Hot Wine Deal! 2005 Opolo Fusion

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Hot Wine Deals | 1 Comment

opolo_fusion_2005

We're all about value over here… sometimes that means buying cheap wine that will surprise you, sometimes that means buying mid-priced wine that tastes expensive, and sometimes (today will be one of those times) it means buying mid-priced, expensive-tasting wine so cheap you won't believe your eyes.

Have you met Opolo? I have! I've been to their winery and came home with a bottle of this stuff (among others). I liked Opolo so much I also went to a winemaker dinner here in town so I could have some more without the drive to Paso Robles!

Today, while scouring the web for great deals, I came across this one and said… BINGO! So if you like balanced, well-made California fruit-forward red wines you can have a bingo, too!

2005 Opolo Fusion (49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Syrah, 2% Petite Verdot) from Paso Robles.
Release price: $37.50. Sale price: $21.99. There's a “member-only” price, too.

Trust me, if you're thinking about this wine, register for an account so you can see the low low price they're offering to their registered shoppers.

GET IT HERE

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Lone Madrone Winery – Paso Robles Wine Tasting

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wine Tasting Trips | 3 Comments
lone-madrone-logo

Their name comes from a lone Madrone tree in a vineyard under which workers eat their lunches.

I consider living in California to be one of life's great pleasures (I know not everyone agrees) so I spend a great deal of time driving around and enjoying any parts I can get to whenever I can get to them. I was visiting my Dad near Monterey last week and planned to take Hwy 101 all the way back to LA… which means driving through Paso Robles!! I, being the lover of wine and California wine country that I am, just HAD to stop in for a tasting. Planning ahead, I asked my Twitter followers for a suggestion and the ever-so-helpful Twitterer for Alta Colina suggested I try Lone Madrone, quite close to Hwy 101 and therefore convenient for this tasting side-trip. It was a fabulous recommendation.

When I go out to a tasting room, I'm looking for the following things to make my experience even better than just the wine…

  1. Easy access to the tasting room from the parking area (it's often hot out there)
  2. Friendly and prompt greeting by the staff
  3. Nice decorations and/or stuff for sale (good to look at between tastes, especially if the room is crowded)
  4. A very long bar area for tastings (nothing worse than a cramped tasting)
  5. Knowledgable and still-friendly staff even after the tasting has begun (rarely is this criteria not met in the Paso area)
  6. GOOD WINE!
  7. More than 5 wines to taste. I don't like it when the tasting room experience is micro-managed. Wineries: I've come a great distance to sample your wares, please give me a large sampling so I can accurately judge whether or not I want to create a relationship with you  (as a consumer OR as a blogger).
  8. Quick checkout, whether I'm only paying for my tasting or I'm buying several bottles
  9. A nice outdoor area where I feel welcome to wander around and enjoy wine country while I sober up
Lone Madrone, Paso Robles, CA

Lone Madrone, Paso Robles, CA

windmill-welcome

The charm begins with a windmill

Lone Madrone delivered on all of these expectations! It's a charming winery run by a brother-sister team who are focused on sourcing grapes from earth-friendly growers. The winemaker:

“Neil Collins has been making the wines and tending to the vineyard operations for Tablas Creek Vineyards since 1998. The wines he produces for Tablas Creek are among the best Rhone varietals produced in California, and he brings this same passion and quest for excellence to his own Lone Madrone wines. Neil honed his craft in the cellars and vineyards of two prestigious California Central Coast operations, Wild Horse Winery and Adelaida Cellars, where he served as a winemaker for five years.”

The wines were consistently surprising (in a good way) and unique. It opened my taste buds to some varietals I'd never tried before, or had only had as part of a blend where the wines lost the character of the grapes that comprised them. The little birdie at Alta Colina told me they make some interesting red blends, and she was right!

wisteria-welcome-2

A Wisteria Welcome

vineyard

Beautiful adjacent hillside vineyard

Lone Madrone was offering a generous tasting list last Tuesday, so I spent plenty of time enjoying a great variety of wines. Here's what I tasted and what I thought (and bought).

