This wine floored us from the very first sip! Ancient Peaks sits in the Paso Robles appellation, 22 miles south of the city itself, and just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Here, the surrounding peaks of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range act as a gateway between one region to the south that is exceedingly ocean-cooled, and another to the north that is much, much warmer (sometimes downright hot!). When the days heat up in the areas north and east of Margarita Vineyard, the air rises to create a vacuum that pulls marine breezes and fog inland over the peaks, and right through the vineyard. This means the fruit gets ripe, without any "off" flavors, yet the cooling afternoon breezes help the resulting wine to retain freshness and acidity.
The Renegade is a blend of 32% Syrah, 25% Zinfandel, 20% Malbec, 19% Petit Verdot, and 4% Petite Sirah, the wine is loaded with deep berry aromas that reveal accents of toasty oak, baking spice, cedar and tobacco. The texture is broad and velvety, offering concentrated flavors of boysenberry, blueberry, black cherry and cocoa that are powerfully framed by savory notes of bacon fat and pepper. Plush tannins and lengthy fruit converge into a smooth, seamless finish.
The focus of this two person operation is on small lot, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, as well as several other varieties uncommon in Northern Californian vineyards. Sites are carefully chosen and are generally on the cooler end of the spectrum for the planted varieties. Collaboration with dedicated and passionate growers is paramount in the farming of these sites.
Duncan and Nathan grew up around winemaking in the Napa Valley. Nathan is a second generation cooper and personally builds all of the French oak barrels that are utilized in the ageing of all Arnot-Roberts wines. Over the years Duncan has worked making wine in the Napa Valley in wineries like, Caymus, Groth, Acacia, Kongsgaard. Total production of Arnot-Roberts is around 2,000 cases per year with thirteen individual wines.
ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "Duncan Arnot describes 2017 as a year with a longer growing season than 2016, which goes to show how different the growing season was in Sonoma relative to Napa Valley, which so often tends to dominate the discussion of California wines. In tasting, the 2017s here all show terrific energy and complexity. Moreover, the combination of intense summer heat and the cooler sites Arnot and Nathan Roberts favor, yielded a set of positively stunning wines. The 2017 Syrahs in particular are off the charts."
"The 2017 Syrah (Sonoma Coast) is a gorgeous wine and a huge overachiever in its peer group. Bright red cherry and plum fruit, rose petal, lavender and spice abound in this super-expressive, pliant Syrah. The purity of the flavors is simply remarkable. Medium in body, gracious and beautifully perfumed, the 2017 is a rock-star wine."
Born in Michoacan, Mexico, winemaker Edgar Torres has lived in the coastal town of Cambria, California since the age of 8. As it seems to happen to many people who live close to Paso Robles, he fell in love with wine and decided to make his livelihood in the wine business. Hey…can you blame him?!? He has worked with many of the superstars of the Central Coast, including Matt Garretson, Augie Hug, Alta Maria Vineyards, Barrel 27, and McPrice Myers! We sampled his latest releases a few months ago, and they really knocked our socks off! The intensity of these wines are rivaled by few here in the United States, and we suggest you check out what Edgar can do!
The "La Guera" bottling is comprised of 75% Albarino and 25% Chardonnay. With an aroma of fresh white flowers such as honey suckle, lemon blossoms and pineapple this wine bursts from the glass. Followed by similar notes on the palate including citrus and apple notes that compliment the acidity and minerality behind it. Perfect to pair with fresh seafood, a perfect summer salad or cheese. Drink now or save up to 5 years.
JEB DUNNUCK 95-97 POINTS - "I loved the 2017 Oublie. This blend of 53% Grenache, 22% Mourvedre, 21% Syrah and the rest a mix of varieties offers a layered, silky, seamless profile. Giving up more black and blue fruits, peppery herbs, and floral overtones, it has silky tannins, medium to full body, and a great finish. It’s another beautiful wine."
JEB DUNNUCK 96-98 POINTS - "Lastly, the 2017 Vertigo checks in as 63% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, 4% Grenache, and the balance Petite Sirah that's still aging in 65% new French oak. One of the more voluptuous, sexy 2017s from Jenson, it boasts loads of black and blue fruits, ground pepper, and spring flower aromas and flavors. Deep, full-bodied, ultra-pure, and with a big finish, it's killer wine in the making."
JEB DUNNUCK 96 POINTS - "The 2017 White is in the same ballpark and reminds me of a top Hermitage Blanc from Michel Chapoutier. Quince, honeysuckle, buttered citrus, marmalade, and white flower notes all flow to a full-bodied, concentrated, yet beautifully balanced white that does everything right. It's that perfect match of richness and freshness, not to mention awesome purity."
