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The Freewheel line with a couple of English friends.

It takes a lot of beer to keep the wine business running smoothly. Here in Redwood City, we are very fortunate to have a great English style ale producer right in our backyard: Freewheel Brewing Company. The staff of K&L are fictures at our local pub, and it is a rare moment when one of us isn't there having a pint and a bite of their excellent food. We are also lucky enough to be the first place to offer their bottled beer for sale. If you have never had it, the Freewheel Brewing "FSB" Freewheel Special Bitter, California (500ml) is the benchmark in fresh, balanced, smashable ale. We will do our best to keep some in stock for you, the customer too!

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Upcoming Events

We host regular weekly and Saturday wine tastings in each K&L location.

For the complete calendar, including lineups and additional details related to our events, visit our K&L Local Events on KLWines.com or follow us on Facebook.  

 

Visit our events page on Facebook or the K&L Spirits Journal for more information.

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Entries from July 1, 2011 - July 31, 2011

Thursday
Jul142011

Behind the Wine: Sommelier Service at Justin

Justin Vineyards & Winery is one of the featured producers in the Paso Robles Wine Alliance Tastings taking place tonight at K&L RWC (7/14) at K&L SF and tomorrow (7/15) at K&L RWC.

Go to our event pages on Facebook and KLWines.com for more details!

               Inspired by the First Growths of Bordeaux, former investment banker Justin Baldwin founded JUSTIN with the goal of producing Bordeaux-styled wines in the US. "He came upon Paso Robles in his search for a place to do this," relates Jim Gerakaris, JUSTIN Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator, "and saw great potential with the soils and climate of the region." Image courtesy of JUSTIN.JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery is a family owned and operated winery making estate grown and produced wines in Paso Robles, CA. Founded in 1981 by Justin and Deborah Baldwin, JUSTIN began with 160 acres planted to the major Bordeaux varietals and the goal of producing wines in the style of the great wines of Bordeaux. In addition to estate wines, today JUSTIN also works with a handful of small growers in Paso Robles.  

Higher limestone concentration in the soils at JUSTIN "promotes higher drainage and lower nutrient value," explains Gerakaris, "which naturally reduces our yields, keeps the vines reaching into the ground for water and nutrients. Along with our large summer diurnal change in temperatures, these conditions produce an ideal, natural structure of acidity and tannins in our wines contributing to their balance, and longevity." Image courtest of JUSTIN.When JUSTIN started, there were fewer than 10wineries in Paso.  Since those early days the region has exploded to include hundreds of wineries, many of which produce modern, fruity wines meant for near-term consumption. The wines of Justin are different - classically styled, balanced and ageworthy. As a result, JUSTIN takes wine education and service very seriously, incorporating specialized sommelier services, department training, hospitality, and overall customer services to ensure their wines are appreciated to the fullest extent possible.

Whether you're not sure when to open that special bottle, looking to build a vertical collection, or are interested in learning more about wine in general, JUSTIN has many resources for you, from Master Sommelier Joseph Spellman, who heads up the Mid-West Marketing and Sales Department, to Jim Gerakaris, Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator on site at the estate and the subject of today's Behind the Wine interview below: 

Q&A with Jim Gerakaris, JUSTIN Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator 

How did JUSTIN get started?  What is your role?

My name is Jim Gerakaris, [and I'm] the Winery Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator here at JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery.  I work with our guests and various departments here at the winery to educate and provide information and training about our wines and wine in general.  I also manage our library and conduct educational reserve tastings that include everything from library wines to barrel samples, or both!

For cellaring advice, food and wine pairing tips, and other specialized sommelier services, guests to Justin in Paso Robles look to Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator Jim Gerakaris. JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery was founded by Justin Baldwin, a former investment banker who was so affected after tasting a few of the [Bordeaux's] 1st Growths that he decided to make a wine in that style here in the United States.  He came upon Paso Robles in his search for a place to do this and saw great potential with the soils and climate of the region.

How has the region of Paso Robles changed since JUSTIN was founded?  How has JUSTIN changed since then?

