Saturday, September 14, 2013

More Tipsy Musings -- California Central Coast, Day Two

I wrote this on Tuesday and am posting this from our hotel room in San Francisco. We're headed north today to Healdsburg, and then to Sonoma tomorrow. I really did mean to post this earlier this week, but I was busy being a psychologist rather than an oenophile. Okay, I was drinking wine as well -- in San Francisco, how can you not? -- but wasn't in the blogging frame of mind.  Due to a glitch in the Blogger app and some disagreement in the browser, some of the links are embedded, and some in parentheses after the places.

Back to the show...

When you're tasting wine in Paso Robles, there's only one number you need to know:  46, as in California Highway 46. On Monday, Hubby and I headed down CA 46 West for some tastings.  Eight to be exact. When we told people afterward, they weren't sure whether to congratulate us or put us on a liver transplant list. How much of the wines from the last few vineyards did we taste? Who knows? I got cute cat pictures, though.

We started at Turley Vineyards, home of the Zins. It seems like Zins should have an adjective in front of it like "Fighting," but let's be real -- Zin, in all its fruity glory, is a lover, not a fighter. In hindsight, it was probably not the best idea to cuddle up to a 15+% wine first thing in the morning. Granted, we'd had a good breakfast and had even stopped off for Pringles because we couldn't find a freaking grocery store anywhere -- seriously, what do you Paso Robles people do for groceries? Grow them yourselves? If that's the case, we're totally raiding your Triscuit trees next visit. Those are our wine tasting starch of choice.

Anywho, we ended up with one of the "younger" Zins, younger defined as the vines being 50 or fewer years old. Then we moved on to Red Soles, where my favorites were the 2012 Flop Flip Viognier/Chardonnay blend and the 2011 Kick-Off, a nice smooth Zinfandel, Petite Syrah blend. Since we tend to run short on whites, we got the Flop Flip.

Hubby decided we needed a breakto move on to somewhere a little farther away, so we ventured out to Tablas Creek (, which several people had recommended to us. This was where we discovered how well Paso Robles does Rhone grapes. I liked a lot of their wines, the highlights of which were:

2010 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc:  60% Roussanne, 35% Grenache Blanc, 5% Picpoul Blanc
Okay, so first, kudos for planting the Picpoul, one of my favorite whites. This one had nice, light fruit with honeysuckle overtones. Trust me, I'm from Georgia, where honeysuckle pops up in the middle of one's garden completely uninvited. If I say it's nice, it means it's nice. This one is named for the estate in France they have a partnership with.

2011 Mourvedre: It's a 100% Mourvèdre, and no, we're not sharing the bottle we bought.

2010 Esprit de Beaucastel: 45% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache Noir, 21% Syrah, 4% Counoise
Is it just me, or does talking about Counoise make one feel slightly dirty? Seriously, it sounds like a French euphemism for something naughty. Either way, this was a lovely blend with a little more tannin but still very good.

Then we moved on down the road to Oso Libre (, which translates to "free bear." We didn't see any bears, but they do raise black Angus cows. I couldn't help but envision a pre-emptive pairing:

The Oso Libre tasting room is a refreshing change from the somber wood, glass windows to the barrel room style of most California rooms. They blast country music (okay, I wasn't so much into that part) and have a sort of diner-themed motif:

The wine highlights included:

2011 Volado Viognier:  good and fruity balanced out by nice floral notes

2005 Jovis Sangiovese:  great smooth fruit

2005 Revolucion Syrah:  velvety and fruity

2011 Carnal GSM: very good and smooth

NV Primoroso, Winemaker's Blend:  interesting layers of flavor

We bought a bottle of the GSM.
One thing that's imperative to know about Highway 46 West is that apparently the county has cracked down on wineries serving food, so alas, most of the places listed with food on the wine country map don't have food at the moment. This includes Grey Wolf and Cypher. 

We did taste at Grey Wolf (, where we were served by an elderly lady whom Hubby decided reminded him of John's Grandma in the Garfield comic. In other words, she's got plenty of attitude and might ride a Harley home. I didn't get a picture of her but did get one of Jake the cat, who was not interested in me or much of anything:

The wine highlights there included:

2011 Pretty Girl Pink, a nice rose blend of Cab, Zin, Grenache, and Syrah.

2011 Barton Simple Man Zin:  nice and fruity but not too heavy

2010 Lineage:  a nice blend of 60% Cab Sauv, 15% Carmenere, 15% Malbec, 5% Merlot, and 5% Cab Franc.

We took a Pretty Girl home with us. Wine, you pervs. We're not into that kind of thing.

Then it was seeking food, for realz. The only place allowed to serve food on the 46 West corridor is Aron Hill Vineyards ( Luckily they're pretty cool and have a nice tasting room. I particularly enjoyed:

The PrimRose. It's not a white Zin, it's a dry white Primitivo. Totally different!

2006 Primitivo:  this was a dry year, and something nearby burned, so there's a little smokiness to it

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon:  lighter than they would have liked, but still good.

We didn't buy anything there -- room is getting scarce in Bertha the wine safe. Josh and Nicole in the tasting room were great, and he gave us some recommendations for the rest of the day. He also had me sign one of my book postcards and took a picture with me for his website.

Then it was off to Peachy Canyon ( because, being from Georgia, we had to make sure they were indeed peachy. I'm not sure if they're truly Peachy, but they were definitely Zinny. I particularly liked the 2011 Snow Zinfandel (not Snot Zinfandel, which my iThing just tried to make it), 2011 Mustard Creek Zinfendel, and the 2012 Rose. I also enjoyed petting the cat Peaches, who was slightly more awake than the aforementioned Jake:

Our final stop was Cypher Winery (, which had also been recommended to us. They also had a cool red, black, and white tasting room:

The highlight for me there was the Freakshow "Peasant" GSM, which should actually be an MGS to reflect the percentages of grapes in it.

By that time, our palates were fatigued beyond belief, as were we, so although we had time to hit a few more, we opted to head back into town and meet up with Matt and Annie Browne. Matt tweets as Matthew Liberty (, and he was instrumental in guiding us to the best wineries for us among the 200+ in the area.  He and Annie were also online "on call" for other questions for us while we were here, and I can't express how much we appreciated their advice. We even found a new wine club to join, but more on that tomorrow.

We met up with Matt and Annie at La Cosecha (www.lacosechabr), a cute Spanish/South American restaurant and had drinks since we were still stuffed from our 3:00 lunch at Aron Hill. Then Hubby and I headed to La Cosecha's sister restaurant, an Italian place around the corner from our hotel called Il Cortile ( We'd been told to try the beef carpaccio, which we'd never been brave enough to do before. It was served with a creamy truffle sauce and shaved truffles. Then I enjoyed the beef cheek tortelloni and finished up with the chocolate lava cake. We sat outside, and the lighting wasn't right for photos. We also shared a bottle of Terry Hoage red, but the wine list crashed the web site, so I can't tell you which one.


Peachy Canyon said...

Thanks again for stopping by, Cecilia! Eight wineries is certainly an impressive number of tastings in a day, palate fatigue is excused.

By the way, the grocery stores are all in the "newer" residential areas, the closest to the wine areas is on Niblick. I wish we grew all our own food, but alas, we only get veggies, eggs, (from the winery) and persimmons (from the tasting room trees) ... The triscuits we have to buy like everyone else!

Cecilia Dominic said...

Thanks for stopping by the blog! And thank you for the heads-up on the grocery stores. We were seriously wondering what y'all do for the food you can't grow yourself.