Friday we set out from the Cambria house towards Paso Robles a little later than planned. The drive up with very little sleep the night before took a fair bit of out of us, me in particular, and we knew we would probably be up late playing games once the boys, aka Crazybugger and his boy B, arrived later that evening. Mortgaged prepped an amazing smelling Boeuf Bourguignon and left it slow cooking in the oven on low while we went about our day. I do love intense involved cooking, as you all know by now, but that does not mean that my devotion to simple, let it be cooking has any less passion.
Mortgaged wanted to try a back route into Paso Robles, taking Santa Rosa Creek road out of Cambria back by Coast Union High School and following the creek all the way into winery country. Our intention was to make the proper turn off and take a second road further up into the hills, connecting with Vineyard Drive our by Whalebone and Oso Libre but we missed it somehow and just took Santa Rosa Creek to Highway 46 West, hitting the highway just south of Lone Madrone. No matter, it was a pretty drive, an absolutely gorgeous drive past a lot of farm land, undeveloped meadows and woods and several houses of the sort with enough acreage to allow one to keep chickens, goats and maintain one heck of an impressive garden…the kind of house both Mortgaged and I really want some day, the more we think about it. Now I just need to convince my company to open a school in Paso Robles!
The unexpected detour changed up our plans a little and we decided to save the two new to us “far out” winery choices for another trip. Lone Madrone was coming up on our right and we are all out of the La Mezcla White (my favorite white wine in Paso Robles, a dry Albarino and white Grenache blend with flavors of tangerine, apricot, pear, minerals and a bare hint of honey) and the Bailey Ranch Zinfandel which is all manner of rich peppery goodness, so this seemed like a good first stop. Lone Madrone grapes are all local and all dry farmed. I thought this sounded a little too much like “organic” for my tastes, a silly label that does not necessarily improved the taste but assuages yuppie consciences through their wallets…that was until I started tasting dry farmed wines. Really, the flavor just is that much more concentrated and complex. A couple of years ago I became a dry farm believer and if you are looking for evidence to help you make your own decision on the subject, I highly suggest Lone Madrone. We left with all too many goodies including the aforementioned wines and the new Points West Red which is a peppery, plumy Syrah, Mourvedre blend that had my name written all over it.
We wanted to make sure and drop by Rio Seco before the boys joined us. If the winemaker was there, I was hoping for a little baseball talk and I think that bores B to tears. Sadly we found out that Tom Hinkle, Rio Seco owner, winemaker and a retired baseball scout of some renown has been quite ill and is only rarely available these days. I wish him as speedy and complete a recovery as possible. He’s a good guy and clearly loved by both his family and the locals. We got to chat with his daughter instead and her new fiancé and learned a lot more about the winery which is always fun. Mrs. Hinkle apparently refers to most of the wine they produce as Monday through Thursday wine and I think this is an excellent description. It is delicious, easy drinking wine that is perfectly priced for enjoying several bottles in the middle of the week with a family dinner. My favorites are the #22 Zinfandel (named for the fact that this gem was the 22nd bonded winery in Paso, it’s got a deep blackberry and raspberry fruit with allspice, cinnamon and clove notes, typical of a Paso Robles Zinfandel) the Grand Slam (a fruit forward table red with nice tannins that begs to be paired with pasta with a marinara or arribiata sauce, hard salami and cheese or a big juicy burger).
Pasoport/Steinbeck is just down the road from Rio Seco, so it seemed like the next logical stop. As usual, the port is amazing, but getting to chat with Lola, the winemaker’s wife is also a lot of fun. She’s very knowledgeable about the wine marketing and competition process and always has something new and interesting to share. I am so happy for them! They are sold out of the Noel Christmas Port as well as the Tawny Port and the Ruby and Angelica ports are on limited purchase right now, soon to be sold out. And, there label campaign won a prestigious industry award for obvious reasons, they’re gorgeous! It has apparently been a good year. In 2011 and 2012, they have plans to debut a Havana port which apparently will be the kind of part that begs for a good Cuban cigar, a new Noel (there will be a new blend every Christmas from now for as long as the winemaker is intrigued by the process) and Brandy, which will be a single non-traditional port varietal and the varietal is likely to switch from year to year. First up? A late harvest Zinfandel. Can’t wait to find that one in my member shipment!
For our last stop we went to Four Vines and then enjoyed a lovely late lunch on the patio at Farmstand 46 – yes, we both had “the goat,” an absolutely amazing slow roasted pork, havarti greens and pickled onion Panini and our usual green bean and caramelized shallot salad. Four Vines has had a recent stoke of the best of both worlds kind of luck. They have sold the Four Vines name to a larger company and one of the partners involved in the original winery will go with the label to help develop it on a national level. The other two partners are remaining with the original winery which they want to keep small and boutique-y and will rechristened as Cypher Winery later this year. (Be warned, the website is still under construction so the link just goes to the front page.) So, many of the wines we know and love from Four Vines, including the Naked Chardonnay (all stainless steel, all fruit and minerals and one delicious white wine for red wine drinkers) the Maverick and Biker Zinfandels and some of the blends will soon be available at Costco, Bev Mo and more, while Cypher Winery will continue to capture that creative, “Zinbitch” feel of the original winery. I believe that the Peasant, Anarchist and Monarch Rhone blends will remain Cypher but I could be wrong. If they don’t I trust the Zinbitch to come up with something equally magnificent. They are already tasting and selling the Louis Cypher (a complex blend of small amounts of Zin, Petite Sirah and Petite Verdot with larger amounts of six different Portuguese grapes more typically found in port. The end result is like almost nothing else I have even tasted, rich, perfumed with flavors of plum, fig with brandied cherries and port like spices, but dry. A. Maz. Ing. Seriously.) and the Zinbitch Zinfandel (OMG!) which will be among the Cypher winery offerings at the tasting room. Mortgaged and I joined the wine club on the spot. Oh yes. It’s that good!
After that, we went back to the Cambria house to finish preparing the Boeuf Bourguignon and wait for the boys. Mortgaged’s dinner turned out spectacularly (and I finished enjoying the last leftovers this evening as I typed this, yum!) and everyone enjoyed themselves. We dove into some of the wine we brought up from L.A. including Calcarous’ lovely Tres Violets, a nicely spiced black currant, plum and blackberry tasting GSM, prompting us to promise to add Calcarous to the list of to-dos for Saturday. Later, we played Tripoloy, which was a huge reminder of Wednesday wine and cards nights back at Oxy with Mortgaged, Crazybugger and others not present and not on LiveJournal. I hadn’t played Tripoly in years. So much fun!
- Current Location:home, drying out as it were
- Current Mood: cheerful