2007 Lone Madrone La Mezcla, $25 per bottle

What they say: A Spanish influenced blend of Garnaca Blanca (Grenache Blanc) and Albarino, La Mezcla rings bright in the nose with aromas of pear, green apple, lime and straw with a hint of stone fruit. In the mouth, the blend tastes brilliantly balanced with crisp acidity and a rich mid-palate that finishes with a little Grenache Blanc tannin. Try it with oysters, clams, ceviche, or just by itself on a hot day! Grape source: Dawson Creek Vineyard, El Pomar, Templeton.

What Jess said: Clean, smooth mouthfeel with unique flavors from the different grapes. A little green fruit in the mid-palate, and a bit of applesauce. A lightly acidic finish (probably the aforementioned tannin). I found it to be a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc which can get boring after a while. I bought a bottle of this and am looking forward to cracking it!

tasting-room

Inside the charming tasting room

2007 Lone Madrone Points West White, $32 per bottle

What they say: This golden hued wine shows a luscious bouquet of honeydew melon, sweet pear, anda  tinge of anise spice. Rich viscosity drives the palate which finishes long, and with a pleasant minerality. Try it with a variety of seafood, spicy cuisine, and even certain chocolates! This white Rhone blend features Roussane picked from three West-side Paso Robles vineyards.

What Jess said: Very unique white wine. Seems like a full-bodied white, but with no oak or butter that I'm used to from Chardonnays. There's a lovely honey taste throughout… so unique and palate-pleasing. A little bit of apple in the finish for me.  If I weren't limiting my purchases for space reasons, I would have bought a couple bottles of this one. It would make a great alternative to Chardonnay.

2007 Lone Madrone Picpoul Blanc, $32 per bottle

What they say (in Haiku no less!): lemon drop, wet stone / sweet apple, a hint of pear / rich, viscous palate. Glenrose Vineyard Fruit.

What Jess said: Bright nose, like a mild Sauvignon Blanc. Dry mid-palate and long dry finish.

2003 Il Toyon Nebbiolo, $25 per bottle

What they say: The 2003 Nebbiolo might be just the perfect wine for your next Mediterranean meal! Its enticing nose of strawberry, ruby red grapefruit, cassis, and menthol is laced with hints of cranberry, white pepper and pomegranate. Firm tannins give this earthy wine authority on the palate, and at the table as well, next to a hearty lasagna or moussaka. Salute! Grapes sourced from a winery up on Peachy Canyon Rd.

What Jess said: I'm not a fan of Nebbiolo… so take my lack of descriptiveness as a reflection of not relating to the wine. Dry and earthy with a strong taste of cherry. A light-to-medium-bodied red.

2006 Lone Madrone Barfandel, $45 per bottle

What they say: Never mind the name, it's the nose you'll want to first contemplate; a dark, smoky briar-fruit haven for your olfactory! The vibrant aromas of blackberry and boysenbeery accompanied by a smidge of tar pave the road for the full-bodied palate of this Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Barbera blend. Edifying tannins complimented with ideal acidity delight the mouth and finish with a pleasant, almost nostalgic, vestige of oak.

What Jess said: Smell of soil or dirt and fruit on the nose. I tend to be sensitive to smells that remind me of soil and the ocean, especially in wines from the Paso Robles area. The wine was acidic on the mid-palate, tannic at the back of the mouth, and had a fairly short finish for a big red.

2004 Lone Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon, $42.50 per bottle

What they say: Big, rich, structured, this wine shows a dark ruby purple hue in the glass. Lots of black cherry, blackberry, and cassis with notes of tobacco and vanilla. This wine has a pleasant oak influence which blends beautifully with the massive dark fruit and leads to an everlasting finish. Fruit from Chelle Mountain Vineyard.

What Jess said: “Stings” my nose with dark fruit. It doesn't taste like a Cab to me (one of my favorite varietals), though it hints at it. What it DOES taste like to me is a wine that comes from the Paso Robles area (the terroir is distinctive). My other notes include cherry and dry. I like my Cabs with a little cherry in them and I definitely like them dry, but something here didn't work for me.

2006 Lone Madrone Baily Ranch Zinfandel, $40 per bottle

What they say: Gold Medal, 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Vibrant red fruit thrice over, and with conviction! Candied red apple, ollalieberry and cherry aromas, with notes of pepper and nutmeg, lead to a full, juicy red fruit palate supported by youthful tannins. Days of flavor slowly fade to a receding tide of crushed red fruit specked with red apple peel and pomegranate. Produced with fruit from the beautiful, certified organic and dry-farmed vineyard of David Bailey.