There were eight other wineries here when Justin Baldwin purchased the property.  They were growing mostly Zinfandel at that time and the idea of producing a high quality, Bordeaux-style wine was not a part of the mainstream thought.  The soils and climate are ideally suited to growing grapes with concentrated and complex fruit character, but with great balance, whether you are growing Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.  We have grown steadily in size and in quality and you will see a continuation of this through our mission statement “to belong in the company of the finest wines in the world."

Describe the viticultural and winemaking philosophy at JUSTIN.

Justin studied the 1st Growth Bordeaux Château and used the same grape varieties, vineyard care, low yields, careful attention to the vines during the season, and hand harvesting when the grapes showed the highest promise for making balanced and ageworthy wines.  He also used many of the same cellar techniques typical to a high quality Bordeaux producer: specifically their attention to careful and ruthless sorting of the fruit, extended time with the skins and predominant use of the highest quality free-run wines to make the best blends. 

Where is JUSTIN located? What is it about this site that makes it uniquely suited to producing Bordeaux varietals?

Justin produces Bordeaux-styled wines that can be tannic when young and thus benefit from time in the cellar. Curious about when to open that bottle? Click on the image above to view the JUSTIN Ageing Chart. image courtesy of JUSTIN.We are located in the far western part of the Paso Robles AVA, about 15 miles west of the city of Paso Robles at about 1,200 to 1,900 feet above sea level.  This gives us slightly lower temperatures in the summer, and more rainfall in the winter.  Our soils have a high concentration of limestone from calcareous deposits formed when the area was under the oceans.  The uprising of the mountain range just west of us exposed this layer of almost solid limestone and it eroded from the mountains toward the city of Paso Robles. For this reason it is of a higher limestone concentration in the west than it is toward the city.  This higher limestone concentration provides our soil with good drainage and lower nutrient value that naturally reduces our yields, keeps the vines reaching into the ground for water and nutrients. Along with our large summer diurnal change in temperatures, these conditions produce an ideal, natural structure of acidity and tannins in our wines contributing to their balance, and longevity.

What do the words "organic," "biodynamic," and "sustainable" mean to you?  How are these practices applied at JUSTIN?

These are all valid methods to improve the quality of our wines.  In any endeavor, the materials you start with dictate the outcome of your work.  In food, the best, fresh, locally grown ingredients, selected at the peak of their condition, will always yield the best, most distinctive results in the finished dish.  Wine is no different, and the highest quality, grapes picked at the peak of their condition gives us the best result with little or no need to try and balance the wines made from them. 

JUSTIN employs practices from all three schools of production - organic, sustainable and biodynamic - in the vineyard and in the winery. "Our Vineyard Manager, Paul Kaselionis is an advocate of staying in touch with each of the blocks in the vineyard personally," says Gerakaris, "using minimal intervention for any problems that might arise." Image courtesy of JUSTIN.Organic, Biodynamic, and Sustainable practices all contribute to the health of a vineyard and subsequently the quality of the grapes we use for making our wines.  Their approaches may be slightly different, but the idea is similar: to provide the best fruit while promoting continued excellence in the future. 

Sustainable practices take a holistic approach toward everything done by the operation. Ideally this improves everything from the vineyard through the entire winery to assure that the vines, the people and the ecosystem surrounding all are maintained in a way that allows them to coexist indefinitely in balance. 

Organic addresses problem solving in the vineyard with "natural" intervention, when necessary, that is to say without the use of synthetic (especially petroleum-based) inputs. 

Biodynamic is a bit more all encompassing and proactive. It regards the health of the soils as the primary concern.  If the soil is healthy, the vines will thrive, if the vines thrive, the wines will be at their best, if the wines are at their best, the people who work for the winery will be well provided for, and consequently, the soils and vineyard will be well tended, completing the circle.  Biodynamics also incorporates a hyper- sensitivity to all conditions in the vineyard including things we cannot see, or always understand, but nevertheless need to be accepted in order to gain the overall benefits of the method.  This is where many people get a little skeptical about some aspects of Biodynamics (burying cow horns, phases of the moon, etc.), but the differences made  in just a few years practice can be substantial.

