Grape growers and winemakers in Paso started trying out a few different wine styles, including Rhône and Bordeaux. This meant, basically, syrah-based wines and cabernet-based wines. Then some mavericks came in and mixed the two, creating cabernet-syrah blends. Traditionalists cringed, but people started trying the wines and found they were pretty darn good.
“In a world of recognizable Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Syrah ends up being a consumer’s third choice,” says Steffanie Anglim. Still a tough sell for wholesalers and restaurants, Syrah tends to sell well in the tasting room, a common observation among wineries. As a former wine bartender, this fact makes sense to me.
En route to the first Chardonnay Symposium the city of Santa Maria appeared in all its incarnations. Hosted at Bien Nacido Vineyards’ historic Adobe, the morning began, like most in this winemaking region, wrapped in tangible veils of fog.
For three days every May, winemakers and wine enthusiasts gather in Paso Robles, California, for the largest international celebration of Rhône wines in the world. Now in its nineteenth year, the Hospice du Rhône's seminars, exhibits, and large- scale wine tastings attract throngs of eager attendees.
This moderately priced Rhône blend spent 14 months in a blend of French and European oak, and it shows. There is plenty of cherry and a little rhubarb, but the wood is slathered all over the fruit, overwhelming it. Sweet tannins and a maple flavor are wood-derived, making a difficult food match. Not recommended.
First Aromas of cedar and cherry, followed by the promise of earthiness. Later, candied florals emerge. Deep plum red color with an undertone of brown bears out the promise: this is European-style in flavor and acidity, but New World in its apparent low tannins and mild finish.