What Jess said: WOW. That's what I said. The most beautiful color, an entertaining Syrah-like nose, and the Zinfandel was restrained (SO unusual for Paso Robles Zins) but present. A LOVELY wine that I willingly spent the $40 on. We're saving it to christen our next vacation!

Also check out the reviews for the winery on Yelp

roosters

Awesome rooster sculptures out front

Buying Wine by Region and Year

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wine Tasting Notes | 2 Comments

About a year ago I decided to try an experiment. It was this: use the Wine Spectator region/year rating system to pick out wines even when I've never heard of the vineyard or winemaker (which constitutes at least 90% of wines I encounter). I can honestly say I've never been disappointed with this wine-buying method.

vintage-chart-wine-spectator

The Vintage Ratings Chart at Wine Spectator (subscription required to view the chart)

Here are some example region-vintage combinations that I like, and the full list of winners as decided by Wine Spectator (who I trust for their wine reviews explicitly… better than Parker in my opinion).

  • Australia: Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale 2003-2005
  • Spain: Ribera del Duero 2004-2005
  • California Pinot Noir: Anderson Valley 2003-2005, Sonoma 2004, Santa Barbara 2004
  • California Cabernet Sauvignon: Napa 2004-2005 and (in my experience) you can never go wrong with a Cabernet from Alexander Valley in Sonoma
  • California Syrah: Napa 1999-2006, Paso Robles 2004 and 2006, Sonoma 2002-2006
  • Washington: 2005 and 2006

I keep this short list in mind as I peruse wine lists in restaurants and when I go to wine stores. This helps me pick out the best bargains. It's led me to some of my favorites including:

  • 2004 Vina Santurnia, Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, Spain
  • 2004 and 2005 Peter Lehmann Shiraz, from McLaren Vale, Australia (ok in all fairness, a friend brought a bottle of this over for dinner, bit I've continued to test the vintage/region combination and am pleased with it)
  • 2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon, from Washington

Last week I was out for happy hour with a friend at my favorite wine bar in town (Bodega Wine Bar in Santa Monica) and I ordered a bottle I'd never heard of, but it was a 2005 Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero and since I love that Vina Santurnia I figured it was worth a shot. We both enjoyed the wine!

Try this! If you don't have a Wine Spectator online subscription and you don't want to purchase one just to get your hands on this list, I found pre-printed copies of it at my favorite local wine store… yours might have them, too. It's called the Vintage Ratings chart.

A visit to the Ortman Family Vineyards tasting room

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wine Tasting Trips | 1 Comment

At least a year ago, Mitch and I had dinner at a great restaurant in one of my favorite local hotels. It's a seafood restaurant called Catch and it's located in the Hotel Casa del Mar in Santa Monica (beachfront, of course). Sometimes when we go to nice restaurants we like to ask the waiter for a suggestion on the wine, since they usually know better than we do what the wines are like. Our fantastic waiter (who had an equally fantastic assistant waiter) chose an Ortman Pinot Noir for us and we loved it. We loved it so much that it went on my list of wineries to visit when we get up to Paso Robles… and so we did.

Ortman Family Vineyards

Ortman Family Vineyards

The lovely tasting room is located in the middle of downtown Paso Robles (1317 Park Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446), a few doors down from Artisan (the restaurant we brunched at right before starting our tasting adventure for the day). The woman pouring the tasting was friendly and knowledgeable and was proud to be working for this winery. That's a great start to any tasting!

From one of their brochures

The Ortman Family: Chuck, Matt, and Lisa

The Ortman Family: Chuck, Matt, and Lisa

“We specialize in artisan wines crafted in the acclaimed “Ortman style,” which is founded on four decades and two generations of family winemaking experience.

The Ortman style emphasizes richness, elegance, and food friendliness, as guided by the father-and-son winemaking team of Chuck Ortman and Matt Ortman.

In order to achieve their winemaking vision, Chuck and Matt focus on varietals that excel in remarkable vineyards on California's Central Coast, including Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills, Chardonnay from Edna Valley, and Rhone-style wines from Paso Robles.”

