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Posts Tagged ‘Paso Robles’

White Wines for Christmas

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Rhône-style Whites for Christmas


White Wines for Christmas Dinner

White Wines for Christmas Dinner

If you are looking for white wines for Christmas but dread having to drink another bottle of Chardonnay, then you should turn to Rhône Valley-inspired whites. Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc are four popular and food-friendly options. By drinking outside the box this Christmas season, you’ll start a new tradition while discovering some amazingly delicious wines.

Of the four, Viognier is the most well-known and most likely to be produced as a single-variety bottle. It has a very aromatic peach nose and taste, followed by Springtime honeysuckle and lime. A medium- to full-bodied wine, Viognier holds up nicely to food.


Get with the Blend
Wines for Christmas

Wines for Christmas

Many Americans tend to think that blends, two or more wines combined to produce a single wine, are inferior. This false perception is fueled by the predominance of wines produced as a single variety in America. However, in Old World wine regions, blends are the norm.

In the Rhône Valley, Roussanne and Marsanne are integral blends in the production of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage wines. In the esteemed northern Rhône Côte-Rôtie region, up to 20% Viognier is added to Syrah. Southern Rhône winemakers blend up to 10 different wines, and on occasion more.


Christmas Dinner Selections

Christmas Wines

These Rhône-inspired whites are superb wines for Christmas dinner:

  • Tablas Creek Vineyard, located in Paso Robles, focuses a lot of their blends on Rhône-style wines. Their 2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc is made using Roussanne primarily.  The wine’s taste brings back memories of a summer day with citrus, apricot and white peaches.  The abundant minerality allows it to pair well with Christmas foods including seafood appetizers such as shrimp or a main salmon dish.  $45
  • Santa Barbara County winery Beckmen Vineyards 2011 Le Bec Blanc gives a bow to France with a blend of  Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier.  At only $18, it offers all the classic flavors noted above.
  • E. Guigal La Doeriane Viognier (Condrieu, France) This is a quintessential 100% Viognier that’s a little pricey at $100 but worth it if you can drink in this neighborhood.
  • I started drinking wines from this producer about four years ago and have never been disappointed. The 2012 Cline Cellars Viognier has lush honeysuckle, white peach and ripe pear flavors. It pairs well with turkey and gravy. Priced near $16, it’s not an overly complex wine but carries enough acidity to earn a spot at the dinner table.

Merry Christmas!

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The Newest California AVAs

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California Gets 13 New AVAs

California Gains More AVAs

California Gains More AVAs

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is granting new American Viticulture Areas (AVA’s) with the same frequency that Biogenesis distributes steroids to professional athletes. In 2012, there were 206 registered AVA’s in the United States. During the past couple of years, that number has increased markedly.

Many states, including North Carolina new AVA designations. But California, already home to more than 50% of all AVAs, is leading the pack. The most recent additions include the new AVA called Eagle Peak Mendocino County,  11 new sub-AVAs, all part of the Paso Robles AVA, as well as, Malibu Coast.


The Newest California AVAs

Beginning on November 10, growers will be able to label wines produced in the Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA with the new moniker. The new region encompasses approximately 26,260 acres. It is part of the greater North Coast AVA, located about 125 miles north of San Frsmcisco. As strange as it may sound, despite the name, Eagle Peak Mendocino County AVA is not situated within the already-established Mendocino AVA, nor is it a sub-region. Thankfully, Eagle Peak Mountain, a prominent topography feature, and rising 2,700 feet above sea level is delimited to the region.

The distinguishing characteristics include a marine influence climate, strong breezes, shallow soils with low-holding water capabilities, and a mountainous terrain.


Central Coast
Ocean Breezes & Fog

Vines Love Ocean Breezes & Fog

Paso Robles, in its quest for new sub-regions wins the prize for the longest and most detailed proposal ever filed with the TTB. Paso may have been feeling like the Rodney Dangerfield of wine regions. Prior to the establishment of the new AVA’s, Paso Robles was the largest undivided AVA within California. In comparison, the Napa Valley, which is two thirds smaller, currently has 11 sub-appellations. Now, the two prominent regions are even. Paso Robles AVA Map

With the division in place, the hope is winemakers will be able to show the diversity of the soil and weather of each region, in essence the terroir. The distinguishing attributes also include average annual rainfall ranging from 11 to 29 inches and altitude rising from 600 feet to over 2,400 feet above sea level.

Taking effect on November 10th, the 11 new sub-appellations are as follows:

  1. Adelaida District
  2. Creston District
  3. El Pomar Paso District
  4. Paso Robles Estrella
  5. Paso Robles Highlands
  6. Paso Robles Genesso
  7. Paso Robles Willow Creek
  8. San Juan Creek
  9. San Miguel district
  10. Santa Margarita Ranch
  11. Templeton Gap

The timing of this announcement is perfect as it coincides with the Paso Robles Wine Harvest Celebration on Oct 17-19.


Surf’s Up

In July, two existing AVA’s, Malibu-Newton Canyon and Saddle Rock-Malibu became sub-appellations of the new, greater Malibu Coast AVA.  With a size of approximately 44,590 acres, it includes portions of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Boundaries were also redrawn as a result of the addition. If a winery wishes to use a specific AVA name on a wine bottle label, at least 85% of the grapes must have been grown in the region.


Do Wine Drinkers Care?
Visit the Tasting Room

Visit a Winery & Taste the Difference

Winemakers in all of these new AVA’s will now have to accept the challenge of demonstrating the subtle differences to consumers. Will wine drinkers recognize and/or appreciate these hard-fought battles for new AVA status?

If nothing else, it’s a great excuse to get out and visit wine country.





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Great Wine Bargains at Trader Joe’s

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RCTJWF 2008 Zinfandel Paso Robles

R.C.T.J.W.F 2008 Zinfandel Paso Robles

Trader Joe’s Wines Rocks

I had just returned from a four-day trip to the San Antonio Wine & Food Festival where I sampled nearly 100 great and not-so-great wines.  When I got home, Stephanie had a new bottle of wine from Trader Joe’s for us to try. I reached for the bottle.  The label read RCTJWF Zinfandel Paso Robles California and I was more than curious.

I’m never one to turn down wine, and am hard pressed to find a bad Paso wine, so out comes the corkscrew.  I poured and swirled then sniffed.  Uh oh. Not much of an aroma for a Zin was my initial reaction. But that first sip. Wow! Outrageously fruit forward, with it’s jammy goodness just bursting in my mouth.

I turned the bottle around and read in fine print “Really Cool Trader Joe’s Wine Find”.  Never have truer words been written. Steph informs me that this find was only $5.00 and I immediately begin thinking how I’m going to plan my day tomorrow so I can swing by TJ’s and pick up a case. Who doesn’t love uncovering wine bargains?

We drink the remainder with grilled pork chops, baked beans and grilled corn on the cob with lime butter and chili seasoning.   The spiciness from the barbecue sauce paired nicely with the fruitiness of the Zin.  Need-less-to-say the night was a success. Read More >

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