Paso Robles Afternoon

Regular readers know I avoid tasting rooms like the plague, but I DO keep a running list on my desk of things that pique my interest enough to snoop out. Last week such an opportunity afforded itself in Paso Robles: a friend invited me to visit with him at Linne Calodo, and having an early afternoon free on a weekday, I took him up on it.

Linne Calodo is a small, fairly pricey, appointment-only winery on the West side of Paso Robles. I had tasted one-offs of their wine several times over the years, but never had the opportunity to sit down and run through a full line-up. Five wines were being poured, all with different names–something which kinda annoys me, but hey, I get it: when you’re making numerous GSM’s, you have to differentiate between them SOMEHOW, right?  Having cool names for each of your bottles is pretty much the rage, it seems.

What the wines ALL had in common are impenetrable concentration, heavy macerations, fairly hi-alcohols and gobs and gobs of that lovely dense Paso fruit. But distinct individuals rose from the various blends.
2017 STICKS & STONES (GSM 71/22/7) was clean and bright. The fruit is beautifully thin and shrill for the density of the wine, carrying everything across the palate with nice balance. The softness of the Grenache really shines here, and in proper fashion, impresses a thickness of fruit far beyond what color would indicate.
2017 PROBLEM CHILD (Zin/SY/Graciano/Carignan 64/19/14/3) was sharp and mineralific, ++spice and no prune at all, surprising perhaps, considering A) the Zin component and B) we’re in Paso. Bumping on 16-oh, it held itself together nicely, with decent balance–quite a feat for 20% Syrah. Would LOVE to taste the Syrah component alone. If you subscribe to the *field blend* theory of older Zinfandel production or perhaps are a fan of RIDGE, check this wine out.
2016 IN MY DREAMS (GR/Temp/Graciano/Tannat/Cinsault 27/24/20/15/14) Despite the *kitchen sink* blend, this proved to be one of my favorites of the line-up. It must be the Tannat, haha. I mean–in a blend like this everything would typically get muddled, but HERE it works. Bristling with acid and beautiful tannin, it plays the bitter card perfectly against a fullness of fruit and a sharp entry working slowly into plush fruit–but not TOO plush.
2016 PERFECTIONIST (SMG 74/17/9) A classic presentation working butter and persimmon into perfectly mild burnt rubber and asphalt. Peppery tannins bring everything into perspective, and the Mourvedre and Grenache round and funk-ify things nicely for Paso.
2016 THE MARTIAN is a BDX blend they pulled out from under the table for me and I liked it enough to bring it home. So I’m not going to do any notes here–watch for it on the blog soon. There’s not much left of it, and it is flat-out STUPIDLY BEAUTIFUL, so you might wanna jump on that one. Or wait for my review–it’s YOUR dice-roll.
[2.17.19 EDIT: Full Martian review HERE]  Make an appointment here next time you are visiting Paso Robles and check it out. Well worth the time.

I had another hour or so to kill and was already on a road with a couple other wineries I was curious about, so headed up the hill. I knew THACHER was up there somewhere and had heard great things. FYI: There’s NO cel or MAPS up here, so grab a paper map before you go.

Thacher is a curt little place anchoring a beautiful meadow surrounded by grapevines. The winemaker was holding court in the tasting room the day I popped in, but he busied himself with other folks and I fortunately didn’t have to interact. I went through these rather fast, as they turned out to be not only bearing crazy names again–not legitimately because there were multiple variations on a GSM theme, no, this time just because someone decided it would be cool to give them all crazy names–but were ridiculously boring through-and-through.  A GRENACHE BLANC was crisp and spicy, crazy cinnamon and nutmeg, green and vibrant: and–while a bit slutty–easily the wine of the room. A SYRAH from Coastview Vineyard in Monterey County was the appellational surprise of the day. It just seemed odd right here in the middle of beautiful Syrah country on an estate vineyard to be drinking MontCo Syrah. But no complaints. I love Monterey County Syrah. It was clean and lovely, nice funky notes, not over-extracted.

Everything went downhill fast from there. A ZINFANDEL/MOURVEDRE BLEND (90/10?) offered something so ridiculously touristy and completely forgettable I couldn’t get it out of my glass fast enough. A PETITE SIRAH so oxidized I didn’t even taste it–one sniff and an immediate F, and a BDX BLEND (Cab & Malbec and I believe a tiny bit of Cab-Franc) proved again an absolute waste of time with nothing interesting going on in it–unless you want to call the odd middle of grilled onion and Alpo “interesting”. This winery is a nice 10-minute visit with a strong perfume inside I instantly noticed and eventually traced to the scented candles in the corner.  If you’re into bullshit Paso Robles winery experiences, knock yourself out.

I had had a 100% Grenache Rosé from JADA recently which impressed, and since the previous visit turned out to be so short and unpleasant, I pulled into the long uphill driveway. An interesting line-up–again: all with blend names, but here it somewhat works, as the blends are all CRAZY eccentric.MALSTRIA—A blend I recall being ALL OVER the place variety-wise and have forgotten the exact recipe–was a near-favorite for its acidity and depth, even though there were no varietally-redeeming characteristics about it. Just a nice red blend, safe and good.
STRAYTS A Bordeaux blend *of sorts* although a chunk of Syrah in it kinda cheapens the deal in my book. Merlot and Petit Verdot predominately, the Merlot lush-life, along with Syrah, and a hefty dose of Petit Verdot giving peppery structure. Actually quite tannic. Would love to have this wine on the blog for a full-on study.
JERSEY GIRL A classic Syrah/Viognier 90/10 pulling beautiful plush fruit up out of dense black-tea and perfect quiet apricot notes stewed in floral. 10/10 would smash.
JACK OF HEARTS Another *almost Bordeaux* blend–Cab and Petit Verdot, but this time with an annoying squirt of Petite Sirah and Syrah. I can’t get into wines like this, I’m sorry I just can’t. I mean–it’s GOOD, not great, just good, and nothing varietally setting it apart.
SAWBONES approaches a near-Aussie Cab/Syrah blend, but with more Petit Verdot. Listen: I’m not going to give short-shrift to Petit Verdot in ANYTHING. If you are growing it, you might as well plunk it down into almost EVERYTHING for beauty and ink and structure. But here there is a balance problem. Nothing *jives* in this wine. Oddly nuanced at opposite ends and quite heavy oak.
PASSING BY I recall had the most of a solid-Bordeaux blend, with a teensy bit of Syrah I probably wouldn’t even have put on the label (like 2% or something). Ridiculously staining in the glass, I’m pretty sure this had the most estate cab of any of them. Truly shows what the property can do, a heady elixir of maraschino liqueur, cassis, spices barely able to show their faces, and brilliant tannin which will go down easily with all that heady fruit and alcohol. Would be fun to have a few of these rolling around the cellar for a decade. I’m definitely going to be recommending this tasting room to visitors wanting interesting places to try. A beautiful, almost-secret spot.

3 thoughts on “Paso Robles Afternoon

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