A highlight of our Wine Bloggers Conference pre-conference excursion to Paso Robles was an evening with the Paso Robles Cab Collective hosted by Daou Vineyards and Winery. Now know as Daou Mountain, it is the site of the former Hoffman Mountain Ranch, widely considered to be the birthplace of modern winemaking in Paso Robles. It’s natural beauty is breathtaking.
Paso Robles is the largest and most diverse wine region in California. The wines display intense varietal character due in part to the large swing between warm days and cool nights. With a longer growing season, Paso Robles wine grapes have more hang time. These growing conditions allow later ripening varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre to reach full maturity.
There are more than 40 varieties of grapes grown in Paso, but the most widely planted red is Cabernet with plantings in 39% of the vineyards. The Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective is a grass-roots group aiming to promote Paso Robles age-worthy, balanced and classic Cabernet and red Bordeaux varieties to consumers and media.
There are 28 members of the CAB Collective and 17 were pouring wine for our crew of about 40 wine bloggers. The all-star lineup included Adelaida Cellars, Ancient Peaks, Bon Niche Cellars, Calcareous Vineyard, Cass Vineyard & Winery, Chateau Margene, Daou Vineyards & Winery, HammerSky, Hunt Cellars, J. Lohr Vineyards, Jada Vineyard & Winery, Justin, Le Vigne, Parrish Family Vineyard, Red Soles Winery, Sextant Wines and Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery.
The diurnal temperature swing was in full evidence at the tasting, as a chilly wind began to blow. The tables were arrayed outside, affording a sweeping view of golden hills. To take in this view while sipping some of the world’s premier Cabernet – well, it is a majestic experience.
Within the last several months leading up to the wine bloggers conference, I have had several chances to taste Paso Robles Cabs. Cabernets by Justin, Eberle and J. Lohr impressed me with the rich, full flavors and value in comparison with Napa. The CAB Collective tasting was a chance to fully explore the Paso Cab experience and it was indeed a full-on collage of masterful winemaking.
There were many impressive bottles and here are some highlights:
Villa San-Juliette 2010 Romantique – A red blend of Malbec, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Elegant with raspberry and mocha.
Ancient Peaks 2010 Oyster Ridge – Their best wine, a blend of Cab, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Sirah. An impressive wine from what I had considered to be a value producer.
Parrish Family 2009 Silken – 66% Cabernet, 30% Petite Sirah and 4% Petit Verdot. Blackberry and creamy vanilla. Soft tannins.
HammerSky 2010 Party of Four – The “party” grapes are Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet. Deep rich with black fruit and leather.
Cass 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – I enjoyed a glass of this with the delicious short rib entrée from Daou. A knockout of a wine with 76% Cabernet, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Concentrated cherry flavors with a pleasant acidity and taut tannins. A world-class Cab!
My conclusion for the evening was simple: Everyone should be drinking Paso Robles wines right now – the passion and creativity shows with each glass. Cabernet and Bordeaux blends are Paso Robles strengths and each bottle will be a delight for you to discover.