At JUSTIN, we have been using all of these methods to some degree, but we have not sought certification.  Almost half of our estate vineyard is on a biodynamic program, which includes spraying preparations, composting and pruning or even picking by the Biodynamic calendar.  Our Vineyard Manager, Paul Kaselionis is an advocate of staying in touch with each of the blocks in the vineyard personally, using minimal intervention for any problems that might arise. In essence we are using techniques from all three schools including techniques such as mechanical weeding, predatory bird control of rodents and composting.  In fact, what we have found is that as we get further into balancing these programs, we have had to do less direct intervention because the general health of the vineyard has been improving, and as a result, the quality of our grapes has improved.

What's your position on wine-pairing and what do you like to pair JUSTIN wines with?

Of course as a Certified Sommelier," explains Gerakaris, "I am always concerned about how our wines pair with food. One of the reasons both our Master Sommelier Joe Spellman and I are a part of our wine education staff, is that our wines are so well matched for food pairing." Above, visitors to JUSTIN enjoy JUSTIN food and wine pairings on the Patio at the estate. Image courtesy of JUSTIN.Of course as a Certified Sommelier, I am always concerned about how our wines pair with food.  One of the reasons both our Master Sommelier Joe Spellman and I are a part of our wine education staff, is that our wines are so well matched for food pairing.  Our "house style" is that of Bordeaux and of course these are very food friendly wines, especially after they are cellared for a few years.  The combination of our soils and climate here in Paso Robles gives us wines that have great concentration and complexity, but with a structure that balances the wines and allows them to be an elegant companion to food at the table.

For instance, we have a wine called SAVANT, which is a blend of mostly Syrah with about 25-35% Cabernet.  While there is full fruit intensity in this wine as well as an underpinning of deep spicy tones, the acidity and tannin structure help make the wine perfectly well behaved at the table, complimenting food instead of competing with it.  Because of the wonderful peppery aspect of the Syrah and a smoky spice that our barrel fermented Syrah adds to the blend, it goes well with lamb or game dishes, especially when herbs are added to the mix.

On the other end of the spectrum, our JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon  is our most popular and widely available wine.  A lighter styled cab, this wine is very popular in restaurants around the country since it complements, rather than competes with various dishes.  For about $25 it provides quality, balance and complexity rarely seen in this price range.

2008 Justin "Isosceles" Paso Robles Red Blend ($49.99; 91-93pts RP) is in stock and available now at KLWines.com!Our anchor wines are ISOSCELES and JUSTIFICATION, styled respectively after the Left and Right Bank wines of Bordeaux.  The ISOSCELES, with its primary Cabernet component, is the perfect match to a full flavored, grilled New York steak, while the Cabernet Franc based JUSTIFICATION is perfect with the more subtle offerings like fillet mignon, duck or pheasant.

What advice do you have to offer people interested in learning more about JUSTIN and the wines of Paso Robles?

Come out and see us!  I have traveled to many wine regions around the world and found that if you want to truly understand the soul of a particular wine or its region, you need to visit and see it in its natural element. 

We hold a number of educational tours and tastings at the winery; everything from our daily facility tour to special reserve tastings in our ISOSCELES library located 120 feet underground in our caves. To get a better idea of how our wines pair with various types of food, join us for dinner in our restaurant, where we feature our wines paired with a seasonal menu created by our Executive Chef, Will Torres.  We also offer lunch on our Wishing Well Patio on weekends.

During harvest, we offer guided tours of the production during the week so you can get a closer look at the care we take in harvesting and sorting our fruit, as well as a good look at our winemaking process.  For more information about any of these programs, just visit us at http://www.justinwine.com/.

TASTE AND SHOP JUSTIN WINES THIS WEEK AT K&L!

What: Paso Robles Wine Alliance Tastings at K&L

When: 5pm-6:30pm Thursday 7/14 in San Francisco and Friday 7/15 in Redwood City

Where: K&L SF and K&L RWC

Details:  on facebook  on KLWines.com

***

SHOP

Buy JUSTIN Wines now on KLWines.com

Wednesday
Jul132011

Behind the Wine: The Ancient Peaks Family

Ancient Peaks is one of the featured wineries in the Paso Robles Wine Alliance Tastings coming up at K&L SF and RWC this week on Thursday 7/14 and Friday 7/15 respectively. 

