After graduating from Cal Poly SLO, winemaker Denise Shurtleff worked at a local winery as a lab tech during harvest, and was quickly introduced to the intensity and passion associated with fine winemaking. She worked all aspects at the winery, learning how each and every part of the winemaking process affects the final wine. The sustainably-farmed Tempusquet Vineyard in Santa Maria produces grapes of intense quality, and Denise knows just the methods needed to get the vineyard's best into the bottle.
ANTONIO GALLONI 94 POINTS - "The 2015 Syrah Tepusquet Vineyard is the most impressive wine in the range today. Powerful, dense and explosive, the 2015 pulses with both energy. An exotic melange of inky dark fruit, creme de cassis, lavender, black pepper and spice builds as this striking wine shows off its pedigree."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "From humble beginnings in 1998, Carlisle continues to go from strength to strength, growing from a solid philosophy of sourcing mainly Zinfandel and Rhône varieties from ancient vineyards in Sonoma and further afield. So, most of the vines used by Mike and Kendall Officer were planted from 1888 to 1934. From 2013, they have their own winery in which to create their magic—the old Robert Mueller winery in Russian River Valley."
"Made up of 100% Syrah, the deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Syrah Papa's Block comes bounding out of the glass with gregarious crushed blackcurrants and black plums with touches of dried herbs, black pepper, aniseed and tilled soil plus a waft of underbrush. Full-bodied with a firm backbone of grainy tannins and a lively line supporting the generous fruit, it has a very long, savory finish. 561 cases produced."
ANTONIO GALLONI 93-96 POINTS - "The Carlisle 2016s are quite possibly the most brilliant wines I have ever tasted from Mike Officer. A move towards picking on the earlier side than in the past along with the natural virtues of the vintage come together to yield a set of thrilling, captivating wines of the very highest level. According to Officer 2016 was shaping up to be similar to 2015, until cool weather arrived in August and slowed down ripening, which, in turn, extended hang time by a few weeks. The only problem with the 2016s is that readers may not be able to buy all the wines given the vast number of compelling bottlings in this range. I would be thrilled to drink any of these wines any day of the week. They are every bit that outstanding. Even better, pricing remains exceedingly fair by any standard or measure. Readers who can find these wines should not hesitate, as they are truly magnificent."
"The 2016 Syrah Papa's Block brings together so many of the best elements that make the Carlisle wines so compelling. Explosive and powerful, with real character, the 2016 is a superb. The 22% whole clusters add an expressive aromatic top notes that plays off the dark, inky fruit beautifully. All the elements are wonderfully fused together in a deep, plush wine endowed with pedigree and class."
The 2017 Santa Barbara County Syrah combines fruit from the four Syrah vineyards Jaffurs works with. After blending trials, a small amount of Grenache was added in for aromatics and complexity. More than a sum of its parts this wine exhibits cherry, wild berry and violet aromatics. Full and fruitful in the mouth, with underlying espresso and pepper flavors. Sharing the same farming and winemaking techniques as their vineyard designated wines, this Jaffurs Syrah can be enjoyed upon release or cellared for several years.
ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 95 POINTS - "(raised in a combination of new and used French oak barrels, concrete tanks and amphoras) Deep brilliant ruby. An assertively perfumed bouquet evokes fresh black and blue fruits, Moroccan spices, vanilla and smoky minerals, while a suave floral pastille accent builds in the glass. Deeply concentrated yet surprisingly lively on the palate, offering sweet black raspberry, boysenberry, spicecake and mocha flavors that unfold slowly, picking up licorice and vanilla notes on the back half. Shows outstanding clarity and thrust on a supple, strikingly long finish shaped by smooth, building tannins."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 93-95 POINTS - "One of the reference point estates in Paso Robles is unquestionably Stephan Asseo's l'Aventure."
"Leading off the reds from barrel, the full-bodied 2015 Cote a Cote (60% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah) has an elegant, cool climate feel (which can be common in the vintage) as well as pretty, elegant notes of violets, raspberries, peppery herbs and black cherries. The final blend will be a mix of roughly 60% barrels and 40% in concrete and amphora, and it should have a decade of longevity."
JEB DUNNUCK 91-93 POINTS - "Consistently thrilling wines come from l'Aventure, which is run with incredible talent and passion by St. Emilion native Stephan Asseo. His 2016s are incredible efforts, and the 2017 more Rhone blends are certainly in the same ballpark. Due to the heat spikes at harvest, Bordeaux varieties were much more difficult and hit or miss."