The standard tasting fee was $6 (not charged if you purchase wine) and I think they offered souvenir glasses but they were the stemless variety of which neither Mitch nor I are fans (plus we don't have room in our tiny kitchen for more wine glasses, we already have at least 20 hanging around) so we left them behind. They also had a Reserve Tasting with a tasting fee of $10 which does include the Ortman logo Riedel glass, but does not get refunded if you purchase (at least that's the formal policy, we didn't pay for either tasting). Naturally we chose one of each so we could both sample the full selection and not be too blotto to move onto our next victim, er winery.

2007 Ortman Syrah Rose – Paso Robles, $16 per bottle, 150 cases produced

Wine bottle: Ortman Syrah Rose

Wine bottle: Ortman Syrah Rose

What they say: This wine is crafted in the tradition of the dry roses that are favored in the warmer climates of Europe for their refreshing, food-friendly qualities. A round, supple texture bursts with fresh flavors of white peach, strawberry, and cinammon. Are you tough enough to drink pink?

What Jess said: Thumbs up! It's a whole-tongue experience. A mix of sweet and dry. Playful. (I like dry roses from the Central Coast. I'm also a big fan of the Beckman Grenache Rose which should have been released by now and will soon be coming home with me.)

What Mitch said: Thumbs up! Bright clean bouquet with a fruity pucker.

2007 Ortman Chardonnay – Edna Valley, $24 per bottle, 1100 cases produced

Wine bottle: Ortman Chardonnay

Wine bottle: Ortman Chardonnay

What they say: They don't call Chuck Ortman “Mr. Chardonnay” for nothing! From Firepeak Vineyard in Edna Valley, this Chardonnay exhibits the classic Ortman style—rich yet clean and impeccably balanced. Flavors of pear, apple, guava and caramel with mineral accents and refreshing acidity.

What Jess said: Thumbs up! Grapefruit/apple/pear (green fruit, light citrus) on the nose. Caramel, milky, a little oak and vanilla in the mouth.

What Mitch said: Mild velvety slide through the mouth. Subtle fruitiness.

2006 Ortman Pinot Noir – Santa Rita Hills, $36 per bottle, 750 cases produced

Wine bottle: Ortman Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

Wine bottle: Ortman Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

What they say: From the famed Fiddlestix Vineyard. Aged for 11 months in French oak barrels (40% new). Bright and broad, with high-toned flavors of cherry, plum, spice, and creamy cola. This classically elegant Pinot Noir is made for enjoying with food. Take it for a walk on the wild side of the dinner table.

What Jess said: Smells like the ocean. Smooth at first with a long finish, but I didn't like the finish.

What Mitch said: Surprisingly dry with a very fruity punch at the finish.

2006 Ortman Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, $36 per bottle, 350 cases produced

Wine bottle: Ortman Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

Wine bottle: Ortman Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

What they say: Our passion for the Pinot Noir grape extends northward to Oregon's Willamette Valley, where we seek an inspiring contrast to our Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. The 2006 vintage comes from Temperance Hill and Parish Hill vineyards, which combine to yield a Pinot Noir with delicate complexity and firm natural structure.

What Jess said: Lighter on the nose. Tingly, nutty tannins. Reminds me of French wine (of which I have extraordinarily little experience drinking).

What Mitch said: Dry again. Puckery and acidic, but mild flavor.

2006 Ortman Sangiovese – Paso Robles, $22 per bottle, 500 cases produced

Wine bottle: Ortman Sangiovese

Wine bottle: Ortman Sangiovese

What they say: A taste of Italy from Algunas Dias Vineyard. Inspired by Matt Ortman's winemaking travels in Italy. Lively integrated flavors of raspberry, cherry, and blackberry unfold along a smooth texture. Great with pizza and pastas. Buon appetito!

What Jess said: Thumbs up! Sweet, floral, and cinammon on the nose. Fruity and smooth, probably good with poultry.

What Mitch said: Thumbs up! Bright nose. Starts with a berry explosion and fades slowly to a nice dry finish.

2005 Ortman Syrah – Paso Robles, $22 per bottle, 350 cases produced

Wine bottle: Ortman Syrah

Wine bottle: Ortman Syrah

What they say: From Brave Oak Vineyard. Toasty aromas of blueberry, violets, and raspberry jam. Round and supple, with juicy flavors of black cherry, plum, smoked bacon, and oak spice. While it's no sin to savor this yummy wine on its own, this Syrah will sing with skirt steak and lamb chops.