Go to our event pages on Facebook and KLWines.com for more details!

    Above, Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins is pictured with the rest of the Ancient Peaks "family", which is actually three families: the Filipponis, Rossis, and Wittstroms.

Ancient Peaks is a small family-owned estate winery that produces wine from a single site, the Margarita Vineyard, which was first planted to vines by the Franciscan missionaries in 1774. Situated in the Santa Lucia Mountain Range near the San Luis Obispo border, 14 miles from the ocean, the Margarita Vineyard is the most southerly site within the Paso Robles appellation, where it enjoys a cooler climate and longer growing season than its neighbors to the north. The climate factor, combined with the unique and varying soil types of the Margarita Vineyard, result in the ability of Ancient Peaks to stand out in Paso as producers of terroir-drive wines wines with great balance and finesse.   

In this interview below, Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins of the Ancient Peaks family shares with us a little Ancient Peaks, as well as details regarding the unique terroir of the Margarita Vineyard and wine pairing advice. Read on: 


Q&A with Amada Wittstrom-Higgins of Ancient Peaks

How did Ancient Peaks get started? What is your role?

Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins (above). "We're a fairly small family winery, so we all wear a lot of hats." Image courtesy of Ancient Peaks.The winery is owned by three families-the Filipponis, Rossis, and Wittstroms. We are longtime friends, and we had owned Santa Margarita Ranch and Margarita Vineyard for more than five years prior to launching Ancient Peaks. We initially sold all of the fruit from Margarita Vineyard, and we could taste what other winemakers were accomplishing with it. It was pretty obvious that this was a special vineyard, and that is what inspired us to become vintners as well as winegrowers. We knew that we could cherry-pick our favorite blocks, take the fruit from ground to glass, and make some really distinctive wines with a strong sense of place.

My main role is to manage the national distribution and direct sales of Ancient Peaks wines. I also oversee our marketing initiatives, which include advertising, media relations and special events, as well as the Ancient Peaks tasting room. We're a fairly small family winery, so we all wear a lot of hats. 

Describe the Ancient Peaks winemaking philosophy.

For us, it comes down to three core winemaking values: ensuring that the unique character of the vineyard is vividly expressed in the wine; preserving and honoring true varietal character in each wine; and achieving natural quality without a reliance on heavy-handed winemaking techniques. 

"Our winemaker, Mike Sinor, takes great care to nurture the vineyard's pure fruit character throughout the winemaking process," says Amanda. "All of these things help us capture that strong sense of place and varietal character in the wines." Image courtesy of Ancient Peaks.Each of these values goes hand in hand. Because we grow our own fruit, we are able to control all facets of the winegrowing process, and that includes being dedicated to sustainable farming practices. Margarita Vineyard is also quite diverse, with five different soil zones and numerous microclimates. This enables us to mix and match different blocks to build natural dimension and complexity into the wine. Also, our winemaker, Mike Sinor, takes great care to nurture the vineyard's pure fruit character throughout the winemaking process. All of these things help us capture that strong sense of place and varietal character in the wines.

Where is the Margarita Vineyard situated and what makes the terroir unique?

Margarita Vineyard is tucked into the Santa Lucia Mountain Range outside the town of Santa Margarita, approximately 22 miles south of the City of Paso Robles and just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

When you come out to the vineyard, you immediately see why we chose the name Ancient Peaks for our winery. The mountain range towers over the vines along the western flank of the ranch. These mountains were created by the collision of the coastal plates, which also blessed us with a rare diversity of soils. There are five distinct soil zones at Margarita Vineyard-ancient sea bed, sedimentary, shale, volcanic and granitic. Each soil type brings its own nuance to the resulting wines. The most dramatic soil is found in a block that we call Oyster Ridge, where large white oyster fossils are literally spilling out of the ground.