"Starting with the wines from barrel, the 2017 Optimus (55% Syrah, 41% Grenache, and the rest Petit Verdot) will certainly be a charming, sexy, outstanding bottle of wine. It gives up lots of cassis and jammy dark fruits in a primary, full-bodied, layered style."
A blend of 71% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, and 14% Syrah, this showcases great aromatics typical of it's Grenache vineyard in the Adelaida District AVA in West Side Paso Robles. On the nose is spicy red fruits, fresh cherries and hints of chocolate. On the palate its combines a new world juiciness and some old world Chateauneuf-du-Pape like floral notes and firm tannins. The Syrah component from a hillside vineyard in the Willow Creek AVA complements, but still allows the Grenache to be in the driver seat of this blend. We think you'll enjoy its freshness and structure now as well as benefit from several years of cellaring to experience its progression.
ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 92 POINTS - "(15% whole clusters; 40% new French oak) Saturated ruby. Heady, mineral-accented red berry liqueur and floral scents show excellent clarity and a smoky topnote. Sweet and sharply focused on the palate, offering ripe raspberry and cola flavors and a spicy hint of white pepper. Shows excellent finishing cut and floral persistence, with rounded tannins coming in late."
A blend of 70% Syrah, 9% Mourvedre, 8% Grenache, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petite Sirah, 3% Zinfandel, and 2% Clairette Blanche, Beautiful Earth is Mcprice Myers' flagship Paso Robles Blend, and it represents the best lots from their favorite westside vineyards. Ripe berries, violets, rose petals, sweet tobacco, peach-blackberry cobbler, dried sage, dark chocolate, and leather are all present on the nose. The palate is juicy and voluptuous with hints of cocoa powder, it is opulent and lush with a vibrant beam of energy ushering in a tantalizing finish.
Our buyer was visiting/touring/tasting around the Paso Robles region when McPrice Myers was rebranding a few of his wines. Two of the wines were just about to be bottled, and Mac invited our buyer to the winery and taste them, and of course our buyer went (if you've ever had Mac's wines, you know why this was a no brainer). Vis-a-vis their pricepoints, our buyer felt that Mac's "Blue Collar Series" (of which he makes a Cabernet, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Grenache-blend) far exceeded anything else he tasted on that trip!
A blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 22% Mourvedre, 6% Petite Sirah and 2% Viognier, aromas of smoky plum, mocha, licorice, and black cherries move towards Rainier cherry, boysenberry, dark chocolate, and brown spice on the palate, betore the lush tannins lead you towards a long, supple finish.
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 95+ POINTS - "The 2014 Relentless, made up of 89% Syrah and 11% Petite Sirah, is deep garnet-purple with a pronounced nose of black plums, blackberries and black cherries with touches of fragrant earth, black pepper and Indian spices plus a waft of lavender. Very big, full-bodied, opulent and laden with vibrant black fruits and spicy layers, it has firm, rounded tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long and peppery."
ANTONIO GALLONI 92-95 POINTS - "Shafer's 2014 Relentless is fabulous. The most expressive and varietally expressive of the three vintages of Relentless I tasted. In 2014, Relentless has 11% Petite Sirah, which, along with the personality of the year, kicks up the aromatics and flavors in a meaningful way. Lavender, mint, violets and crème de cassis notes are laced into the super-expressive finish. The 2014 is shaping up to be a real gem."
ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "Few people are as passionate about Ballard Canyon as Peter Stolpman is. As President of the Ballard Canyon Winegrowers' Alliance, Stolpman is focused on bringing producers together to promote the area. To be sure, Ballard Canyon is a very distinctive region, especially for Syrah, so it will be interesting to see how things develop here in the coming years. As for his own wines, Stolpman's A-list team of winemaker Sashi Moorman and vineyard guru Ruben Solorzano keeps ratcheting up the quality level at the estate. In addition to these wines, I also tasted a few selections from the estate's library, including the 2004 Roussanne L'Avion, Syrah Estate and Syrah Angeli. Although those wines have aged pretty nicely, they also show just how far Stolpman has come in the last few years, especially with regards to cooperage. Simply put, these wines have never been better.