What Jess said: Very typical Syrah from the Paso Robles area. Delightful, light-touch, with a familiar terroir. A spicy finish.

What Mitch said: Nose goes all the way up. Minor tannins detectable, but it had a pleasant finish.

2007 Ortman Cuvee Eddy – Paso Robles, $24 per bottle, 1600 cases produced

Wine bottle: Ortman Cuvee Eddy

Wine bottle: Ortman Cuvee Eddy

What they say: Contrary to rumor, this Rhone-style blend is not named after the Iron Maiden band mascot, but rather for the swirls on our label that represent two winemaking generations coming full circle. Still, this wine does rock with big, juicy flavors of blackberry, blueberry and raspberry, mocha and vanilla bean.

What Jess said: Thumbs up! Smoky on the nose. Dusty, sweet cherry and tobacco. Reasonably smooth.

What Mitch said: Mildly abrasive nose, dry! Largely smooth with a medium-level of berry intensity.

From the Reserve Tasting…

2006 Ortman Pinot Noir – Fiddlestix Vineyard, $50 per bottle, 140 cases produced

Wine bottle: Ortman Pinot Noir Fiddlestix

Wine bottle: Ortman Pinot Noir Fiddlestix

What they say: Five barrels were selected to exemplify the quality and character of Fiddlestix Vineyard. Flavors of black cherry, wild berry, cola and spice finish with soft, juicy acidity. This Pinot Noir will age gracefully over the next several years. In the meantime, the genie in this bottle will benefit from brief decanting.

What Jess said: Smells like Fiddlehead Pinot Noirs (in addition to Fiddlehead Pinot Noirs coming from the Fiddlestix vineyard, they also make Pinot Noirs from Willamette Valley, so due to my relatively small experience with Oregon Pinot Noirs and relatively large experience with Fiddlehead wines, it shouldn't be surprising that I would make this connection). Very dry berry flavors are prominent.

What Mitch said: Berry, bright, not too dry, but sadly flat.

2003 Ortman Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley, $45 per bottle, 350 cases produced

Wine bottle: Cabernet Sauvingon

Wine bottle: Cabernet Sauvingon

What they say: Our connection to Napa Valley's premier varietal dates back to Chuck Ortman's earliest winemaking days, when he was a winemaking consultant to some of the valley's top Cabernet producers. The 2003 vintage comes from White Cottage Ranch Vineyard on Howell Mountain. It offers juicy layered flavors of black cherry, plum, and vanilla.

What Jess said: Thumbs up! Dream-inducing nose. Tastes of salty (salami!), cloves, and blueberry with a spicy-hot finish (in a good way).

What Mitch said: Thumbs up! Dancing berries on the nose. Dry, with a burnt-like finish.

2006 Ortman Petite Sirah – Wittstrom Vineyard, $38 per bottle, 68 cases produced
What they say:The 2006 Petite Sirah marks our inaugural vintage for the varietal, which joins our small family of red wines from Paso Robles. Winemaker Matt Ortman has long been a fan of Petite Sirah, and he jumped at the chance to make it when fruit from Wittstrom Vineyard became available. This vineyard occupies and idea site for Petite Sirah, yielding a wine that is big yet elegant with lusciously intense flavors.

What Jess said: Makes me want to drink it with steak. Chalky.

What Mitch said: Heavy nose, bitter berry. Heavy but smooth.

Are you an Ortman fan?
Experience the Ortman Wine Lounge
The Ortman Wine Lounge is a virtual gathering place for friends of the Ortman Family Vineyards—and that means you!
This online social community features harvest videos, winemaker blogs, upcoming events, wine specials and other news, as well as opportunities to interact with us and other fellow wine enthusiasts.
Please join the fun at www.OrtmanWineLounge.com

Join the Ortman Generation Wine Club
As an artisan family winery, we craft our wines in small lots, many of which can be difficult to find. As a member of the Ortman Generation, however, you will enjoy access to all of our wines, conveniently delivered to your home or business.
Your complimentary membership entitles you to many exclusive benefits, including:

