Jan 9, 2012

Paso Robles 46 East (mostly)

Its Winter and the sun is shining and the birds are singing and, well, today (Saturday) is the day we visit Paso Robles and check out a few large style tasting rooms and give them the once over. So we know, you want to know, why we picked the wineries we did. It was a very scientific and deeply thought out approach. Koala spit out names and Kiwi said no, yes, no, yes, yes, and we will see how it goes.
We decided to start at Vina Robles because it was on the right side of the road and the first one we came to as we headed out on Hwy 46 East. The facility is quite large and a bit intimidating and although there is plenty of parking it’s a bit of a walk into the tasting room. But take your time and enjoy the short stroll and appreciate the view as it is very nice. As you enter the facility it is large and spacious gift shop and specialty wine related food area. Moving thru to the tasting area it is also very open with very high ceilings and lots of room although the tasting bar is not large and is a bit dwarfed in the large space. We were greeted warmly by Anna and told of our tasting options, a standard $5 and a Reserve $10 with an optional Artisan Cheese pairing for an additional $5. We chose the Reserve, passed on the cheese, and got to it.
There were six offerings starting with the 2008 Creston Valley Petit Sirah. We did not particularly care for this one mostly because as the tasting note said “lingering chalky tannins on the finish” so for us a 5 with ***.
Next was the 2008 Signature, 83% Petit Verdot, 15% Petit Sirah, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. A step up for the better with a medium bodied wine that had good balance and nice finish. A 6 for us with ***. There was also a young lady wandering around with slices of 1/4" thick cut Harris Ranch Beef with some horseradish sauce on bruschetta style bread. Yum! Nice surprise and very  very good.
The 2008 Suendero with 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Petit Verdot was again a step up. A elegant wine with bright fruit and soft long finish. This was a 7 with ***. Anna our tasting assistant was quite knowledgeable about the various estate vineyards and regions the grapes were sourced from and had some interesting facts about the winery and is operations.
So next up was the 2007 Syrée with 79% Syrah, 21% Petite Sirah. This was a nice full bodied wine with ripe dark fruit a full mouth feel and an earthy under tone with a smooth finish. We both felt this was a solid 7 with ***.
The 2007 Syrah Ryan Road is 100% Syrah and we both thought it was to be our favorite. A good example of a Paso Robles full bodied ripe dark fruit Syrah with good tannin structure and a long finish. We both agreed it was a solid 7 with ***.
The final taste was the 2007 FORE Petite Sirah 100% Petite Sirah. Wonderful intense ripe dark fruit with some peppery spice nicely balanced to have a great mouth feel with nice acidity with a lovely finish that hangs on just long enough. Kiwi 7, Koala 8 with ***. This was Koalas favorite and so a bottle was purchased and Kiwi violated the wife rule of one bottle per winery and purchased one also but then added a bottle of 2007 Syrah Ryan Road.
Our overall impression of Vina Robles is; a must stop in if you’re in the area to try for yourself. Don't forget to tell them Kiwi and Koala sent you! This winery makes some very good boutique style wines that are well priced and very enjoyable. The tasting experience is complemented by the staff who were friendly and knowledgeable enough for all but a ponce (probably had someone there that could handle those one of those as well) The only thing we taught them was what the derivation of the word FORE in golf was. 
Next up was the former Meridian a little further out on 46 East which is now called Cellar360 since the reorganisation of the Fosters Group. Also a bit of a hike to the tasting room. We took the opportunity to picnic in the lovely gardens. A nice setting that left us eager to taste the limited release Black Label wines from Meridian that we had heard of as reasonably good wine at very good prices. However under the newly structured operation that is Cellar360 that choice was limited. The tastings, standard and premium were a mix of options that appeared to be randomly selected. With a choice of  two sets of 5 shovels and being told to take a pick we were a bit, well confused. The tasting room staff tried to help but also seemed to struggle to covince us of what option to take. 20 wineries and 50 wine brands makes up Treasury Wine Estates (only some of which are available in the tasting room) of which Cellar 360 is a part of. The tasting was disapointing and well, just not worth really going into. As Kiwi so eloquently put it the experience was like a Dickens novel “Great Expectations”. Or as Koala put it less eloquently "an underwhelming tasting experience". Nothing over a 4 for us here.        Nuf said, moving on!
So further out on 46 East we went to one of the more iconic tasting rooms in the area Tobin James Cellars. It has quite the reputation for being an energetic cowboy bar with a nonstop party atmosphere and pretty good wine for tasting! The reputation is relatively accurate. We walked in and the place was jumping. With one long standard bar a rectangular tasting bar that is serving all the way around and a three sided bar, a lot of people can be taken care of at any one time. We found a spot open at the three sided bar and the tasting staff girl was quick to get us set up and started on our first taste. There is an extensive list to taste from with Pinot Noir, Malbec and Barbera to Zinfandel, Cabernet, Syrah and some blends.
The girls were quick to give us a taste of what they thought we would like based on our comments from the last taste. What can we say we had a great time and most all the wine is quite good (5-7) and nearly all is *** priced. We enjoyed the 2007 Dusi Zinfandel and Kiwi opened bottle at home later in the week, a good drop (7)! We would like to give you a taste by taste account, but the account got, er shall we say corrupted!
Look if you’re in the area and are up for a good time and would like a taste of some good wines then stop by and enjoy one of Paso Robles good ole boy wineries. The Tobin James winery is a guaranteed fun time with some good wine. This is a must visit.
We need a more disciplined approach next time!

