Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

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Blake Brown
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Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#1 Post by Blake Brown » October 28th, 2019, 6:07 am

Our monthly blind tasting group enjoyed another event earlier this year which featured a theme of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Paso Robles appellation.

One of our members hosted it on the outside patio of his home and is the custom, provided a couple of starter wines and an assortment of tasty appetizers. The ambience was pretty amazing as we were located at the top of the Santa Barbara Riviera on an evening that allowed for amazing views of the city below and the ocean, channel islands and pre and post sunset auras in the background.

We had 14 wines brown bagged and tasted in 3 flights, 2 of 5 and 1 of 4.

First flight of 5 blind wines:

2004 FALCONE FAMILY VINEYARDS MIA`S VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- the color seemed to indicate some age; the nose had pleasant and inviting nice smoky wood spice laden dark fruit; on the palate, red and black currant and plum fruit was embellished by the accents found in the aromas; it had good feel and length and was an overall good wine; I scored it #3 in the flight while the group score gave it 1st place.

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1988 MERIDIAN CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- I remember this producer put out some excellent QPR wines in the day under the tutelage of legendary winemaker, Chuck Ortman this 88` Cab was really good, in fact, many years ago, I put it in an empty 85` Chateau Latour bottle and tricked another wine group when it was tasted non blind- it was the WOTN and then I took a beating for the ruse once it was revealed; oh, for the sake of being objective; the color of this wine definitely denoted age with a little bricking and a fading purple hue; the nose showed mature dried and spicy fruit; the taste had earth and slightly sweet dried cranberry/ cherry notes; it was medium to full bodied and overall, a nicely aged wine ready to drink now; it turns out to be my fav of the flight, not so much for the group which has a history of tough love for older wines.

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1985 EBERLE WINERY CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- that this came up randomly blind after the Meridian is amazing in that Gary Eberle and Chuck Ortman were best of friends and known for exchanging radical gifts at Christmas time with Ortman eventually presenting the coup de gras, a bottle of, or so the label claimed, “Eberle Winery P… of the Boar, Bakersfield White Zinfandel.” The label featured a grinning pig looking over his shoulder while doing exactly what the label described; the color of this wine was a rusty brown purple; the nose had pleasant dried and sweet fruit notes; on the palate, the sweetness disappeared and in came tasty dried blackberry with a touch of mint; it was full bodied and finished quite astringent; my #2 and groups #4 in the flight. P… of the Boar like.

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2005 CARINA CELLARS CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA- an out of theme bring, but welcomed none the same as it provided enough joy to place 2nd in the flight although it was my #4; the color seemed youthful in retrospect to its vintage, the aromas suggested a huge extracted wine with super ripe fruit; the taste confirmed it with massive doses of black currant and black cherry with accents of licorice and oak spice; I downgraded it due it being so out of balance and having overpowering, untamed energy; in time perhaps, this settles in and hits it on all cylinders and knowing the winemaker who never has made a bashful wine, I would assume that to be the case.

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2009 L`ADVENTURE ESTATE STEPHAN VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- the color was a dark, youthful vibrant purple; the nose was very much like the wine before it with not so subtle hints of a huge, extracted wine; a blast of sweet and oaky black cherry starts it out and never lets up all the way through; it seemed really big and a bit clumsy just looking for some place to settle in and take a breath; again, it just needs time and a long decant; i called it last and the group scored it mid flight.

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Second blind flight of 5:

2010 VENTEUX VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- the color denoted some age although once revealed, its not that old; the nose had mature fruit notes that on the palate translated into talc, sandalwood and sweetened red and black fruit with cherry, the maraschino type, most prevalent; the oaky notes dominated especially past mid palate; it came in last in the flight.

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2011 TOWER 15 RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- decanted 1 hour; 15.5% abv; a second label for Pali Wine Co.; named after the lifeguard tower at the Pacific Palisades portion of the Santa Monica beach; again, oak seemed to prevail over and above any and all other notes as it was evident from the nose through the tail; there’s smoky black currant aromas, then very sweet black cherry comes in and finishes it off with oak laden notes abounding; most had this at 4th in the flight.

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2014 AUGUST RIDGE ESTATE RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- produced by Backer Family Wines; youthful in color and style, there was a bit of smoke in the nose followed by sweet and ripe mostly black cherry fruit; it had a smooth texture and oak laden notes at the back end; the group scored it 2nd, it was my #4 tied with the one above.

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2016 JUSTIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- the color was of red purple; the nose had a lot of oak influence with talc and wood spice dominating the fruit which was more like my childhood movie going candy treat, jujube, which is more grapey like the Sunday morning communion shots I recall; unlike previous splendid experiences with this producers Cabs, this seemed simple and unexciting and it got voted pretty low accordingly; perhaps it’s a bottle variation or in a valley stage before reaching its peak.
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2015 DAOU RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- the color indicated a youthful wine with its vibrant dark purple hue; the nose was replete with smoky back cherry; the taste also included sweet black currant with a hit of talc; this is a big boy with lots of depth and layered complexity; it’s even got some semblance of balance and I’m liking it to the extent of scoring it #1 as did the group.