Climate is another major factor that shapes our wines. The vineyard sits atop the Cuesta Grade, which is the natural border between the cooler conditions in San Luis Obispo to the south and the heart of Paso Robles to the north. We're right on the fogline. 

Margarita Vineyard encompasses five distinct geologic zones with varying soil types composed of the following profiles: granitic, volcanic, sedimentary, shale, and ancient sea bed. The most unique soil profile is found along the Oyster Ridge block, where the calcium-rich soil is full of petrified oyster shells (above). Image courtesy of Ancient Peaks. In the summer, it's not uncommon to see thick fog swirling along the top of the peaks, and that cooling effect extends the growing season, bringing added depth and balance to the fruit.

What are some of the challenges of producing wine in Paso Robles? Are there any special practices you employ at Ancient Peaks to overcome them?

If you travel around the entire Paso Robles AVA, you will discover a range of growing conditions. Margarita Vineyard occupies one of the coolest growing environments in the AVA. So our primary challenge is ensuring that our fruit gets sufficiently ripe-which is something you rarely hear in Paso Robles!

With later-ripening varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, we sometimes find ourselves on what we call "the edge of ripeness." That's actually right where we like to be, because it typically yields fruit with fine balance and varietal character.

During later harvests, however, it can be a bit stressful, especially if bad weather is looming. For this reason, in cooler years, we often take proactive measures, such as reducing crop loads and manipulating the vine canopies, all in an effort to make sure that the fruit that's left has the best chance to get sufficiently ripe. We are very meticulous in the vineyard, but sometimes we just have to go with our gut when it comes to deciding when to pick.

What's your position on wine-pairing and what do you like to pair Ancient Peaks wines with?

Amanda suggest The 2009 Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99) with an herb-rubbed filet mignon. This incredible deal in California Cabernet is in stock now on KLWines.comI think it's more about "guidelines" than "rules." Yes, there are some tried-and-true combinations with certain dishes and specific varietals. But that shouldn't stop you from being adventurous and creative, either. We make a few blends that are non-traditional in composition. They break the rules. So there can't be any rules when it comes to pairing them with food, either.

I'm probably most partial to pairing our wines with a variety of beef dishes, since we are cattle ranchers as well as winemakers. A couple of favorites are Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon with herb-rubbed filet mignon, and Ancient Peaks Zinfandel with classic Santa Maria-style tri-tip.

What advice do you have to offer people interested in learning more about Ancient Peaks and the wines of Paso Robles?

Come on down! The best way to learn more about Paso Robles is to hit the road and visit the wineries, and taste why our wines are getting so much recognition. You'll also discover that Paso Robles can't be easily generalized or categorized. The terrain is diverse, and the local winemaking community is creative and unafraid to take chances. Most of our wineries are family owned, too. It may sound like a cliché, but it's also true, and it's a big part of the welcoming culture of our wine country.

Our tasting room is in Santa Margarita, a small historic town between Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo, right off Highway 101. Here, you can taste all of our current releases, including our limited-edition White Label bottlings. We also offer vineyard and ranch tours by appointment on the first and third Saturdays of the month-there's no better way to learn about our wines than to experience Margarita Vineyard and see the soils that make it so special.

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TASTE AND SHOP ANCIENT PEAKS WINES THIS WEEK AT K&L!

What: Paso Robles Wine Alliance Tastings at K&L

When: 5pm-6:30pm Thursday 7/14 in San Francisco and Friday 7/15 in Redwood City

Where: K&L SF and K&L RWC

Details:  on facebook  on KLWines.com

***

SHOP

Buy Ancient Peaks Wines now on KLWines.com

 

Tuesday
Jul122011

Behind the Wine: Jason Haas and Tablas Creek

Tablas Creek is one of the featured wineries in the Paso Robles Wine Alliance Tastings coming up at K&L SF and RWC this week on Thursday 7/14 and Friday 7/15 respectively. 

Go to our event pages on Facebook and KLWines.com for more details!

