May 1, 2016

Paso Robles Cabs of Distinction 2016 The 'Judgement of Paso'.

Front entry of the Allegretto Vineyard Resort
 
Paso Robles has been a top wine destination for a number of years now. The region has grown into arguably one the best overall wine weekend / holiday destinations in America with world class wine, a good number of great restaurants and some fantastic places to stay. The world-class quality of its signature Cabernet Sauvignon and red Bordeaux varietals are why Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Paso Robles Wine Region of the Year in 2013.

View from my balcony
 
This visit was the 4th annual Cabs of Distinction event that we have attended. It also happens to be the 4th annual event. #CABs2016 was the hashtag and we used it a bunch to share some of the numerous high lights of this great couple days in Paso Robles.

Formed in 2012, the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective (PRCC) strives to promote the full potential of the Paso Robles AVA in producing superior-quality, classic and age-worthy Cabernet and red Bordeaux varietals to consumers, trade and media worldwide.

Heading down to Paso on Wednesday morning there was one session on my mind. The Judgement of Paso. There were to be eight Bordeaux wines made up of French, Napa and Paso Robles wines and six sommeliers tasting and guessing just like the rest of us. This was a chance to compare the best of the best and compare my palate against some top somms. This was going to be awesome! But I'm getting ahead of myself.
 
Gary Eberle pouring
This year the event was to be held at the relatively new very swank and stylin Allegretto Vineyard Resort. Having been open less than a year they are still adding statues and other beautiful decorations throughout the facility. Check-in was a snap and I was soon into my beautiful suite with a lovely large balcony overlooking the beautiful 12,000sqft piazza where they were setting up for the walk around tasting. A quick unpack and down to the where the wine was and collected my mane badge and of course a glass.
 

Daniel telling how it is
Brecon a Tasty surprise
The walk around was full of great Bordeaux wines and the good folks of the Paso Robles Cab Collective really showed the quality and value of Paso Robles wine. Tasting around the 22 wineries and trying to sample as many as possible I was constantly impressed. There were some you expect to be good or great and then there are those that I had never had or those I had not tasted in a long time that have stepped up their game. Of course stepping up of the game is one of the goals of the Paso CAB Collective. There were some absolutely crackin wines to be tasted but one in particular struck a chord with me. It was the 2012 Calcareous Vineyard Signature Cabernet Sauvignon. So impressed that when asked by Kyndal Kennedy of Parker Sanpei what my favorite wine from the tasting was the Calcareous is what I told her. Little did I know...

Next up was 'The Other Cabernet: In-depth exploration of the deliciously complex glories of Paso’s next big Bordeaux-style wine: Cabernet Franc'. The session was  moderated by the winemakers and some great insights were given as we tasted through the lovely wines. Cabernet Franc, a grape with softer tannins, floral notes and a much more feminine quality compared to the intense, bold and dramatic Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s commonly used as a blending grape and is often called the supporting actor.

At Adelaida with Daniel
That evening the group had a wonderful dinner at the fantastic new Adelaida Winery tasting room and facilities. It was a great way to end the day. The food was amazing and was prepared by prepared by Crush Catering and of course the wine was spot on. I had the pleasure of sharing a table with Daniel Daou and we discussed the impressive wines of Paso Robles and in particular the positive effect of the CAB Collective.

Thursday morning it was off to learn about Cab clones at 'Know Your Cab Clones'.
 
Winemakers and vineyard managers choose clones for many different reasons, from their resistance to certain local crop diseases, to their sugar concentrations, yields and flavor profiles. This along with farming techniques, site selection and the art of wine making date back hundreds of years. As a result, most of the wines you enjoy boast clone lineages that date back several centuries. The key clones in Paso include Clone 8, Clone 169, Clone 7 and Clone 337, among many others, and carry equally rich histories, and unique flavor characteristics.

The last event of #CABs2016 was held in the Allegretto’s lovely and perfectly sized Veneto Ballroom.
 
'Judgement Of Paso'
 
The team of experts taking center stage
 
Here six somm's and wine experts put their skills to the test with eight wines and under the intense scrutiny of a room full of other somm's, industry professionals and wine experts and, well, me. Although it wasn’t really a judgment as there was no judging or rating by the team of sommeliers on the panel, it was more of a guessing session. I found it interesting how little familiarity most of the panel had with Paso Robles wine in general other than their last couple days of tasting. Perhaps something that the Somm Guild needs to correct in their education process.