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Third blind flight of 4:

2017 AUSTIN HOPE RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- the color definitely suggested a youngster and that’s what we had; cinnamon and nutmeg join the sweet black cherry fruit in this full bodied, complex wine; it’s high energy and a bit unsettled as to where it is going to land, but it seems worth the effort to track it and give it some time before returning; I had it 2nd in the flight and the overall group score had it tied for 1st.

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2016 DAOU RESERVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- inky dark purple color; the first hit on the nose is of smoke, then a mellow fruit profile comes in with plenty of fresh, ripe dark fruity notes; the taste clearly identified the fruit as being black currant, blackberry and black cherry and an accent of dark chocolate fills in nicely; this had elegance and yet some power and was very approachable at this young stage; my #1 in the flight as it was for the group in a tie.

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2016 JUSTIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON PASO ROBLES- yes, we had a dup, not rare when the theme is such that some of the folks go out and buy a bottle before the event; not knowing it was already tasted and not recognized as having been, the notes reflect some differences in that this fruit profile was a much more distinct blackberry in lieu of the jujube analogy,; it had less oakiness and much more sweetness throughout; it also had a nice smooth mouthfeel; overall, it was a better wine with much more appeal then the first bottle; I scored it 3rd and the group had it 4th, last in this flight.

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2015 JUSTIN ISOSCELES PASO ROBLES- 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 11% Merlot; 15% abv; radish purple in color; sweet dark chocolate comes on in the aromatics and continues on in the taste to provide accents to the blackberry, black currant, plum and black cherry fruit; it seemed to lack substance and sustainability; I also scored it 3rd in the flight, the group had it 2nd.

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A little about the Paso Robles AVA:
Paso Robles has made a name for itself as a source of supple, powerful, fruit-driven wines wines. But with 11 smaller sub-AVAs, there is actually quite a bit of diversity to be found in this inland portion of California’s Central Coast.
Just east over the Santa Lucia Mountains from the chilly Pacific Ocean, lie the coolest in the region: Adelaida, Templeton Gap and (Paso Robles) Willow Creek Districts, as well as York Mountain AVA and Santa Margarita Ranch. These all experience more ocean fog, wind and precipitation compared to the rest of the Paso sub-appellations. The San Miguel, (Paso Robles) Estrella, (Paso Robles) Geneso, (Paso Robles) Highlands, El Pomar and Creston Districts, along with San Juan Creek, are the hotter, more western appellations of the greater Paso Robles AVA.
This is mostly red wine country, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel standing out as the star performers. Other popular varieties include Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Grenache and Rhône blends, both red and white. There is a fairly uniform tendency here towards wines that are unapologetically bold and opulently fruit-driven, albeit with a surprising amount of acidity thanks to the region’s chilly nighttime temperatures.

The blind tasting conclusions: Although I did not note the alcohol content on most wines, this wine region seems to have really high amounts almost across the board. Also, I find that most wines are struggling to find some semblance of balance and both of these factors certainly were true for this tasting.

Cheers,
Blake
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
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“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Victor Hong
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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#2 Post by Victor Hong » October 28th, 2019, 6:23 am

Fun when the old, cheap stuff really struts.
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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#3 Post by C Chen » October 28th, 2019, 7:07 am

Got palate fatigue just reading this :p
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Mike Grammer
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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#4 Post by Mike Grammer » October 28th, 2019, 8:43 am

You're mean--funny, but mean :)

Lots of fun to read about the older wines in this blind, Blake---I have zero experience ageing any Paso Cabs---or any wines from there for that matter.

Used to love Justin, not as much anymore. My friend Bernie is a huge fan of Austin Hope. The Daous sound big, but also possibly within my enjoyment wheelhouse based on your descriptions.

Best,

Mike
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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#5 Post by Blake Brown » October 28th, 2019, 8:46 am

Mike Grammer wrote:
October 28th, 2019, 8:43 am
You're mean--funny, but mean :)

Lots of fun to read about the older wines in this blind, Blake---I have zero experience ageing any Paso Cabs---or any wines from there for that matter.

Used to love Justin, not as much anymore. My friend Bernie is a huge fan of Austin Hope. The Daous sound big, but also possibly within my enjoyment wheelhouse based on your descriptions.

Best,

Mike
Thanks Mike. As you have noticed, I changed the format back to the one I have used before for blind TNs. Preference? Suggestions?
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
Napolean Bonaparte

“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#6 Post by Michael Martin » October 28th, 2019, 8:54 am

I like posts like this. They are always fun to read.

Justin cabs and blends have always underwhelmed me and I see pallets of them at Costco which always makes me wonder. Of course its right next to the pallet of the Prisoner. LOL.

