It could definitely age for much longer, 2010 was one thee very best recent vintages in Bordeaux and in this bottle, you find out why that is true. My score 91 points. This is case purchase territory.

7. Hahn 2012 SLH: In the glass a rich looking strawberry colored core. On the first whiff, wow, a wonderful perfume of dried strawberries, rich earth and raspberry. After the first splash down, this immediately appealing Pinot is soft but lush, presenting a raft of vanilla, cinnamon and sandalwood flavors, with a healthy splash of raspberry and strawberry pie filling leading to the silky plush finish. A great performer from our friends at Hahn whose tasting room is found just 40 minutes from the center of town in Monterey, it has a SRP of $25 and is one of my top pick for this weeks festivities.

8. 2011 Red Moutain, Bel Villa Vineyard, Goedhart Family Syrah: This "Terroir Hunter" wine hails from Red Mountain in Washington State. In the glass you'll find the core leaning toward very dark garnet. On the nose compact ripe blueberry and black-berry fruit, with just a touch of olive aromas leaps from the glass. Really nice mouth-feel, plush and giving, balanced acidity, polished blueberry and blackberry and floral flavors are drawn from the nose, leading to a nicely penetrating finish, with touches of chocolate and espresso rounding out the experience. No score offered, just my hearty recommendation. An extremely well done wine, with plenty to offer for the $25 price of admission




9. 2012 Pinot Gris Orange, Regan Vineyard: This wine represents the perfect last review of the month of August, while it's hot and steamy outside, my insides were treated to the summertime sipping delights of the Regan Vineyard, Pinot Gris Orange. The nose itself I thought was quite captivating, it again reminded me of another Chanel quote.
"Perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,” Chanel once explained.
The nose is pretty unique, burnt dried orange-peels, new baseball mitt [freshly oiled] but not off putting, a funky-monkey that will captivate and compel sip after sip and perhaps even the occasional slurp. It's a wine best served chilled, but not too cold. On the palate, bone-dry, high-acid, more citrus and a distinctive dried orange skins, textured tannins and a fine ground minerality. On the long lasting finish, a very compelling blood orange thang.

For those who like to keep scores, I gave this wine a crisp 88 points. I've not had enough wines of this style to form much of an opinion, but this wine was extremely well executed, firing on every cylinder. If you'd like to grab a bottle of this wine, it can be purchased directly from the winery for $33.

The first sip is a head-back wow, you'll find this wine located on the drink now and drink often aisle, nice heft and the tannins are polished, leading to a lengthy finish. Gamey, herbal and earthy complexity help you get your head around the blueberry and black berry fruit that dominates the mid-palate, while the striking acidity keeps the wine in complete balance for the total package. Selling for a SRP of $29, it's great juice for this price point, it really over delivers and came dressed to impress.

10. 
Graham's Six Grapes Old Vines Port: You always need to save room for dessert and what would my blog be without a recommendation on one the tastier options for after dinner than this Fonseca Ruby style port, ready to dress up that pumpkin pie. A wine produced using advanced piston fermentation called, "port toes" and aged four years in neutral wood before being bottled. 

You can find this wine selling for about $20 or less most places. In the glass you can expect an opaque purple leaning toward a deep red colored edge. Sticking you nose the glass expect a raft of compact, intense, blackcurrant and cherry aromas. After the first slurp, wow nice, a fully expressive but firm, plump fruit flavors stretched over mellow tannin structure and a lasting finish.

From my house to yours this holiday season, here's to a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving:; and whatever you do, I hope you uncork some great holiday memories, until next time sip long and prospers cheers!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Champagne Blanc de Blanc: Mumm is the Word

"Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector. It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully." -- Graham Greene

Some say "Grease is the Word" but in this case, with this brilliant Champagne I think someone may want to rewrite the song. Here's my suggested rewrite, what-do-ya think?
"They think our love is just a growin' pain….Why don't they understand? It’s just a cryin' shame…..Their lips are lyin', only real Champagne is Champagne…...stop the fight right now, we all know how it makes us feel - Mumm is the word!"
Today's Wine of the Week: G.H. Mumm "Mumm de Cramant" Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne is one beautiful Blanc de Blanc, which easily shows off its lacy sumptuous texture immediately, mad sex appeal found here. I'm so glad I avoided enjoying this Champagne in a flute and instead I enjoyed it from one of my new Bordeaux stems and yes I enjoyed this bottle with a seemingly pedestrian meal of Fish & Chips, but they did make beautiful music together. Mumm is the Word!