8 beautiful wines
The six sommeliers blind tasted the eight wines with the rest of us. They discussed and debated and engaged the crowd as they spoke on the qualities and personalities of the wines all the while attempting to determine the origin of each. Surprisingly few correct guesses were made, as many pros declared several Paso wines to be from Napa and vice versa. Back to the need for more Paso exposure for upcoming somms. All of them stated how pleasantly surprised they were after tasting Paso. “Well, I literally got almost all of them wrong,” said Scott Young CS, CSW, director of operations of Blackhouse Hospitality Management who was the moderator of the tasting.  He commented “I’m officially one of the converted.” All the other panelists I talked with echoed his statement. I'm proud to say I was able to accurately identify or at least guess 6 of the 8 wines.

Wine of the event in my uneducated opinion.
The wines for the Judgement were, from the Paso CAB Collective the 2012 Calcareous Vineyard Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 The Farm Winery LPF and the 2013 DAOU Vineyards Soul of A Lion. The Bordeaux wines were the 2012 Pichon Longueville Baron and the 2012 Chateau Lascombes. The Napa Valley wines were from 2012 Chappellet Cabernet Pritchard Hill, the 2012 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Wine and the 2012 Continuum Proprietary Red.

Thanks to  Kyndal Kennedy of Parker Sanpei  and the Paso Robles Cab Collective I had a fantastic couple days of great wine at an event that was well organized, in a beautiful resort, with weather specially ordered in to make for the perfect way to show all who attended that Paso Robles is a world-class cabernet sauvignon region easily comparable to Napa Valley and Bordeaux?
Happy Wine Adventures,
Cheers,
 

WineWalkabout


Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article72790582.html#storylink=cpy
Panel plus two enjoying an after the event glass of the good stuff #CABs2016
 

Apr 24, 2016

Is this the perfect gift? SWIG.


Some time back we were offered a look at a relatively new companies entry into the flask market. Being always curious about anything to do with eating and drinking we said yes.

The first thing that came to our mind was when we think of hip flasks is Hipsters...
The media has a thing out for hipsters and frankly as far as we are concerned hipsters have been asking for it. Wearing their urban outfitter jeans rolled up with their checkered shirts and suspenders, shoes without socks (gross) and carrying a whole foods shopping bag.

But we have a problem here. We have a problem of definition: everybody who seems like a hipster denies being a hipster, which of course is a sure sign of being a hipster. But we digress as we're not talking about hipsters as much as we're talking about style, about function, about beautiful surface's and about the inside, out. The SWIG was setup in 2013 to produce and sell Amazing Hip Flasks.

The day when carrying a hip flask was normal had seemed to have passed but in recent years there are two trends that seem to be diametrically opposed and yet both seem to embrace the hip flask. The two trends are the afore mentioned Hipster and the GQ James Bond type. Both have adopted the hip flask and as such are setting the trends for some of the rest of us regular folks to follow along.
They are also a standard for all wedding parties and camping adventures.

A lot of flasks on the market are more for show than for use. When warming up they spew their contents into your pocket, bag or purse and ruin whatever great moment was to come. So imagine asking your new date to put the flask in her new purse that sits in the sun in the car. See where we are going with this... Potentially the first and last date!

Well the good news here is that we put the SWIG flask to the test. Half filled with colored liquid and put into the refrigerator after a few hours the top was removed and then put back on tight and put into an oven that was then set at 250 deg f. (0-125 deg C) Not a single drop escaped. We did this twice to be sure.
Filling was a bit difficult with the small opening size so we recommend you order a funnel with your flask which has been specifically designed to make filling a snap..



The flask was a SWIG 'Naked' Hip Flask 170ml (6oz).
  • The body is seamless stainless steel. So there is no risk of leaking.
  • The bottom is flat, so it can stand up straight.
  • Engraving is available.
  • Add a SWIG Funnel. (we recommend you do)

  • There are a number of different style sleeves and accessories as well as the most amazing option in our opinion the ultimate gift of class the SWIG Handwritten Note that is Wax Sealed in an envelope. Brilliant!

    Another really cool thing as well as a big part of SWIG and something they are very proud of is the SWIG Society. It’s an exclusive club just for SWIG owners, their individually numbered flasks acting as a passport. Their members then send in photos of their SWIGs from all around the world, from the deserts of Africa to the outback of Australia to the canyons of America as well as to the spiritual home of Scotch whisky (well you get the picture).

    So all in all this flask from SWIG is attractive, seems very well made, comes with many ways to personalize and will not spew liquid with massive temperature change. So go check them out at SWIG, a classy cut above.

    Oh, and then there is the cool factor, no matter what your fashion style is...

