SLO WINE COUNTRY Harvest Fest 2018

A few stands outs from this afternoon. Starting off: a big surprise. I’ve never had NINER WINE ESTATES’ Pinot Noir or Syrah before.  I’ve had all their Paso stuff and this was NOT what I expected. I almost skipped it–as I have many other times–because we all know what usually happens when a producer with a roster like Niner’s makes a Pinot Noir.  I could not have been more wrong.  100% Jespersen fruit, this is fairly brilliant wine: ridiculously tannic, acidic, mineral-driven Pinot, and the 2012 Syrah Grenache was quite possibly in my top one or two wines of the day.  I am definitely looking forward to a serious re-visit of these two on the blog, not merely quick-hits at a sunny festival.


Here’s another one I had pre-disposed opinions regarding and blew my mind.  This little Arroyo Grande Valley thing wasn’t here to blow up the tourist’s skirts.  I was expecting a great big huge fat ripe alcoholic jambomb and this is a Lean Mean Zinfandel Machine, shrill, tannic, austere even… Not a speck a fat, prune, jelly or vodka anywhere on it. Completely reminded me of young zinfandels from Dry Creek Valley in the late 80s. 14.7 I think?  As an aside, they also make a CARBONIC ZINFANDEL, which–with possible competition from the enamel-removing Lagrein around the corner–was probably the most interesting wine at the tasting. And in a GOOD way…


Mike Sinor’s 2017 100% Pinot Noir pet-nat was released this weekend and this is literally one of the best petnats made in California and believe me I roll my eyes as hard as you do when I say that word, so I’m only talking about two or three in the state and this is one of them.  Yes, pet-nat needs to be over, but you start having serious second thoughts about that opinion when someone plonks one down in front of you that tastes THIS good. He sells it for $26 a bottle! It should be twice that.  I keep telling him he should disgorge it and sell it for 75.  He no listen to me.  There’s 300 cases of this every year and by his own admission, it sells out in 3 months. Buy as much as you can afford and by about July,  you will be regretting not affording more.  10 point 5!


El Lugar Rincon Pinot Noir and Spanish Springs Syrah both easily in my top 10 of the 40 or 50 wines I tasted today.  I’ve kind of armchair-followed this guy’s career through Clairborne & Churchill, etc and have been on a goal to visit his personal label seriously…  Today they really impressed.  Tight, structured and beautiful–not tourist wines IN THE LEAST.


So… anybody who knows me understands when it comes to Riesling & Gewurztraminer, I always go for the full on Alsatian style dry. But today was different. This 2012 off-dry was being poured alongside a 2015 bone dry and this is a stupidly good Riesling, stealing the show with its petrol and beautiful fruit; acidity for miles and miles wrapped around sweet texture.  My Wine Of The Day.  I wish I owned some.


Sonnies has always been my favorite Qupe although occasionally I will falter when a Bien Nacido *Hillside* is placed in front of me. Today this 2013 en magnum was shining like the sun–you just can’t own enough of these bottles.  Makes me want to go down the cellar and crack a few.  This is Slide Hill, a very popular vineyard at the Southern end of Edna Valley run my Brooke Williams of Duvarita fame.  It is just North of Varian Ranch and literally across the street from Alban.  This fruit goes into a TON of your favorite Paso Syrahs and Grenaches.  Unlike “Duvarita”, you rarely see “Slide Hill” on a label, and in this particular case, Qupe originally owned it and retained the *Sawyer Lindquist* name.  Next time you’re in Paso tasting some rocket-fuel wines labeled “San Luis Obispo” or “Central Coast”, ask where the fruit came from.  They’ll say, “Oh… some of the fruit comes from down in San Luis Obispo.” Prod a little further and you’ll get: “Yeah, a vineyard in Edna Valley.”  Twist a little harder and it will come out: Slide Hill.


Wow what a beautiful day.  I think last year it rained at this event!  I really love grand tastings at Avila.  there’s just something about them which makes me think fondly back to the glory days of Archie McLaren’s Central Coast Wine Classic.  Walked in on a CORK DORKS session too, with Mike Sinor and STOLO VINEYARDS, another of my favorite Central Coast cooler-climate producers of all-estate Syrah and Gewurztraminer in Cambria.


OK, I was done, but pulled a couple more images out of my phone because they are just too good to let go.  So this is the bonus *also mentioned* section.  Tolosa was pouring not only PRIMERA but this Hollister single-vineyard I had never experienced.  This vineyard is right at the corner of Corbett Canyon-yon-yon-yon Road and 227 in front of Greengate and across the street from Clairborne & Churchill.  Holy wow.  Now we all know Tolosa has a *style*, and this one kinda breaks that mold.  Ridiculously tannic, structure flowing out of all pores, and a pillar of fruit at its core which made surrounding Edna Valley offerings look like Kool-aide.  This is my new favorite Tolosa.


OK, one more and then I’ll shut up.  I just can’t close out without saying something about this not-so-little darling.  This is my new favorite offering from the Baileyana/Tangent/True Myth house.  As you can guess, it is Tempranillo, but also healthy portions of Syrah and Grenache.  It is a BEAUTIFUL wine.  Very well done.  A solid everyday blend showing component beauty and blend polish.  I have never seen this label before, I don’t know what production or availability is, but find some if you can.

For 2019, SLO Wine Country has a new director, a new name, new logo, and pretty much all new branding under a shiny new look. It is now SLO COAST WINE and this festival: Harvest on the Coast is coming up fast, November 1, 2, and 3 back out in beautiful Avila Beach. Find out about it and get your tickets to THIS YEAR’S harvest celebration here:

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