  • Quarterly shipments of our new releases and limited-edition wines
  • 20% savings on all wine purchases
  • Invitation to our annual Ortman Generation BBQ & Bike Ride with Matt Ortman
  • Tasting fees waived for members and up to three guests
  • To join, please visit www.OrtmanVineyards.com or call us at (805) 237-9009

    A visit to the Ancient Peaks tasting room

    Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wine Tasting Trips | Comments Off on A visit to the Ancient Peaks tasting room

    On a recent trip to Paso Robles, and nearby Santa Margarita, Mitch and I stopped into the Ancient Peaks Winery tasting room.  The stop made our schedule because I've been curious about Zinfandel lately (I don't like most of what I've tried) but the Paso Robles area is known for their Zinfandel and Ancient Peaks is, too. I suppose the biggest disappointment of the visit was that the 2006 Zinfandel was sold-out. This is most likely because the annual Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival was the weekend before we arrived. Oh well, better luck next time.

    ancient-peaks-winery-logo

    The tasting fee was $5 which was a fair price for the amount of wine we tasted. No souvenir glasses here but that's okay because we're running out of room. We chose to do one of each of their available tastings, so that means one Estate Wines tasting and one Limited White Label Collection tasting. In a rather unusual turn of events, the more expensive the wine got the less we liked it. The Estate Wines seem fairly priced and would make nice table wines. The Limited White Label Collection left much to be desired considering the $35+ price-point. Here's what we tasted and what we thought about it:

    2007 Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc, $12 per bottle

    ancient-peaks-2007-sb-smallWhat they say: Vivid aromas of pear, gooseberry, and lemon zest. The pear impression continues on the palate, accompanied by integrated flavors of melon, pineapple, and green apple. The texture is bright and fresh, finishing with a crisp acidity.

    What Jess said: Nice. Light on the nose. A hint of apple. Kinda zippy… nice. Actually, it was nice enough I bought two bottles of it because at $12 a pop, it's a very nice white to have kicking around the house for salad-night.

    What Mitch said: Slightly bitter, not unpleasant, light, easy nose.

    2006 Ancient Peaks Merlot, $16 per bottle

    ancient-peaks-2006-merlot-sWhat they say: High-toned aromas of black cherry and blueberry with hints of cola. A smooth, silky texture brings flavors of black currant, blueberry, mocha, and vanilla cream. The finish is cool and velvety, with hints of blackberry and clove spice.

    What Jess said: Buttery popcorn on the nose, buttery in the mouth. Cherry. Also nice. We tried it a second time and I found it less exciting the second time around.

    What Mitch said: Tarry finish at the back of the mouth, but light. More sour than bright.

    2006 Ancient Peaks Syrah, $16 per bottle

    ancient-peaks-2006-syrah-smWhat they say: Warm plum and spice aromas with smoky-earthy nuances. The palate bursts forth with bright rounded flavors of black cherry, plum, cola, and mocha. The finish lingers with long fruit and supple tannins.

    What Jess said: Bacon on the nose. Big up front with a diminishing finish. I'm not crazy about this wine, and I found it a little boring (and I generally like Syrah, especially from this region).

    What Mitch said: Uvula firecracker. First it's smooth, then it burns and finishes flat.

    2006 Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon, $16 per bottle

    ancient-peaks-2006-cs-smallWhat they say: Intense aromas of black fruits and leathery spice. The palate is deep and juicy, unfolding with ripe flavors of plum, cassis, black cherry, and mocha. Supple tannins are interwoven into a long, chewy finish.

    What Jess said: Not much on the nose, but gentle and pleasant in the mouth. I thought it might be a little chocolatey. It had a long but delicate finish. Definitely tasted the Central Coast terroir in this Cab. We tasted this one a second time too, and it was notably sweet the second go-around.

    What Mitch said: Pungent nose, flavorific but not heavy.

    I found this on Bizrate for $12.95 if you'd like to give it a try.

    2006 Ancient Peaks Malbec, $35 per bottle

    ancient-peaks-2006-malbec-sWhat they say: Aromas of raspberry plum, rhubarb, and forest floor. Deep jammy flavors of boysenberry and blackberry anticipate accents of cedar, tobacco, and Asian spice. Juicy tannins embrace a supple, smoky finish.