    Cheers,
    from

    Walkabout
    WineWalkabout





    Apr 10, 2016

    Tasting great Italian Wines with James Suckling

    What's better than a tasting of Italian wines? Tasting the Great wines of Italy with James Suckling. This is the second year that we have been fortunate enough to get to attend this classic classy event, which this year was held at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco on Feb 28th. With wines from 114 of Italy's best wineries, this was to be a true taste sensation.

    The Winewalkabout Lexus dropped us off at the front door this year and it was just the two of us without our chaperones. This could be a mistake we mussed to ourselves as we lined up to collect our 90 point James Suckling glass and start our tasting adventure.

    Our Favourite
    Music was courtesy of Surahn Sidhu, an accomplished South Australian musician, who was the events’ DJ. In addition to the great wine, food and music, attendee's also received a complimentary Lalique events glass, designed by James Suckling, to use on the day and later add to enjoy in their home. Turns out Surahn went to school just around the corner from where Trev grew up.

    One of the ever present problems at events such as this is how to get the best tastings within the time allowed. A problem we usually just blow off and dive in and get at it, but this was a classy event and without supervision we did not want to embarrass James. The one issue we encountered in our quest that we had not expected, since this was such an up scale event, was the wanker behavior of some of the attendees. A couple examples of the not so classy behavior; first up is the Wally telling long boring pointless stories of his or her (yes some of the ladies behaved like wankers as well) epic wine trip / tasting / bottle to the pourer all the while 6-8 attendees are waiting to get their / our taste. The other thing is the spitter. Now we understand if you want to spit but show some class and don't bend over in front or across me and spit (sorry for spilling on the back of your head sir). Get yourself properly positioned or use a cup you crass ponce ( I'm sure the stain will come out of your shirt sir).

    So how were the wines you ask? Well to cut to the chase they were as advertised 'Great wines'.

    Look we are fans of Italian wines and have consumed our fair share of good ones but these were genuinely a great collection of Italian wines.
    As we traveled around the tables enjoying these wines we had a couple chances to chat with James about the wines, the music and to push our agenda on him of having an Australian, New Zealand version of this event.

    Its rare to go to a tasting of so many great wines and this event was one of those rare ones and as such is one we highly 'recommend' you go to next time it comes to town, whether that be New York, Los Angeles or the one that we attend, San Francisco. We would like to say thanks to James for having us and spending the time to hang out and chat. Cheers mate, until next year!

    Video of the events.

    Happy Tasting Adventures,
    Cheers,
     
    WineWalkabout

     

    Apr 3, 2016

    Savouring South Australian Wine in San Francisco

    For one of us South Australia is home. No not where we live now but where we grew up and where the heart is. So to get an invite to go listen to a seminar and taste the latest wines from what one of us considers the wine capitol of the world was too bloody good to miss.

    Savour South Australia (yes Americans, savour has a u in it in actual English) was held at One Market Restaurants conference room in San Francisco (hey everyone, lets do one in Monterey) which unfortunately means million dollar parking fee's, but we knew it would be worth it.

    Thanks to Allson for taking great care of us getting us in the front row for the seminar. While the moderator yank had a hard time remembering the pretty presenters name (bad form mate) the lovely Jennifer from McLaren Vale and James from Barossa Valley did a fantastic job of going into some fascinating detail of their respective regions. Not too nerdy but a great balance of nerdy and fun facts. While talking about the respective areas we tasted along with some truly impressive wines. These wines are top class and would stand against any in the world.

    Now you may say, oh sure Adelaide boy you are a bit biased. While that may have some merit I stand by the statement. I can name off a dozen that will substantiate the claim.
    South Australia has 18 wine regions. The most well known being Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Don't let that lead you to believe that that is where the good stuff come from. There are world quality wines coming from most of them. With areas like Coonawarra, Clare Valley, Eden Valley and the Adelaide Hills just to name a few, there is no shortage of top drops here.

    During the seminar there were 12 wines to talk about and taste and there were some beauties to look forward to at the tasting. Right out of the gate the first wine was a cracker. The Henschke 2015 Julius Riesling from Eden Valley. We love a good Rizza and this was a beaut.

    Look not a disappointing wine in the bunch  but including the wine #1 Henschke here are a few that really captured our taste buds.
    #3 Cirillo Estate 1850 Grenache 2010 - Barossa Valley
    #7 Penfolds St Henri 2012 - South Australia
    #8 Kay Brothers Block 6 Shiraz 2011 - McLaren Vale
    #9 Langmeil Freedom 1843 Shiraz 2013 - Barossa Valley
    #10 Torbreck Run Rig 2012 - Barossa Valley

    They call Australia a new world wine region but here we tasted wines from vines that are up to 173 years old. With other wines made from vines that are 150 and 165 years old. There is a saying that Old vines are not good because they are old but are old because they are good. These wines were / are simply stunning!
    The seminar was an eye opener even though we drink a lot of Aussie wine, to have them lined up all in a row was to give one a new appreciation of what wonderful wine comes from this part of the world.

