Category Archives: Paso Robles

Deodoro Cellars

The name Deodoro may be fun to say but the wine is what speaks the symphony. Each step through their flight has rare typicity while each sip can uncover different characteristics.

As its name suggests, Euphoria can make you feel as happy as a lemon tree on a sunny day. Its bright crisp green apple awakens you while its honeydew body shines through. Take this wine to a picnic to pair all the way through succulent salads, sumptuous seafood, or sunshine and solitude.

Their Syrah has an elegant balance of red raspberry and dark blueberry without that blanket of cranberry that can overwhelm. It has brilliant layers of spices that make every sip a different experience.

Our favorite is a Cabernet Sauvignon that pairs with anything or nothing throughout an entire meal. Its dark ripe cherry and black currant layers make it a tasty sipper all by itself while you’re cooking. Silky tannins and bright acidity make it a terrific pairing for your best bold steak and creamy garlic potatoes. Finally, its soft supple leather body with remarkable coffee fragrance make it a lovely after dinner toast.

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Lusso Della Terra Cellars

Or, LDT as it is known locally here in Paso, has an exciting new tasting room in downtown Paso just one block away from the congestion of the square yet close enough to all the restaurants to stop by for a glass of wine before or after dinner. The excitement never ends on weekends as they bring in live music and stay open a bit later than most tasting rooms.

Their flight includes such variety you’re certain to find a wine for each unique palate in your party. We began a tasting with three Chardonnays that could not be more different. The first tasted just like a Sauvignon Blanc but without the harsh grapefruit flavor or nasty minerality. Bathed in stainless steel, it had brilliantly bright crisp lemon peel and even honeydew flavors with mouthwatering acidity. The next one from Sonoma’s coast had a bit more apricot and nutmeg with a floral fragrance and still a bit of acidity. Finally, their Alexander Valley Chardonnay had much more mellow acidity with lively fruit and felt like buttery popcorn in your mouth.

A surprisingly refreshing rose made out of Merlot had a beautiful ruby color with flavors of watermelon, strawberry, and rhubarb. It makes you wish you had a barbecue or picnic to take it to. Two Pinot Noirs followed designed to please two very different types of Pinotphiles. The first Pinot had tight acidity with an herbal quality and mellow fruit yet the second was bursting with spices and equally rich in strawberries as it was in currants. Our favorite was a Sangiovese that had just a small percentage of Merlot probably explaining a nice dark cherry and plum flavor in this wine, often known for its tart red cherry characteristics. It was a lovely balanced wine that gave you a hint of vanilla on its long finish.


Pianetta

Rhone varietals like Syrah, Grenache, and, the cult, Mourvedre crowd the soil in Paso these days. Big fans of these grapes unite here. But, when you crave something a bit more Italian inspired, and we all do at some point, head to Pianetta for big full Italian stallions with a California style. This father-daughter fab find is a block away from the Paso square and the spot to buy wine that feeds your Italian food cravings…or any food cravings, really.

They don’t make any whites but their rose hits the spot with its chilled watermelon flavor. A bit of floral fragrance is the first thing you smell but big round refreshing strawberry, banana, and plenty of watermelon follow. This is a nice meaty rose for taco night or even a barbecue. Their Sangiovese has that bright crisp cherry flavor typical of this grape yet the long finish you’d expect from a cab or robust Merlot. Finally, they serve a very unique Petite Sirah with an earthy green lavender nose but licorice and all spice body with very smooth tannins. Savor this glass for a few minutes and you’ll smell a smoky campfire scent as you swirl.

Each wine is welcoming enough to return to a previous wine after you’ve moved on to bigger bodied wines. Check out these family operations because they are often better at passing on traditions and cross training the unique practices that give their wines character. That’s how they manage to keep their style consistent across vintages.


Jade Moon

You might think that wineries with huge opulent estates and sprawling views ought to have delicious wine. You may assume all that money means better quality juice. You may be right but I doubt it. If you like the view, go drink it up! At the end of the day, the wine you’ll want to have is from a smaller producer like Jade Moon.

