The Real Paso

I hate comparing regions, but wine-dork loves to do it and there are plausible points to most discussions. There are the obvious ones: IGT vs. BDX, Ribera vs. Rueda, Oregon vs. Burgundy, Chile vs. Arizona, Alsace vs. Germany, Santa Rita Hills vs. Sonoma Coast and on and on but one thing you read over and over is Paso Robles trying to assert themselves as *the next Napa* and for me–for the most part–this comparison doesn’t work. But here: here we have a quiet, out-of-the-way, un-blingy winery making what I feel are the closest cabs made in Paso to quality Napa cabs. And NO: the ones loudest and brashest are–literally–the furthest from it. Paso is Paso, but if you want to slice & dice: this is it.

Dark glowing ruby in the glass, nearly impenetrable at the core with a sliver of clear at the edge. The nose reeks of dusty mineral, fir boughs, oak tannin and eucalyptus vegetal, all laid down on a perfect score of thick cherry and savory funk.

Tasting it introduces a shock of shrill acid after glorious fruit makes a brief introduction. Tannin appears well before middle, a raspy abrasion chewy and thick, blackberry, currant and mint pulling up strong, but never over-stepping the bounds of balance. Thin of grandiosity while delightfully thick with ripe fruit, there are no slutty beckonings or fruit-statements made to woo the 99% into headache-inducing sweet-tooth addictions and club memberships. The mineral-ridden ache of rock roads and dusty trails in the foothills all speak perfectly to HOW WINE SHOULD BE, and this tiny producer gets it. They’ll never be on the cover of Wine Spectator or named Winery of the Year, and for that, those of us who KNOW are thankful. Find these wines. Make them part of your collection to stand proud alongside the Napa’s. Buy a case–drink one a year. No one else in Paso comes close.

2017 DUNNING VINEYARDS Cabernet Franc Willow Creek Dist. Paso Robles 14.2

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