    What Jess said: Gentle on the nose, longer finish than the others, easy on the tannins, nice but not awesome. Maybe at $20 a bottle I'd feel differently.

    What Mitch said: Medicinal nose, bright, crisp flavor, smooth.

    2006 Ancient Peaks Petit Verdot, $35 per bottle

    ancient-peaks-2006-pv-smallWhat they say: The 2006 Petit Verdot offers warm black fruit aromas with accents of lavender and pencil shavings. The palate bursts with fresh flavors of wild cherry, black currant, cola, and coffee with hints of peppercorn. Firm tannins are balanced with bright acidity for a clean, focused finish.

    What Jess said: It's kind of like sour cranberry juice. A little acidic to my nose, maybe it just needs to be aged?

    What Mitch said: Burnt berry nose. Smoky flavor all around.

    2006 Ancient Peaks Petite Sirah, $35 per bottle

    ancient-peaks-2006-ps-smallWhat they say: The 2006 Petite Sirah is loaded with exotic aromas of blueberry, cigar box, anise, white pepper and pomgegranate. Luscious flavors of blackberry, black cherry, vanilla bean, and cinnamon spice unfold along a big, chewy texture. Dusty tannins add structure to a long, juicy finish.

    What Jess said: Blueberry and sesame on the nose. Chalky and sweet in the mouth. Another wine showing the strong Central Coast terroir.

    What Mitch said: Pedestrian nose, like a dry Vina Santurnia

    2006 Ancient Peaks Oyster Ridge, $50 per bottle

    ancient-peaks-2006-or-small What they say: The 2006 Oyster Ridge is an artful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Zinfandel, and was crafted to exemplify our finest winemaking efforts. The bouquet brims with accents of black fruit, rose petal, toasty oak and graphite. A complex tapestry of flavors includes blueberry, blackberry, vanilla, mocha, and anise. Firm tannins and exquisite balance ensure that this wine will reward careful cellaring.

    What Jess said: Smoky, like barbecue sauce. Smooth finish. We liked this one but without a cellar (or even proper wine refrigerator), we don't invest in wines this expensive. And we're not sure it was worth the $50 price tag.

    What Mitch said: Mild nose, spicy finish. Hits at the back of mouth but is light on the tongue.

    Wine Tasting in Paso Robles

    Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wine Tasting Trips | 1 Comment

    Last weekend Mitch and I were in Pismo Beach for a baby shower and decided to do a little wine-tasting in Paso Robles afterward. We've been to the Santa Ynez Valley for wine-tasting many times and loved it, but with everybody saying Paso Robles is the new Healdsburg, it was time to start checking out (not that we've been to Healdsburg yet or anything).

    Based on our traveling schedule and wines I was already familiar with, we chose to do a tasting at the Ancient Peaks tasting room in Santa Margarita on Saturday, followed by Ortman Family Vineyards at their tasting room in Downtown Paso Robles, the Opolo Vineyards tasting room at their vineyard in an area referred to as “The Far Out Wineries,” and Peachy Canyon which is somewhere between Opolo and Highway 101, but I can't tell you where because we never made it that far.

    A map of the wineries we visited on recent wine tasting trip to Paso Robles

    A map of the wineries we visited on recent wine tasting trip to Paso Robles

    Each tasting experience will be its own entry in this blog and I'll talk about what we tasted, share our tasting notes, and tell you what we bought and why (and if possible, where to get it yourself). Then as we drink each bottle we bought, we'll let you know if our sober and at-home opinions line up with our less-than-sober caught-up-in-the-fun-of-tasting-in-situ opinions.

    Also of note, we visited a couple of local restaurants and partook of some local lodging. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Riverside Dr. Clean and comfortable, but has very noisy plumbing (other people's showers) and air-conditioning. We ate at a barbeque place (Big Bubba's Bad BBQ) that was average bordering on icky (unless you're looking for cheap margaritas and frat-boy drinks or a ride on a mechanical bull and some really bad line-dancing by the waitstaff). And we ate at Artisan in Downtown Paso Robles for brunch on Sunday. The menu looked exciting and the organic/local approach to food was appealing, too. I have to say we were disappointed. The food was good and of the highest quality, but it seemed to lack flavor and had too much bread (to the point of distraction from the proteins).