Here's how Mumm describes this beautiful bottle of bubbles: 
"Mumm de Cramant is a precious cuvée made in the purest Champagne tradition since 1882. A single cru cuvée of incomparable purity, blended in the time-honored tradition with a strict selection of 100% Chardonnay Cramant wines. Truly a great Champagne to grace any occasion."
Most of the time, these statements are just blah, blah, blah 'our wine is world class juice', but in this case I'd have to say I'm in 100% agreement with the statement above. This is my kind of lie detector, hook me up again and again. 



Tasting Note: You'll find this Cramant quite vibrant and creamy. Persistent, lip smacking acidity greets you with delightful flavors of fresh baked patisserie pear, bright honey-crisp apples, toasted almonds, a drop of honey and scented by acacia blossoms. This amazing juice is punctuated by a rich note of smoky minerality, quietly playing bass in the background, and a long sumptuous finish will have you thinking about opening another bottle.

Is this wine worth the price of admission? I'd like to say it succinctly and in one word, absolutely. If you'd like find out why Champagne can be so very captivating and why the word Champagne is so protected, it's because in my mind, a bottle like this one exemplifies what it means to be Champagne. There is no comparison. 

I've tasted many Champagnes and I've tasted plenty of domestic bubbly but nothing prepared me for what I'd find in this bottle. I scored this bottle 94 points, this folks is how you do it, and selling for average price of $59 at a few select retailers. Full Disclosure: This bottle was sent as a media sample. Okay that's all I've for today, I hope you have a great Wine Wednesday, pop some corks and enjoy, remember Mumm is the Word cheers!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wines of the Week: My Top Choices





"It's my contention that good food and great wines should not be the rare commodity, but rather it should be a model which we all strive to live-by!" ~ Wise Vinosapien


In the illustration above, you see a busy wine writer attempting to post his next article, the desk filled with more 'in' than 'out', it's funny how often that scenario plays out, in real life. Just this month, a couple cases have shown up on my doorstep, some expected and many, I'm not sure how or why they've arrived. I'm not the mass taster I use to be, tasting hundreds of wines and then regurgitating some notes on each wine. Now I like to slow down, take my time with a wine, so I can get to know it a bit better, a far better analysis than what just a one time impression would allow.

When it comes to my style and the way I do things, regarding wine reviews. I often like to say; it's my one man mission is to provide readers with current, objective, relatable content and hopefully even a wee-bit of entertainment about the wonderful world of wine. I'm continually spanning the globe [no really, just got back from Champagne] looking and eventually landing on the intersection of where great wine meets reasonable prices. I'm also fond of saying; "let the wine speak for itself and let the chips fall where they may" and if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I do just that. 




Now that said, today I'm doing something far too few wine-blogs [yes even the ones you may know and love, far more than the one you're reading now] are willing to do. What is that you ask? In today's wine roundup are wines I discovered via the traditional, ages old method of wine acquisition, the wines featured in today's review are wines, I paid good money, to have in my own cellar, and are selections I'm eager to recommend to each one of you. 

So instead of focusing solely on wines from public relations groups, samples and the like, today's review will be agenda free. I'm not going to make a nickel off the wines I'm promoting today, there are no advertisers here, pushing me to write this or that and there never will be, my opinion is NOT for sale. I want to bring these wines to your attention for a couple reasons, maybe even three. One, because, I like many people, really dig getting great bang for my buck, and while not all of the wines featured here in this review are inexpensive, many of them represent a fantastic value for the dollars invested. Second, these are all wines I'd happily purchase again. Especially so if the current lotto jackpot just happened to fall into my lap [wink]. 



The wine you see above is nothing but classic Burgundy, it's a wine I purchased to celebrate finding a new career path in the wine industry. It's another small step forward in the pursuit of goals to not only talk about wine here, but to expand those skills to the workplace where financial and professional rewards are both realized. Now that said, this wine is complex, textured, sporting that famous 2011 acidity [cool year] and still very taught tannins. 