JEB DUNNUCK 95-97 POINTS - "The purple-hued 2017 Fracture (100% Syrah aging in 65% new barrels) is another wine that shows a more fresh, elegant style, all while still packing rock star levels of fruit and texture. Cassis, vanilla bean, spice, and background oak notes all emerge from this full-bodied Syrah that has a clean, balanced texture, terrific mid-palate depth, and fabulous tannin quality. It's going to benefit from just short-term cellaring and cruise for a decade."
While many 2017s were picked earlier than their 2016 counterparts, this was one of the few exceptions where Carlisle picked later, despite lower yields. Twenty percent of the fruit was not destemmed to add structure and aromatics. After a five-day cold soak, the wine was fermented with two yeast strains that emphasize varietal character and mouthfeel. Twenty-five days on the skin. Pressed to all French oak, 24% new, and bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Tasting Note: Dark purple-ruby. A floral top note provided by the whole cluster complements aromas of macerated blackberries and roasted meat. Medium-full to full-bodied. While whole cluster can often add additional tannin to a wine, here it seems to have made the wine smoother, more harmonious. With exceptional balance, this wine will have a wide window of enjoyment.
ANTONIO GALLONI 92-95 POINTS - "The 2017 Syrah Papa's Block is dense, powerful and explosive. Blackberry jam, lavender, spice, menthol and game infuse the 2017 with tremendous character. The 20% whole stems add aromatic nuance, but are not especially apparent. Inky and deep, yet also quite nuanced, the Papa's is wonderfully complete, not to mention one of the highlights in this vast range of 2017s from Carlisle and Mike Officer."
A ripe, rich blend of 47% Grenache, 47% Tannat, and 6% Syrah.
Tannat is justly famous for its huge tannins and dark, inky color. It can be a rough wine, lacking charm and complexity, but in a cuvée, it adds undeniable power, grip and palate weight. We chose Grenache and Syrah to soften the Tannat’s grip and add layers of fruit to the Tannat’s spice and coal notes.
Just like the flavorful and refreshing Rieslings grown in Germany, these grapes are grown on steep cliffs, next to a river (in this case, the Columbia River). A cooler site due to river influence, the soils are composed of fragmented basalt, gravel, silt, and caliche deposited during ice age floods. This site produces fruit with sublime mineral character and the acid balance that winemakers dream of. Aromatic, smooth, vibrant and tasty, this gem shows tangerine, pineapple, wet stone, key lime, clove and nectarine. This Kung Fu Girl kicks some serious butt for the money!
A blend of 52% Syrah, 21% Grenache, 12% Petite Sirah, 8% Tannat, and 7% Mourvedre, the life of the party has just arrived and is setting up shop in your mouth. It's approachable, as all good party guests should be, with lively flavors of blackberries, cherries and strawberries to get things started. And this Paso red blend knows how to mingle, introducing milk chocolate, caramel and leather to all those beautiful fruits. It's going to be an interesting night.
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The 2016 Chronology Red is a blend of 30% Petite Sirah, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Grenache, 12% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, 5% Mission, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec and 1% Merlot aged in 14% new French and American oak. Deep garnet-purple colored, it has intense scents of cassis, warm plums, black cherries and violets with hints of black pepper and tilled earth. Full-bodied, rich and velvety, it has a refreshing line and long earth-laced finish. 2,509 cases produced."
It was a mutual love of Pinot Noir that led Joe & Vicki Stark to establish Colene Clemens Vineyard and Winery back in 2005. Operating a successful business, Joe and Vicki developed a taste for fine wine through the '80's. At that point in time, they had no clue just what the Willamette Valley would become in the wine making world.
When they set their sights on purchasing property to plant their vineyard, they found an old abandoned farmstead and orchard that had lain fallow for many years, possessing ideal aspect (south facing), elevations (350ft to 650ft) and an array of high quality, proven Pinot Noir soils, not to mention fantastic views, no place could have been better. The icing on the cake for Joe and Vicki was that the property was less than 2 miles from where they lived with their first born.
From the beginning the goal has been to do everything possible to make the very best Pinot Noir. No compromise has been made in vineyard preparation, farming practices and wine making. Steve Goff, the gifted and dedicated winemaker and vineyard manager, has utilized the most diligent, time-tested and non-invasive protocols in both the vineyard and winery to further this goal. The 2015 release ended up earning 95 points from Wine Spectator and was #7 on their "Top 100" list of 2018, and this newly released vintage is a fantastic follow up!
A blend of 64% Petite Sirah, 23% Syrah, 10% Zinfandel, 2% Lagrein, and 1% Tannat, the 2017 Pessimist has a powerful and intensely aromatic nose that ascends to greet you with blueberry, boysenberry and black plum fragrance. Evolving layers reveal elderberry and truffle, with cocoa and cardamom spice accents, further augmented by hints of eucalyptus, leather, cherry pipe tobacco and grilled meats. Broad and expansive on the palate, bestowing lush and generous flavors of black cherry, blueberry, creme de cassis and damp forest floor. Notes of lavender, anise and black olives complement the rich fruit. Massive in weight yet elegantly structured, this wine is a powerhouse that reveals itself in controlled stages .