At this time Kiwi and Koala had completed their mission for the day and the girls were asked what they would like to do. So a drive to the west side (46 west) to the top of the mountains for some beautiful views of Morro Rock and the ocean ensued. It was mentioned at this time that there was some nice winery in the area that they would like to see. As it turns out what we were looking for is in Napa! But by chance we found a great little gem, Epoch. Apparently it was their one year anniversary and tasting was free! Sweeeet! It was small and lively and reminded Kiwi of tasting rooms at home with a very modern contemporary feel with views of rolling hills, although no sheep, but they did have a shag rug by the fire (could hardly keep him off it). We were quickly welcomed in and the tasting staff were attentive and friendly and could speak to the wines quite well. At one point in time one of the tasting girls went out to the door to welcome in a couple that were frozen by the door looking for an open spot at the bar. She brought them in found a spot and they were off. Thumbs up from Kiwi and Koala for a job well done young lady tasting room person! We also had the pleasure of hearing some of the history from Jenna and discovered what an amazing heritage this winery has taken in and how proud
they are of it. An interesting and intriguing story. We are looking forward to following their progress and tasting the upcoming releases of wines. Oh yea, you want to know how the wine was. Well good. Since it was a bit late in the day and we had had a Tobin experience just prior it would probably not be fair to get too detailed. So that being said we all had a great tasting room experience with good wines and great service and we both purchased wine. An energetic tasting room with lots of great help behind the bar. A bit off the main road but well worth a visit. We will be back though because we believe this is worth a proper look, er taste.

As we headed home we decided to stop for dinner and as we came into Paso Robles we pulled up at Buona Tavola and thought why not! Great choice, and although we were early we were welcomed in and seated. We engaged the staff in a wine discussion and took their suggestion and had a nice Super Tuscan to go with dinner. The appetizer plate of three different types of Allesina Salamis and prosciutto with cheeses and dips was fantastic, as was the artisan breads and the olivata spread.
Two orders of the prosciutto wrappe Fillet Migion special, a salmon and a pumpkin tortellini were consumed. The food tasted excellent, was well presented and delivered in a timely manner. A Crema Di Vaniglia Della Buona Tavola desert with extra spoons, a Cappuccino and a Limoncello finished of a great meal. We will be back to eat here again that’s for sure!

So that was our day! Kiwi and Koala would like to thank their better halves for putting up with their wanker behavior, their tosser comments to the tasting staff, and their poncey attitudes.

Happy Tasting Adventures,


Kiwi & Koala

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We are always on a WineWalkabout looking for a good drop. Please comment and ask questions about the things you like or would like to read and see. Don't drink without pants on!