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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#7 Post by Kris Patten » October 28th, 2019, 10:10 am

Surprised to see all the Justin but no J. Lohr, their Hilltop bottling would be an interesting addition. Austin Hope bottling is only 3 or 4 vintages in, but it's done really well especially the 15 and 16.
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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#8 Post by Mike Grammer » October 28th, 2019, 10:24 am

Blake Brown wrote:
October 28th, 2019, 8:46 am

Thanks Mike. As you have noticed, I changed the format back to the one I have used before for blind TNs. Preference? Suggestions?
I did notice [grin.gif] My preference is for whatever mode you feel most comfortable writing up the notes in. Your magic is bringing such life to your notes and sessions. Wouldn't want to change that for anything.
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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#9 Post by Blake Brown » October 28th, 2019, 1:29 pm

Mike Grammer wrote:
October 28th, 2019, 10:24 am
Blake Brown wrote:
October 28th, 2019, 8:46 am

Thanks Mike. As you have noticed, I changed the format back to the one I have used before for blind TNs. Preference? Suggestions?
I did notice [grin.gif] My preference is for whatever mode you feel most comfortable writing up the notes in. Your magic is bringing such life to your notes and sessions. Wouldn't want to change that for anything.
Appreciate your feedback Mike, I'll stick with what I'm moved to do
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
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“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Hmmmm...

#10 Post by TomHill » October 28th, 2019, 2:10 pm

Hmmmm, Blake. Meridian CS into a Latour btl?? You are a bad person, Blake!!
I recall Gary showing me the btl that ChuckOrtman made up for him. Whatta hoot that was.
Looks like a really fun tasting.
Tom

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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#11 Post by Mike Evans » October 28th, 2019, 6:31 pm

Mike Grammer wrote:
October 28th, 2019, 8:43 am
You're mean--funny, but mean :)

Lots of fun to read about the older wines in this blind, Blake---I have zero experience ageing any Paso Cabs---or any wines from there for that matter.

Used to love Justin, not as much anymore. My friend Bernie is a huge fan of Austin Hope. The Daous sound big, but also possibly within my enjoyment wheelhouse based on your descriptions.

Best,

Mike
I have a 1992 Justin Isosceles in the cellar, I’ll try to remember to post a note if I drink it before I see you next.

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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#12 Post by Alex N » October 28th, 2019, 10:27 pm

I need to revisit Austin Hope. I've had it a bunch and thought it was so oaked and full of vanilla and spun sugar, kind of flat, and continue to turn it down at $18/bottle which is a steal so I really want to like that wine. My friends love it. I absolutely loved the mixed case of Falcone wines I had recently.
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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#13 Post by J. Rock » October 28th, 2019, 11:09 pm

I love the Austin Hope GSM. I think AH gets a bad rap because of some association with Wagner...? But, I've had it several times and really like it.
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Re: Hmmmm...

#14 Post by Blake Brown » October 29th, 2019, 1:20 am

TomHill wrote:
October 28th, 2019, 2:10 pm
Hmmmm, Blake. Meridian CS into a Latour btl?? You are a bad person, Blake!!
I recall Gary showing me the btl that ChuckOrtman made up for him. Whatta hoot that was.
Looks like a really fun tasting.
Tom
I know, I know, that was a terrible thing to do and I haven't ever considered doing it again since- well maybe once or twice. It did serve to prove the point about how subjective we are, and in this case, how an inexpensive wine can be so good.

I'd love to see a photo of the bottle Chuck had made up. Any around?
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“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#15 Post by Blake Brown » October 29th, 2019, 1:30 am

Alex N wrote:
October 28th, 2019, 10:27 pm
My friends love it. I absolutely loved the mixed case of Falcone wines I had recently.
Quite a few years ago, John Falcone attended some of our lunch group outings at the invite of one of our members and he would bring some of his wines from the early stages, just after being bonded in 2004. We all loved them and encouraged him to go forward and he did and is shinning ever so brightly today. He is a good guy and I'm happy to see him doing well and the wine we had showed well.
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
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“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#16 Post by Nick F. » October 29th, 2019, 6:51 am

Alex N wrote:
October 28th, 2019, 10:27 pm
I need to revisit Austin Hope. I've had it a bunch and thought it was so oaked and full of vanilla and spun sugar, kind of flat, and continue to turn it down at $18/bottle which is a steal so I really want to like that wine. My friends love it. I absolutely loved the mixed case of Falcone wines I had recently.
At that price, its worth keeping a case for gifting...

Its a big wine, but has its place depending on the crowd.
i a s c o n e

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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#17 Post by Kris Patten » October 29th, 2019, 12:11 pm

Duplicate
Last edited by Kris Patten on October 29th, 2019, 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ITB

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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#18 Post by Kris Patten » October 29th, 2019, 12:35 pm

Alex N wrote:
October 28th, 2019, 10:27 pm
I need to revisit Austin Hope. I've had it a bunch and thought it was so oaked and full of vanilla and spun sugar, kind of flat, and continue to turn it down at $18/bottle which is a steal so I really want to like that wine. My friends love it. I absolutely loved the mixed case of Falcone wines I had recently.
Restaurant pricing....wholesale no less. Every vintage has sold out so fast, I can't tell you I have ever had one that was older than 3 months from bottling and actually settled down. I should have stashed a couple 14s and 15s, but we just sold thru them too fast, same with 16 and 17.
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Re: Blind tasting of 14 Paso Robles Cabs

#19 Post by Randy Smith » October 29th, 2019, 2:05 pm

Love the Falcone lineup. Solid values, too.
http://www.thewinewrite.com/

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