Saturday, March 17, 2012
Central Coast Wine Day Recap
I first came to appreciate wines from Paso Robles during a wine dinner at Aujourd'hui (may it RIP) that included the wonderful Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel and Saxum Syrah. Not long after that, I connected with Bill Grant and the wines of Four Vines, which helped me learn more about the region.
The premise of #ccwineday is pretty simple. Some California wineries, shops and wine bars hosted live events, but those of us far from California wine country were able to join in at home. It simply required picking up a bottle or two of Central Coast wines and sharing our notes on Twitter, using the #ccwineday tag.
I'd forgotten about the event during my usual Saturday afternoon tasting at Pairings Wine and Food. But fortunately, they keep a good stock of Central Coast wines (particularly after their travels there, described on their blog), so I was able to quickly get my hands on two promising bottles.
I started with the 2010 Hahn Winery Santa Lucia Highland Chardonnay. I noted the straw color, lighter than some chards, and detected butterscotch on the nose. At first I tasted citrus fruit and caramel, with just a touch of little butter. Many other #ccwineday friends also started with this one, and several noted the pineapple. After seeing their tweets, I tasted again and did find that t be an apt description of the fruit.
I commented on how this Hahn chard was more restrained by the often over-oaked California chards. This led to an empathetic Twitter exchange between @UCBeau and @PeachyCynWinery. Based on the description of their wine making process (no oak at all), it sounds like Peachy Canyon Winery also makes a chard worth trying for those of us who like a more austere style. I can see why Hahn Winery was interested in helping put this #ccwineday together, as they were getting great tweets about both their chardonnay and their pinot noir.
After a glass or so of the chard, I was ready for a red. I've gotten to be a big Bonny Doon Vineyard fan, so thought I'd give their 2009 Contra Old Vine Field Blend. I got explosive fruit from the first taste, and loved its nice long finish. After I tweeted something to that effect, Bonny Doon owner and winemaker Randall Grahm chimed in with some comments, which was fun. (Randall is a great one to follow for lots of fun and informative tweets on wine and various other subjects).
Randall is friendly but he didn't tweet back the details on the Contra blend, and I can see why...I think it would be greater than 140 characters! The blend is comprised of 55% carignan, 16% grenache, 14% mourvèdre, 7% petite sirah, 5% zinfandel, and 3% syrah. The carignan in the lead position gives it some good flavor, softened a bit by some of the other grapes.
Both wines I sampled also have the virtue of being under $15; serving as a good reminder that good quality wines can be made in that price range in the hands of talented, dedicated winemakers; as Randall and the Hahns exemplify.
Of course, there are wonderful wines to be had from Napa and Sonoma; but this #ccwineday served as a great reminder that great wines can be had from the area south of San Francisco as well--and often for a more affordable price!