Planted in 1999, Denner Vineyards is a winegrowing estate on the far western border of the Paso Robles AVA. Their 156 acres press up against the Santa Lucia Range, giving the site great diversity of elevation, aspect and soil. Previously dry farmed barley, the estate is nestled into the Templeton Gap, an East/West corridor where the marine layer can reach the inland valleys. As a result they receive large diurnal temperature swings without high moisture pressure, giving us a near perfect growing climate.
The 108 acres under vine are comprised of 19 different varieties in 26 unique blocks. Each block is farmed with painstaking attention to detail, allowing only for the best possible grapes to reach the winery. Aron Nevarez, their vineyard manager, is committed to environmentally friendly farming practices, using only sustainable inputs and minimal irrigation.
The "Dirt Worshipper" is a blend of 97% Syrah, 2% Roussanne, and 1% Viognier. An explosion of violets, black olives, plums, white pepper, and forest floor are a stunning introduction to this hedonistic beast. Flavors of seared ribeye, menthol, rolling tobacco, and blueberry dance around on the visceral palate. The mid-palate offers profound depth and power, but brightens as it evolves into a graceful and extraordinarily long finish.
Winery's Tasting Notes: "Juicy peach, lemon oil and orange marmalade are supported with hints of flint and mineral notes. The palate is full bodied, with flavors of nectarine, buttered brioche and honey. The rich, complex flavors are cut with a touch of tannin and bright acidity on the long fresh finish."
JEB DUNNUCK 94 POINTS - "There are three Syrahs from Smith. His 2017 Syrah Wild Mountainside comes from a handful of sites in the Russian River and spent 15 months in a mix of one-third new French oak, 20% amphora, and the balance in used barrels. This rocking effort offers classic cool-climate notes of blue fruits, violets, ground pepper, and game. With medium to full body, beautiful tannins, and a seamless texture, it's going to keep for over a decade."
ANTONIO GALLONI 90 POINTS - "Fess Parker's 2017 Syrah (Santa Barbara County) is powerful and bold, with expressive savory and peppery notes that add striking shades of complexity. This is an especially rich, racy style. A touch of sweetness from American oak is a lovely accent to ripe dark cherry, plum, chocolate, licorice and grilled herb flavors."
This is an insane value from Curt Schalchlin; the owner and winemaker of SANS LIEGE. After several years learning from and working for some of the Central Coast's most sought-after producers, Curt decided to go his own way. The wines he puts under the Sans Liege label have received lofty praise from other winemakers and consumers, and his Groundwork label is on the way to becoming one of the best values in California's Central Coast! This bottling of Grenache Blanc comes from a variety of vineyards in Paso Robles to increase complexity.
white peach skin, river rock minerality, lychee, quince, green tea,
citrus hard candy, lemongrass
This is an insane value from Curt Schalchlin; the owner and winemaker of SANS LIEGE. After several years learning from and working for some of the Central Coast's most sought-after producers, Curt decided to go his own way. The wines he puts under the Sans Liege label have received lofty praise from other winemakers and consumers, and his Groundwork label is on the way to becoming one of the better values in California's Central Coast!
Grenache Blanc excels in Halter Ranch's limestone rich soils on the Westside of Paso Robles. Reminiscent of the wines of Southern France, this Grenache Blanc has aromas and flavors of honey, white flower, melons and pear. Delicious on its own, this wine also pairs beautifully with hearty salads, prosciutto and melon, and anything from the sea.
This is a blend of 40% Syrah, 35% Mourvedre, 19% Grenache, 4% Carignan, and 2% Tannat. Russel writes his tasting notes like a story, and he writes: "You never thought you'd get this far, but the wood-paneled bar with neon-lit signs has dissolved into your apartment balcony, where she's hungry and waiting. Frying up a grilled cheese in the kitchen you realize you're not kids anymore, so you're trying to channel your inner Thomas Keller, chopping fresh rosemary and sage, sizzling bacon, spreading pepper jelly. She hand-rolls a cigarette as you split the sandwich. Miles away, thunder rolls. The air turns earthy and sweet. Let it fill the space between you until the rain begins."
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 92 POINTS - "The 2017 Syrah (Santa Barbara County) is another gorgeous appellation-level wine from Jaffurs. Inky red/purplish berry fruit, black pepper, mint, lavender and licorice add aromatic nuance, but more than anything else, the 2017 is incredibly layered and detailed within its peer group. A dollop (8%) Grenache works well in rounding out the wine's balance."