Jason Haas (left) with father Robert Haas, who, in partnership with the Perrin Family of Chateau Beaucastel fame, founded Tablas Creek Vineyard in 1989 with the intention of producing wines in California to rival those Chateauneuf du Pape. Photo courtesy of Tablas Creek Vineyard.

Behind the Wine: Jason Haas and Tablas Creek

A joint partnership between the Robert Haas family of California and the Perrin family of Chateau Beaucastel in France’s Southern Rhone valley, Tablas Creek Vineyard has been dedicated to the production of classic Rhone-style wines from traditional Rhone varietals in California since its inception in 1987.  Situated in the hills north and west of Paso Robles, the first vines were imported directly from Chateau Beaucastel and planted in 1990.  Tablas Creek received organic certification in 2003 and today farms the 120 acre estate vineyard organically.  The estate is also home the Tablas Creek nursery, where Tablas Creek manages the reproduction of their vines.

Q&A with Jason Haas of Tablas Creek

How did Tablas Creek get started?  What is your role?

Chateau Beaucastel. Image courtesy of Tablas Creek Vineyard. Tablas Creek started in 1989, when my dad and the Perrin family bought a 120-acre former alfalfa farm and cattle ranch in the hills west of Paso Robles.  But the startup process was a long one; we imported grapevines from Beaucastel and had to wait while they underwent a USDA-mandated three-year quarantine.  We got the first vines out of quarantine in 1992, spent the next two years reproducing these vines, and started planting our vineyard in 1994.  Our first vintage of Tablas Creek was 1997.

My position is General Manager, which in a family business means to be the one who thinks strategically, who keeps everyone talking to each other, and who knows enough about all the different pieces of the business to evaluate whether we're making the right choices.  I spend the largest share of my time on our marketing, but might equally be found in the cellar, looking at spreadsheets, talking to people out in our tasting room or on the road spreading the word.
Tablas Creek is at 1500 feet elevation, "which further cools the vineyard at night, but we get wonderfully regular sunshine, which is important for the late-ripening Rhone varieties," says Jason Haas. Image courtesy of Tablas Creek Vineyard.
Describe the Tablas Creek viticultural and winemaking philosophy.

Our winemaking philosophy is to allow the grapes, the terroir, and the climate maximum expression in our wines.  To that end, we farm organically, keep yields low (2 to 3 tons per acre), dry-farm our estate vineyard most vintages (and several vineyard blocks every vintage) and harvest when grapes are in balance rather than striving for super-ripeness.  To harvest ripe, balanced grapes we make several passes through most vineyard blocks, harvesting selectively and leaving underripe clusters out for a later pass.

In the cellar, We use entirely native yeasts, avoid new oak, and choose to focus on blends of our Rhone varietals, to produce wines that are more about balanced than expressing a single powerful character.  Anyone who's interested in our thoughts on our winemaking can find lots more on the Tablas Creek blog.

Where is Tablas Creek Vineyard located? What is it about this site that makes it so well suited to growing Rhone varietals?

The Tablas Creek nursery. "Since 1996 we've sold millions of cuttings to more than 400 different vineyards and wineries in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas and Virginia, and contributed... to the renaissance in Rhone grapes that you're now seeing on the West Coast, " remarks Haas. Image courtesy of Tablas Creek Vineyard.Tablas Creek is in the limestone-rich hills west of Paso Robles, about halfway between the town of Paso Robles and the Pacific Ocean.  Paso Robles is a warm climate, shielded from the direct influence of the Pacific by the Santa Lucia Mountains, but we get lots of indirect impact, both in how much it cools down at night (45 degrees less than the daytime high is normal) and the amount of rainfall we receive in the winter months (nearly 30 inches annually).  We're at 1500 feet in elevation, which further cools the vineyard at night, but we get wonderfully regular sunshine, which is important for the late-ripening Rhone varieties we focus on.  Even better, our location in the eastern foothills of the Santa Lucias provides one of the richest limestone bands in California.  We searched for four years up and down California before finding this site.

Where did the original vines come from? How have you been able to reproduce them while maintaining authenticity?

