Paso Robles is an incredibly diverse wine region with a range of soils, climate and grape varietals. The region is home to over forty grape varietals, and so maybe the title should be “Forty Shades of Paso Robles”, but for purpose of this article I am going to introduce you to fifteen distinct grape varietals that will appeal to your palate as well as your intellect.
No other area in the world can boast this many varietals. It is rare to find a wine region that has the opportunity and terroir to grow forty distinct grapes. Paso Robles is a big melting pot of people, there are brilliant winemakers from around the globe flocking to Paso to make wine, each bringing with them the varietals and expertise of their own region.
Typically when you think Paso Robles, you think Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Syrah. Paso Robles is more than just Cabernet Sauvignon, there are also many other varietals that winemakers are experimenting with. This list focuses on the lesser known varieties of Paso Robles like Alicante Bouschet, Picpoul Pinet and Guner Veltnier to name just a few. There is a broad degree of stylistic expressions in these fifteen wines, but they all are well-balanced, harmonious, intense and complex.
Paso Robles is like the wild wild west where winemakers are experimenting with techniques, style, and grape varietals. Here are fifteen wines that are a perfect example of that anything goes attitude of Paso Robles. Paso Robles as a region is discovering its possibilities, with its small boutique wineries as well as big producers. These fifteen wines are exceptional and unique and some even rare and obscure. As you taste some of these wines, you will begin to realize that diversity is key to understanding and exploring the magnificent region of Paso Robles.
1. Four Lanterns Apricity Picpoul Blanc 2017 (SRP $29) Unique and refreshing with green apple nose and crisp finish. Only 110 cases made.
2. Giornata Fiano 2017 ($30) – Intense aromas of cantaloupe, baked apple and hazelnut are followed with honey, persimmon and pear notes on the creamy, rich palate.
3. Thatcher Cinsault 2015 ($40) – There are fresh aromas of rose and white pepper. Lovely acidity and notes of rose, red plum and cherries. This wine is made in very small production.
4. Hearst Chileno Tempranillo 2015 ($32) . Ruby red in color, this wine exudes rich aromas of spiced plum, toasted oak and wild sage. The plush mid palate yields to a well composed tannic structure.
5. Villa San-Juliette Alicante Bouschet Reserve 2013 ($30) Famous for earthy intensity and a magenta-black hue, Alicante Bouschet reaches a new level of elegance here. The mouthfeel is luscious and soft, with layers of red fruit and spice.
6. Rava Sparkling Gruner Veltliner ($30) – This unique Gruner Veltliner sparkling wine offers fresh aromas of green apple and Asian pear along with hints of apricot and baking spices. Its delicate texture has a wonderful creamy mouthfeel with elegant small bubbles. Rava Winery is located in Paso Robles but this sparkling wine is not produced under the Paso Robles AVA, it is included on this list because it is a great example of the level of curiosity and experimentation that is common amongst the winemakers.
7. Le Cuvier Chrysos 2014 Viognier & Roussanne ($73) – Le Cuvier is an exceptional wine and you immediately realize that it is a rare and special treat. There is oak, honey and spice on the palate. This is a handcrafted wine made in very small quantities, only 163 cases produced.
8. Niner Wine Estate Cabernet Franc 2014 ($65) – The Niner Cab Franc is grown on a single block in Heart Hill Vineyard in Paso Robles. It has dark cherries, green peppers and nice grippy tannins.
9. Opolo Montagna Mare Barbera & Sangiovese 2015 ($28) – This is elegant blend of 50% Barbera and 50% Sangiovese. Beautiful nose of dried plum and vanilla sweetness. There is a silky texture of black raspberry, pomegranate and baking spices.
10. Eberle Mill Road Viogner 2017 ($28) – Full-bodied yet elegant, this Viognier has a classic floral bouquet of lychee, orange blossom and honeysuckle with mouth-watering flavors of apricot and peach, culminating in a long, crisp finish.
11. Broken Earth Winery Limited Release Verdelho 2017 ($24) – The initial swirl and smell leads to a subdued honeydew melon aroma on the nose. This wine starts out with subtle herbal and green fruit notes that quickly move into richer, tropical fruit notes of ripe pineapple and shredded coconut that overtake the mid-palate.
12. Clavo Temptress of Templeton Torrontes 2016 ($30) A crisp clean Torrontes with enticing aromas of white pear, white flowers and citrus fruit. Has beautiful structure and acidity along with enticing fruit flavors. Fruity, floral and yet still quite dry.
13. Thacher Valdiguié 2017 ($35) – This soon to be released wine is from an obscure grape originally from France. Notes of crushed violets and sour cherries. This wine is great when slightly chilled. Full of black plum and star anise on the palate. A unique and exceptional wine.
14. Seven Oxen Tannat 2014 ($39) This Tannat has notes of menthol, almond and prune on the nose. Pronounced but silky tannins on the palate with a long-lasting mouthfeel. Subtle grilled notes and vanilla confirm the nose. This wine is big and intense, perfect to enjoy with a hearty meal.
15. Giornata Aglianico 2016 ($45) It starts with nose of iron, roses, peppercorn, and sandalwood. The palate is dense with dark fruit – blackberry, cinnamon, oregano and leather. Rich, chewy, and stacked on the palate with loads of tannin and acidity.