We spent this past weekend in the Paso Robles area enjoying the fine wines and visiting some new wineries. Here is my review of the wineries and the wines we enjoyed.
Dark Star Cellars- I am a big fan of Norm and Susan Benson's winery, Dark Star Cellars, so much so we served their Ricordati ($32) at our wedding.
During this visit I once again enjoyed the Ricordati as well as the Anderson Road ($28), a nice wine that is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Syrah (45%) and Petite Syrah (10%). Be sure to say hi to Gracie their dog too while you are there.
Attached to Dark Star Cellars is their son’s tasting room, Brian Benson.
Brian has a completely different style of wine making that his father does and he is doing it very well. The two tasting rooms are a perfect contrast to wine styles. Brian’s wines are big, bold, mouthfuls of flavor. He has experimented as well; to his credit he has a Syrah that he aged for 40 months in French Oak barrels and it is a delicious wine that shows well, and has a tremendous finish.
But I have to say the wine that totally knocked my socks off was his 2008 Zinfandel ($40). It was my favorite wine of the entire weekend. For me it was a classic California Zinfandel. It had bright fruit, balanced acidity and notes of blackberry, anise and pepper. It is a beautiful wine that had me thinking about it the entire weekend.
Justin Winery- Our next stop was Justin, while we were there because they had a Holiday Party Open House, where we could tour the Justin home (which is beautiful) we also had tasting of some of their fine wines. My favorites were Isosceles ($63) and Justification ($45). We also had tasting so the Reserve Isosceles ($75), not my favorite and I really do not see much difference in the two Isosceles available; I would much rather drink the regular and save some money.
kukkula- Following Justin we headed down the road to a new winery for me, kukkula, a winery from a Finish family. In September of 2010, kukkula completed construction on their winery and tasting room. The modern structure is partially dug into the hillside and incorporates innovative materials, such as rust colored insulated panels, and gabion rock cages. The vineyard uses dry farming to bring out the most in the fruit, and the wines show that character. My favorite wine was their GSM, called sisu ($30). It was a typical GSM (which I love) with notes of blackberry, cherry, violet.
Mondo- It was getting late in the day and we decided to hit one more. One couple in our group is a wine club member of Mondo, so we ventured to their beautiful tasting room. If you like inexpensive Rhone and Bordeaux style wines, and then I suggest Mondo. The wines ranged in price from $16 to $24 a bottle and you can’t go wrong with any of them. If you want easy drinking every day wines, then I suggest the The Truck ($18) a blend of 25% Zinfandel, 13% Syrah, 13% Merlot, 13% Petite Sirah, 12% Mourvedre, 12% Tempranillo and 12% Tannat. Or the La Rocca ($20) a smooth, velvety red Rhone blend of 56% Grenache, 16% Mourvedre, 15% Petite Sirah and 13% Syrah.
For dinner we ended up at Chico’s Caffe in downtown Paso Robles, it was nice that they could get us in on a short notice with our party of 9. I highly recommend Chico’s for seafood. The prices were right and the wine list (yes after wine tasting all day we were able to kill off two more bottles) is excellent.