I say classic, because there is abundant forest floor, think of licking wet mushrooms, or smelling a fallen tree branch that has been on the ground for weeks. Freshly cracked peppercorns and fresh summer bing cherries jamming on bass and did I say minerality? No, well there's plenty of that to go around as well. You could easily cellar this puppy for years to come, but it's enjoyable now. A word to the wise, decant is the word, sorry to disagree with the author of the wine bible, Karen McNeil who does not like to decant PN, instead she likes to see it evolve in the glass. Trust me, decant this puppy for a full flavored thrill ride. This wine is $54 and I scored it, 93 points. 



Jumping from Burgundy to Bordeaux, let's take a trip to tasty town via Chateau Teyssier, a Saint Emilion Grand Cru. This wine, of which I just ordered four more, is mind blowing good for the tiny $29 price tag. A blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc, taunt tannins stretched out over a canvas of rich black fruit, blackberry, dark plums, cassis, some rustic minerality, beautifully textured, coupled with a long finish bringing it all home. It could definitely age for much longer, 2010 was one thee very best recent vintages in Bordeaux and in this bottle, you find out why that is true. My score 91 points. This is case purchase territory. 



I discovered this label on my very first wine blogging trip, one which I paid for, I was not a junketeer by stretch back in 2008. Nonetheless, the winemaker was a gracious host, inviting Mrs. Cuvee and I into his house, grabbing some pecorino cheese and a baguette and pouring his wines, we chatted for a few hours, and taking a quick tour of his property, we both quickly realized this was some of the best wines we've ever had before. I predicted back then, this label would reach super-star status and it has, but the prices have not shot as much as their winemaking fame has. I found the 2005 Pian Dell' Orino Brunello silky smooth on the palate, just a great mouth feel, but a bit more rustic than the great 2004 I brought back home. Still an amazingly authentic wine with real soul and substance, decant for an hour or more.

This wine was still in barrel when at the time of my visit, but seeing it in a wine store, I knew I had to have it. I found it wonderfully balanced, with good acidity and bonus Biodynamic farming practices to boot, way back in the day, before it was a buzzword. In a nutshell I would say that the wines made at Pian Dell' Orino offer the average vinosapien, an excellent picture into the heart of Brunello , lovely aromatics a have mouthwatering acidity, and a long finish. What more could you ask for? My score for this wine is 94 points, it sells for $59 most places. 


For those of you reading this, and fainting dead away because most of the prices above are more than $9.99, please stick around, because this is your wine. It's also one I've purchased a case of myself, an extraordinary Italian table wine, that is truly authentic, and possesses both soul and substance for just $9.99. I scored this wine 91 points, yes you heard me right, so if you want an authentic Italian wine experience without having to fly to Italy, than this is your wine. The perfect pizza wine. Great acid, beautiful light plums, floral, minerality, meaty strawberry and medium tannins. Drink now and drink often!





Another gem, I pulled from the collection a few weeks back. This wine for me, represents the joy of collecting wine and enjoying it later. I remember uncorking this bottle, and showing the label to Mrs. Cuvee. It brought back fond memories of our trip to Sonoma, where we met some like minded wine friends and had an opportunity to meet one of the few remaining Seghesio family matriarchs. Moments in time, captured by a bottle of wine, with good friends and amazing wine making trail blazers. This wine was inky, dark and brooding in the glass, throwing sediment you could see staining the side of decanter as it was poured. 

Blackberry, cassis. dark plums, blueberries, underbrush, painted across still taunt tannins, and just enough acid to carry the abundant upfront fruit. This wine is very textured, layer upon layer, opening up and evolving over the course of the evening. The San Lorenzo vineyard was purchased in 1896 by Frank Passalacqua for the sum of ten gold coins. The deed indicated a young vineyard most likely planted in 1890 and planted almost entirely with Zinfandel, but 17% of it's Petite Sirah and only bottled as this single varietal in very good years. It sells for $49.99 to $59.99 they were generous to extend the standard industry discount. I walked out this place with nearly a case. My score for this gem, 94 points. 


I acquired this wine last year, while on a quick press trip to the Napa Valley. I love 100% Cabernet Franc or near 100% wines so much, I purchased this wine at full price, their proceeds go to charity and they only offer industry discounts to other winery owners or employees. It's also owned by a nonprofit foundation that was founded to benefit international cardiovascular research. 

