Quick Hits: Rhone Rangers Paso 2019


These are fun wines.  Tried them on purpose because I had loved the Niner Pinots so much–surprisingly–at SLOwinecountry’s Harvest Fest.  So I forced myself to try them.  Nicely done.  Edna is Jesperson again, and Paso is estate.  What do you like? Two COMPLETELY different wines, as anyone who knows about the two appellations will understand. Pick your poison.  I can’t even find the Edna for sale.  I suspect it is club-only.  This is the beauty of Rhone Rangers.


This guy is definitely having fun with Spain.  I need that Monastrell in my life (let’s hope it’s not Graciano… pah-dum *tish*)  A standout was the Ballard Canyon NEXO Syrah.  This is another one I tasted through at a recent SLOwinecountry event and re-visiting was educational.


These are gorgeous bottles and I see them in the locked cases at the grocery store and have always been curious.  Another rolling out of the bling at Rhone Rangers!  Have you had these?  If you are a true Paso Robles fan, you will LOVE these three Rhones from the AUSTIN HOPE pinnacle of their various labels.  No blends here: they are individual Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre with awesome labels and packing a serious wallop in the glass. Check them out.


I rant and rave about Derbyshire Vineyard all the time, but this here is just regular DERBY VINEYARD–in Paso.  Derby’s Rhones–there’s an excellent Rhone blend called “1510” I have had numerous times and THIS darling, which again, I believe is club only. Nicely done


The KING of Petite Sirah in Paso Robles has to be Matt Villard and he rolled a couple out for us–two COMPLETELY different styles of this variety–one of my favorite grapes.  The Gemeny is an earthy brooding style, funky and polished and tertiary creeping in, giving more of an old world elegance in a gorgeous package.  Rosewynn is a different style of Petite Sirah, brash and bousterous, fruit on 11, tannins raw and clamoring for attention in a thick juicy package.  Again: Pick your poison!


OMG where do I start with this one.  Am I going to call this WOTD? I like Tannat… I unabashedly ADORE Tannat, and have been following Seven Oxen since they were blending it into things and kept promising a straight bottling.  Well, here it is.  I had been wanting to taste this for so long and all that expectation did NOT go wasted.  An absolutely gorgeous wine: LOOK at the color! Polished and refined, a 2014! Easily one of the oldest wines in the room. No glaring Tannat situations going on here, no stand-a-fork-up-in-it concentration or unwieldy tannins. It’s a big boy, but just pure polish all the way.  Definitely one to seek out.


The QUEEN of Carignane in Paso Robles, Amy Butler brought her two offerings to taste. Beautifully, beautifully done, showing finesse and balance from this grape often blended in. Did you know Carignane was once one of the most planted varieties in California and Southern France? I love the things it can do in the right hands and here it completely shines. Find some of this if you can.



Mark Adams was showing several of his offerings off at this event.  I tasted through several of these and a few more at Hospice Du Rhone last year and have always been intrigued by his big, but incredibly nuanced and funky offerings. Sourced from a who’s who of local vineyard sites, These are not cheap, but I DARE you to find more site-specific and carefully-crafted wines. Brooding and layered, always intensely concentrated and drippingly fruited, layered far beyond many of the tourist offerings.  Many of these are not *safe*, compelling tasters outside their comfort zones of funk and briar, but beautifully crafted and unforgettable.


What Rhone tasting in Paso Robles–or ANYWHERE–would be complete without Tablas Creek showing off their various bottlings?  NONE.  Probably the best story in Paso, and a commitment to quality and purity of balance equaled by few, Mr. Haas was pouring the BRAND NEW 2016 Esprit, a stunning rosé (grenache of course), and the esteemed Patelin Blanc–a wine (with the possible exception of Qupé’s Roussanne) that easily is one of the Central Coast’s most-ageable whites.  Regular readers will understand my affection for the single-variety bottlings from Tablas, and the Mourvedre poured today enhanced that notion. I don’t have to tell you how good Tablas is.


Tooth & Nail fans may not have seen this one, I’ve had it once before in my life and I’m pretty sure represents the pinnacle of their lineup.  I always forget what it is called–Dragon Slayer or something–and the blend is Syrah, Mourvedre and Tannat and a few other things.  Club only and not cheap, seriously collectible and headily thick and concentrated. A MONSTER of a wine, but with a lot going on between the huge fruit and even huge-er structure, all representative of a style of Paso wine many gravitate to.  You’ll have to join the club to get at it, but it is worth it in the Rabble line-up. This is my second experience with this wine and once you have it, you’ll never look at Tooth & Nail the same way again.

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