    Next up was the general tasting and there are some pluses and minuses here. The plus is there were a few winemakers there to represent their wine. The minus was there were only a few winemakers there to represent their wine.

    Another plus the hors d'oeuvres were delicious and they kept coming long enough and the only complaint being that we ran out of time to get to all the wine tables.

    Look there are some seriously great wines coming out of South Australia and we love drinking them and telling anyone who will listen about them. We are even looking into doing a WineWalkabout South Aussie wine tasting in the Monterey area if we can get a wine maker interested in sharing their wines. This is because we truly believe that the American market is missing out and once exposed they will be fans for life.


    Happy Wine Adventures,
    Cheers,


    WineWalkabout



    Mar 27, 2016

    Paso Robles Rhone Rangers 2016


    There are a ton of great wine events in little old Paso Robles. Most all of them are good and well worth attending. We do attend a lot of tastings and so sometimes we get a little jaded...


    but this is not one of those times. We have attended the Paso Robles Rhone Rangers event for a number of years and have always enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and the great comradery that seems to run through all the wineries that participate. New and old, large and small, there is definitely the attitude and behavior that supports the rising tide raises all boats philosophy.




    This year the event was again held at the wonderful Broken Earth Winery. This is an amazing facility and provides a great setting for this event. This year we were also lucky enough to attend the seminar prior to the grand tasting.

    For those of you not familiar with what makes a Rhone Ranger wine lets start with some basic info. "Rhone Ranger" wine must be made up of at least 75% of one or more of the 22 recognized (by the French Government) varieties. These all came from the various appellations within the Rhone Valley of France. Here is a link to The 22 Rhone Ranger Grapes

    There are a number of reasons we enjoy coming to this tasting every year but first and foremost is great wine and this year was no exception.
    The seminar was a series of tastings with information from the winemakers or owners.

    We started of with white wines and the first was a crackin Rose from Halter Ranch and beautiful Viognier from Four Lanterns. Next up it was a lip smacking Roussanne from Cass Winery and we finished off the whites with a Blend from Calcareous.  Truly lovely wines that engaged all the senses and checked all the box's and were as far as we could tell very much enjoyed by all. Our favorite child of the group was the Roussane from Cass Winery. We then had the pleasure to taste our table sponsors wine. A lovely Chardonnay from Powell Mountain Cellars.

    Next up was the red wine lineup. Each wine was unique and a great example of the varietal. We had a 2012 Broken Earth Grenache, a 2013 Adelaida Mourvedre, a 2012 Alta Colina Syrah, a 2012 red blend from Pomar Junction and a 2013 ONX winery Petit Sirah. Wines of balance and intrigue and we had no wine left in any glass. Our favorite child from this group was the ONX Petit Sirah. Then for a little icing on the cake was a very nice 2010 Syrah again from our table host Bill at Powell Mountain Cellars. Thanks for the share Bill, very nice stuff!

    We then enjoyed a lovely lunch with a glass of Bills Powell Mountain Cellars Syrah and some great conversation.
    After our feed it was off to do some serious work and taste as many Rhone wines as we could squeeze into 2.5 hours. This is what we train for...

    In to the great big barrel rooms it was to taste like the pro's we are. Heading in is a combination of excitement about what we will taste and apprehension about the fact we cannot get to them all and we may miss out. We are not good with missing out!

    We dove into checking out a bunch of the white wines first and were stunned by the consistently good wines. You / we, don't often think of Paso Robles and white wine, but trust us they have a plethora of good ones. We then moved quickly onto the reds and went straight to a couple that we use to set the bar. First up was Tablas Creek who consistently are the standard by which others are compared to. Without disappointment they were as one would expect. Truly lovely wines that are true to varietal and style as well as wines of sublime balance.

    There were many favorites as we tasted through the wines. We tried to get to as many as possible, but alas we did not taste them all. As such its not really fair to call out our favorites as we may not have actually tasted the best of show, but rest assured there were way more excellent wines than there were average ones.

    This event is a must not miss. Great value and great wines. The folks at Broken Earth Winery do a fantastic job of organizing the venue to make it a stellar event.

    We give this event a 'must do' if anywhere near Paso Robles.

    Thanks to Tony Quealy and Jason Haas for accommodating us and getting us to this wonderful event.


    Happy Wine Adventures,
    Cheers,
     
    WineWalkabout