The vines came from Beaucastel originally, and the fact that we went through the USDA's quarantine process (rather than smuggling them into the country in a suitcase undeclared) means that we can have confidence in the vines' origin and quality.  We have had good success reproducing the vines, and made what I think is a decision that What is terroir? At Tablas Creek, it's all about limestone-rich soils, high elevation, ample rain, warm days, cool nights, and a nice, long growing season. Click on the photo to learn more on the Tablas Creek Blog. Image courtesy of Tablas Creek Vineyard. doesn't get as much recognition as it should to make these vine cuttings available for purchase by other vineyards and wineries around the United States instead of trying to keep them proprietary.  Since 1996 we've sold millions of cuttings to more than 400 different vineyards and wineries in California, Washington, Oregon, Texas and Virginia, and contributed, I think, to the renaissance in Rhone grapes that you're now seeing on the West Coast.

Do vines behave differently when grown on Paso Robles soil versus the "galets" of Chateauneuf-du-Pape? What is distinctly Paso about your wines?

Of course.  Our climate here is more extreme than that of Chateauneuf du Pape; we're hotter during the day but even more colder during the night than Beaucastel.  This lengthens the ripening cycle, which makes it a good thing that we also have a longer growing season.  We typically harvest each varietal about two weeks later than does Beaucastel, with slightly higher sugars but also with higher acids.  The galets are prized in Chateauneuf because they trap the day's heat and allow the vines to better ripen their grapes before the onset of the rainy fall in mid-October.  We're happy to have our nighttime cooling since we can typically rely on good weather into mid-November.  I'd say that our wines show a primary character, a purity to the fruit, that you don't typically see in Chateauneuf du Pape.  Most Chateauneufs, even when they're young, show more earth and garrigue character than do our wines.  As the wines age, they get closer and closer together in character, as the youthful fruit in our wines recedes a bit to allow the earth and spice tones to show.  Overall, there are more similarities than differences, though.
 

What's your position on wine-pairing and what do you like to pair Tablas Creek wines with?

I'm strongly in favor of wine pairing :)2008 Tablas Creek "Esprit de Beaucastel Rouge" Paso Robles Rhône Blend 91-93 RP, 93 ST, 90 WS ($44.99) is in stock now at K&L!

Actually, it depends totally on the wine.  Our Mourvedre-based reds like our Esprit de Beaucastel pair great with richly flavored meats: think lamb, or boar, or beef on the grill (beef pairs well with nearly any red, which is one of its appeals).  Grenache-based reds like Cotes de Tablas pair great with foods with spice and vibrancy: grilled sausages, stews, or pastas with meat sauces.  Our Roussanne-based whites like our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc are great food wines; try them with crab or lobster, or even garlicky pork.  The Cotes de Tablas Blanc and Patelin de Tablas Blanc are both naturals with simple fish preparations or shellfish (mussels marinieres is always a spectacular pairing), or on their own.  And our Rosé is great with a plate of meats and cheeses, a bowl of gazpacho, or a mixed grill.

What advice do you have to offer people interested in learning more about Tablas Creek and the wines of Paso Robles?

Come and see us!  It's a lot closer to the Bay Area than most people think; I can usually make it from San Francisco to Paso Robles in a little over 3 hours.  And there's an amazing restaurant scene developing in Paso, as well as great places to stay, shop and visit.  But even if you can't come (or while you're waiting for your plans to come to fruition) there are great ways to experience Paso in your own back yard.  The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance is planning a Paso Robles tour stop in San Francisco on July 17th, and there are lots of Paso Robles wineries who will be participating in the Family Winemakers of California San Francisco Tasting on August 21st.  Anyone interested in an inside look into Tablas Creek should check out the Tablas Creek blog, which has been a finalist for "Best Winery Blog" at the American Wine Blog Awards each of the four years it has been in existence, or check out what we're doing on Facebook.

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TASTE

What: Paso Robles Wine Alliance Tastings at K&L

When: 5pm-6:30pm Thursday 7/14 in San Francisco and Friday 7/15 in Redwood City

Where: K&L SF and K&L RWC

Details:  on facebook  on KLWines.com

***

SHOP

Buy Tablas Creek Wines now on KLWines.com