 A wonderfully vibrant, wine, packed like a summer picnic basket, the perfume of lavender and spice swirling around the top of the glass, and fresh raspberry, fig and blackberry fruit are easily carried by mouthwatering acidity and well-embedded structure. Lots of anise, spice on the finish. A tremendous wine, from a producer that turns many heads, with a near cult like following. This wine sells for $59 most places, I scored it 91 points. It's not thee most compelling CF, I've encountered, but neither would I kick it out of bed in the morning.



Another very good 2010, but a bit more of a modern style Bordeaux. Still it has a lovely vein of acid, which keeps the abundant red and dark fruit in check. Medium tannins and finish. Drinks like an mid to high priced Napa Valley Cab, which sells for half that price $29.99. With this kind of stellar QPR, you could easily buy 6 or [I know I have] more, and enjoy for years to come. 

Okay there you have it folks, seven more wines reviewed without anything being in it for me, my only hope is that you'll seek a few of these wines out for yourself now, or in the new future. Until next time folks remember, life is truly short, you never know when you may be uncorking that last bottle, so make it a good and please don't settle for ordinary commodity wines, slurp long and prosper cheers!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Paso Robles Uncorked

“Traveling; first it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” ~ Ibn Battuta

Many folks are starting to think about late fall vacations and or weekend getaway plans, and who can blame you, especially if you plan to be in California next weekend? So if your travel plans happen to involve visiting wine country, may heartily suggest to a trip to one of my favorite wine destinations in California, none the other than Paso Robles. 

A great little town, just north of Santa Barbara County, easily located right off highway 101. If you plan to leave from San Diego, may I suggest an early AM Sunday launch time, if not then take the I-5 and crossover on the 46W, it may take a bit longer, but you'll thank me later. 

Mrs. Cuvee and I go to Paso Robles pretty frequently, not as much as we would like to, but we were fortunate enough to visit twice last year, we always enjoy the great hospitality and the friendly down-to-earth small town feel. We had such a good time, discovered some new favorites and became reacquainted with others. We found a few new places to eat and also found a great spot to grab some sack time after a long day on the wine trail.

I've recently been asked by a couple of my friends, to recommend what I like to call hot-spots for wine-ing and dining. So what you have below, is a small, but well thought out list of some of my favorite wineries I like to visit, where I've purchased more than a few bottles and will definitely be back to see them, the next time I'm in town. I've also included places to stay and fun places to grab a bite. Btw, if you didn't know, many restaurants in town, will offer free corkage for any Paso Robles wine purchased from one of the wineries. But I'd check with them first, with a quick phone call, to confirm the policy. 



"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." -Robert Louis Stevenson #whywetravel

Per Cazo: Just call ahead to let them know you'd like to visit. Their Petite Sirah is flat out amazing, a real high-light. A sit-down tasting is just the thing and the pairing with the cheese is excellent.

Tablas Creek [Rhone Zone] So many favorites it's hard to name just one.

Justin: The Savant and Justification [100% First-Run Cabernet Franc] are among my favorites each year.

Alta Colina: Their Syrah really takes flight, oh-my.

Bodegas Paso Robles [downtown tasting room] Some very good Spanish wines, I highly recommend giving a swirl, don't doubt this tip.

Lone Madrone: Their Tannat is among my favorite wines being offered, along with their outstanding 2006 Bolla, a 100% Nebbiolo. Tablas Creek and LM share the same winemaker.

Calcareous: Driving up [the long and winding road] to the tasting room, leaves little doubt about where winery got its name. Again the views from this winery are quite stunning and you'll love Syrah and Grenache. 

Herman Story: Tasting room on the east side of tracks in town. You’ll will easily get into the nuts and bolts of why their Grenache is so fantastic and other Rhone-Zone favorites not to be missed. 

Jada: Another Rhone-Zone stop that will not disappoint. Ask for the "Passing By" it's sensational juice.

DAOU: The view from the tasting room is quite stunning and the wines ranging from Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon are all quite good. You may even meet Daniel, their winemaker who's often found in the tasting room entertaining guests. All of their wines are 100% free-run.