"Explosive and perfumed to the core, the 2012 Syrah Originals captivates all the sense with exuberant perfume and super-intense fruit, all with plenty of underlying structure. Cloves, lavender, mint and an array of spices inform the fragrant, highly expressive finish. The 60% whole clusters are impeccably balanced. This is a gorgeous showing from Stolpman."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - 'In the same ballpark, the 2012 Angeli is 100% Syrah that comes from a single block of own rooted vines. It too is medium to full-bodied, rich and textured, with pretty violets, purple fruits, spring flowers and edgy minerality. Seeing 80% whole clusters and 18 months in puncheons, it has bright acidity and clean, nicely focused feel. It is another outstanding Syrah that will evolve for a decade."
Representing a portion of every Syrah block on the vineyard, Estate Syrah best represents Stolpman Vineyard’s soil, methodology, and the Ballard Canyon weather conditions in any given year.
ANTONIO GALLONI 91-94 POINTS - "The 2017 Syrah Estate is stellar. Silky and plush, with soft contours and tons of finesse, the Estate is yet another wine that shows just how much things have evolved at Stolpman. There is tremendous depth to the succulent red cherry and raspberry fruit, and yet more than enough aromatic intensity to balance things out."
Every so often, you'll peruse our newsletter and see that we ask why more people are doing things like Winery "A". Well…this is one of those times! While the noteworthy wines from Tablas Creek are nothing new (but they are still exciting), their Patelin bottlings are new. This blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Counoise comes from their Westside Paso neighbors who have planted vineyards using Tablas clones.
In theory, this Patelin red should be tight, young, and tart…but on the contrary, this wine is rich, concentrated and immensely delicious. In fact, our buyer wouldn't spit this wine out! Deep ruby/garnet in color, the nose is loaded with Asian spices, raspberry, black cherry, and orange marmalade while the palate follows suit and adds hints of grilled meats, graphite, and cocoa. Rich, flavorful, and with silky tannins, this is a great value in wine, and one that just may make you ask yourself why you haven't tried these wines before!
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "The 2016 Patelin de Tablas will be released later this year, and it's really beginning to become expressive, bursting from the glass with aromas of blackberry, raspberries, cracked pepper and Provence herbs. On the palate, it's medium-bodied, supple and juicy, with a lovely core of fruit, youthfully chewy tannins and a nicely pure finish. Bottled under screwcap, fully 3,000 cases of this blend of 52% Syrah, 31% Grenache, 11% Counoise and 6% MourvEdre were produced."
Tablas Creek was founded by the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel and their importer, Robert Haas. The goal was to produce California's best examples of southern Rhône varietals and Chateauneuf-du-Pape style blends. The partners chose a 120-acre property in the hills of westside Paso Robles for its similarities to Chateauneuf-du-Pape: limestone soils, favorable climate, and rugged terrain. Tablas Creek emphasizes dry farming (no watering) to seek maximum expression from their grapes, and they farm organically. Their signature white is named Esprit de Tablas, and is modeled after the Beaucastel wines from the Rhone Valley.
ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 93 POINTS - "Pale straw-gold. Intense, mineral-accented Meyer lemon, nectarine and pear skin aromas are complemented by a deeper honey nuance. Tightly wound citrus and orchard fruit flavors unfurl slowly with air, picking up a suave floral character and a hint of chalky minerality. The impressively long, incisive finish shows outstanding clarity and leaves behind lively citrus zest and honeysuckle notes."
JEB DUNNUCK 93 POINTS - "Moving to a small retrospective of the Esprit de Tablas Blanc cuvee, the 2016 Esprit de Tablas Blanc (75% Roussanne, 18% Grenache Blanc, and the rest Picpoul Blanc aged in foudre) offers a medium to full-bodied, concentrated, and textured style to go with youthful notes of ripe apple, buttered citrus, and some spicy, mineral nuances. It's still a baby yet certainly offers pleasure."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "A blend of 75% Roussanne, 18% Grenache Blanc and 7% Picpoul Blanc, the 2016 Esprit Blanc de Tablas reveals aromas of honeyed citrus, fresh peaches and white flowers. On the palate, it's full-bodied, textural and layered, has good concentration and depth and is nicely balanced despite its rich, gourmand qualities. Haas feels that the estate's Roussanne was especially successful this year, thus the 2016 contains the largest percentage of that grape in this blend's history. Give it a few years in the cellar to unwind before following it for a decade or more."
ANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - "This is a strong set of releases from Zotovich. After a few years of back and forth, Zotovich seems to have settled on a style that works well for the site and their wines. The wines are consistent from top to bottom."
"The 2017 Viognier is done in a bright, floral style that emphasizes freshness. Jasmine and apricot notes are nicely delineated throughout. Light on its feet and impeccably balanced, the 2017 offers quite a bit of character and personality."