SLO County hits pretty hard on the Iberian varieties: not just Edna Valley’s fascination with Albarino, but Paso Robles has numerous wineries putting out classic, well-done Tempranillo–not to mention Garnacha and Carinena–there’s even a little Mencia. Out on the east-side, in the vast rolling hills of El Pomar District, the dry climate, cooling influence of the Templeton Gap and gobs of sunshine contribute nicely to these wines showing their best.
At 7, this one is just hitting its stride: still inky black in the glass, with the edge pulling near-fire-engine red. Lavish perfume fills the nose, a fresh-baked-bread yeastiness coating thick, round, leathery texture and still-bright black cherry. Tertiary budding: crushed, worn velvet and rubbed furniture sparkle with sage, squaw-vine and cardamom savory vegetal. It’s a gorgeous bouquet–probably near-peak, but reflecting points of potential timelessness. Decanted gently.
Then you taste it! Abrasive in structure from the very beginning, though the rich concentration of drippingly-ripe berry powers through the entry, sweetening and smoothing the chalky rasp. White pepper and bay deliver a spicy beat below the surface, acid curling the tongue while citrus-twist sharpens the dry angst of bitters. In the Paso-world of ridiculously fruit-forward, deeply-macerated alcohol bombs relying on oak and stand-a-fork-up-in-it density for tourist-appeal, a wine like this shines in its ability to be both *yummy* and geekily put together–a LOT like top Rioja. Despite the thick, modern fruit, old-world funk and restraint abound, culminating in briary tannins still at 10/10, but gracefully polishing their way through the pinnacle of fruit. An unforgettable nose, entry, middle, and finish: STELLAR Tempranillo sensational all across the palate, and STILL available on their website for some inexplicable reason of marketing. Now THERE’S an instant cellar.
2014 POMAR JUNCTION Tempranillo El Pomar Dist. Paso Robles 13.9