Sextant Wines: Is just to the south in SLO, but worth the drive, so worth it. If you visit their Edna Valley tasting-room, you simply must do the cheese and wine pairing, you won't regret it. There are so many great wine choices here; it’s hard to pick just one.

Turley: If you like Zinfandel, then a trip to Zinfandel Lane is the place to be. Many of the 2008's are tasting fantastic at the moment. You have to be a member to purchase wines outside the tasting room. So if you go, prepare to take as many with you as possible.


“A great wine is not the work of one man, it is the result of a tradition that is upheld and refined”, wrote Paul Claudel.

L'Aventure Winery Stephen does an amazing job, please don't miss an opportunity for a visit, you'll be tempted to take cases of his wine home. But your wallet may have a hard time accepting that idea. 

Kenneth Volk Vineyards: Which shares a tasting room with Lone Madrone, a two for one bonus. Again another stop not to be missed.

Linne Calodo Cellars: A winery known for producing seven to ten blends per year; some are heavy in Zinfandel, while others rest in a more traditional Rhone blending style. Visits are by appointment only, but worth the effort.

Denner Vineyards [Make an appointment] the owner Ron Denner is a great, the wines produced there, are in many cases stellar! Rhone-Zone and some very nice Cabernet Sauvignon as well, like the Mother of all Exiles. 

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines The tasting room is located in what resembles an old school house. I know this is huge brand, if you are already a fan, a visit will only further cement that sentiment. One of the few east-side wineries I recommend. 

RN Estate: Please don't miss an opportunity to visit Roger and the beautiful RN Estate [the view is amazing], call-ahead or email for the sit-down tasting. You can expect to find alluring Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir and unique Paso blends, just waiting to tempt your taste-buds. 

Pithy Little Wine Company It's a fun tasting experience and they have a GSM [Elephant in the Room] which is out of this world-good.



Now if you want to go to Opolo [okay] their Summit Zinfandel is very big, super aggressive [high abv] but blackberry jam tasty. If you happen to visit on a Saturday they often [not always] have a barbeque just out-side the wide tasting room entry way, with many tasty treats that in my opinion pair ever so nicely with the wines being offered to sample.

Dining Options: 

The Paso Robles Inn: Is a great place to grab a steak for dinner or to have that evening night-cap. Bonus: If you bring a bottle of Paso Robles Wine with you to dinner they waive corkage and the best spot in town for a quick hardy breakfast. 

Cow Girl Cafe: Great for Breakfast and very large portions.

Artisan: Wow fine-dining to be had here, a great place to eat, they have a little bit of everything, with a reasonable corkage fee.

Bistro Laurent and Wine Shop: Wow, if you bring a bottle of wine in, they will pair a dinner around that wine. Great French style and flavors at its best. 

Il Cortile Ristorante: One of the very best Italian dining experiences, outside of Italy. Order a bottle of the Grechetto Bianco with your appetizers.

Thomas Hill Organics: Farm to table at its best. But please be advised [IMO] the portions are small and they don't offer bread. If you want my advice order some appetizers.

Villa Creek: Has bit of everything and food is freaking amazing.

Now if you're looking for some low-key dining options, there are also many to be easily found in and around the downtown [aka, the park] square, along with great local bars to help quench your thirst. 


Where to stay:

For me I like to stay at the Paso Robles Inn and I always choose the spa rooms. Everything downtown is within easy walking distance from the Inn, the pricing is reasonable. Do be aware that the natural spring Spa-Waters do have an uncomfortable smell, but once you put in the bath-aroma they offer, it's pretty fantastic. And as a bonus free wi-fi is offered.

If you do choose to stay there, ask for the rooms with the balcony over the big conference room. These rooms offer more privacy, more square feet, comfy beds, etc. If you want to use the spa, it takes at least 30 min for the tub to fill-up. And don't bother with the instructions, they seem to be a bit out of date.


Now if you want a more upscale experience [there are many to choose from], Per Cazo has a lovely bed and breakfast, nice and quiet. The rooms are well appointed and logistically it's much closer for visiting wineries. They're located about 15-20 min outside of town. 

I hope you find these recommendations helpful, please let me know how they turn out for you. Until next time, here's to travel and exploration, sip long and prosper cheers!

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