It is their careful attention to detail and fearless pursuit of flavor that make their wines balanced yet complex. Each wine is crafted with respect to the iconic traits of each varietal. Their Sauvignon Blanc has bright crisp acidity but they’ve tamed its harsh grapefruit profile, allowing slight herbal flavors of sage shine through. It makes a wonderful sipper and an even better pair to sumptuous salads or slightly spicy shellfish. Their round supple Chardonnay has a range of flavors starting with a little butter that follows with thick succulent lemon curd and a whiff of honeysuckle. It is your mate for a saucy barbecue or rich creamy lobster mac and cheese.

These whites are under their Wild Hogge label that is exported to Bermuda. But their reds under the Jade Moon label are available locally in many of California’s scrumptious restaurants. The Odyssey in Paso Robles for one has discovered how their richly textured wines unearth a bounty of flavors alongside their eclectic menu options. Each full bodied red has an amazing array of bright and dark fruit with a long finish you’ll remember. You just can’t get this flavor from a mass produced wine! If your palate is particular, find winemakers like this with the same appreciation, refined palate, and strong sense to continue feeding that brilliant passion.


RiverStar

The people at RiverStar Vineyards are not only blending stars. They also create new wine styles that shine. They have invented a delightful new way to end your meal. Making a dessert style wine out of plain and simple table grapes, they’ve found a slightly tart and sweet way to polish off the flavors in any dish with a blanket of white pepper atop a crème brulee body.

But, to start things off, they pour a Sauvignon Blanc with more big pineapple and subtle apple flavors than severe grapefruit. Next, a Moscato changes all the sensations in your mouth with its slight sweetness. Orange blossoms meet your nose while citrus and honeysuckle cross your tongue. Finally a very peppery Viognier finishes the whites probably because of its robust body with all that jazzy spice.

The reds are equally unique, leaving you with a different way of feeling about these varietals. Their Merlot has a brick red hue and a smoothness born of Hungarian oak barrels. It’s slightly creamy texture is evident as its cherry and plum flavors linger. An award winning Syrah represents the halfway point between a cool climate tart wine and a hot climate jolly rancher with plenty of plum, cherry, and apple yet a creamy mocha texture. But their blends are what make this tasting memorable. An Eclipse made from Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel has bright red and dark fruit all at once while smoky spices fill your senses. A Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel blend has the nice acidity you crave from these grapes with the structure you expect from a Bordeaux.

Finally, dessert arrives in the form of a lovely liquid tootsie roll. Hard to imagine yet way too easy to drink. But their Twilight is a chewy deep dark chocolate port style wine made out of a single port grape: Touriga Nacional. Its ripe plum is its only sweetness but sets the cocoa free. If you’re already too sweet for a sweet way to finish, their Syrah port style wine has the lightness of wine because they don’t add brandy. Yet, 18% alcohol may be the perfect finish for your dish or any day.


Don’t just make a wish

Make it happen!

Walking through the streets of Paso not only takes you back to a different time, it also makes you wish you could live in one of them. If you’ve dreamed of owning a cute little cottage in Paso but could never get a home loan because banks think “self-employed” equals “unemployed,” look into alternatives. Banks are small minded because they only loan to those with a consistent income and cannot see the potential of loaning to an indie writer or someone whose income is more like a roller coaster.

Realizing that stuffy banks are not your only option is unbelievably liberating. Consider buying a vacation rental that could practically pay for itself because it allows you to live in a portion of the property. If it’s too painful to buy an entire house, you can buy into one. Miracle of miracles, you can become part owner of a vacation rental without a home loan and a much smaller down with benefits or revenue well worth the long term investment. Another equally liberating discovery about shirking the bank shackles is that the seller can finance you. You may actually win a bidding war with another party offering all cash because the seller makes another 5% in interest from a buyer who has the seller carry papers.  Really, I’ve seen it happen!


Common Ground

You know that fun feeling you get from wine? Of course you do! That’s why you drink it. An even better feeling is the one you get from buying wines with a good cause. A wine with a special purpose can make you buy it even if you don’t like the taste. Lots of wines taut their proceeds go to charity and buyers reach for their credit cards before they even decide if the wine is unrepugnant.

The Common Ground wine from MUST Charities delivers both on its charitable cause and quality in flavor. Its big berry, dark cherry, and plum hit you up front but it’s the many layers of cocoa, eucalyptus, and smoke that unfold later, giving it its big body and longevity. If you are in the central coast of California, check out an Albertson’s grocery store and pay less than 20 bucks for a bottle of this virtuous wine.