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  • The Tasting Panel: The Romance of Paso Robles

    Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein Puts the Spotlight on the Region’s Cabernets at a Wine Dinner in Chicago

    Tasting Panel Jan Feb 2020

    Sto­ry by Meridith May and Ruth Tobias
    Pho­tos by Rebec­ca Peplin­s­ki
    The Tast­ing Pan­el
    , January/​February 2020

    Paso Rob­les is near and dear to my heart,” Mas­ter Som­me­li­er Evan Gold­stein recent­ly declared to a group of wine pro­fes­sion­als who attend­ed his sold-out Full Cir­cle Bev­er­age Con­fer­ence in Chica­go last Sep­tem­ber. I’ve been fol­low­ing California’s wine indus­try for decades and the promi­nence of the state’s most note­wor­thy grape: Caber­net Sauvi­gnon. But it’s Paso Rob­les that has made among the most impres­sive advance­ments in style, tech­nique, and char­ac­ter for Cab and red Bor­deaux vari­eties. Thanks to an intri­cate tapes­try of some 40 ter­roir for­ma­tions, includ­ing its icon­ic high-pH cal­care­ous soil and great swings of day-to-night tem­per­a­tures, this unique region — California’s largest geo­graph­ic appel­la­tion — con­tin­ues to build on its world-class quality.”

    J. Lohr is a com­fort label in the best sense of the word,” said Mas­ter Som­me­li­er Made­line Trif­fon of this pio­neer­ing Paso brand — a com­pli­ment that sure­ly com­fort­ed red wine- mak­er Bren­den Wood as he kept one eye on the pre-har­vest con­di­tions back home. I was just look­ing at my weath­er app: It was 100 degrees today, and it’ll be 55 tonight,” he told the group. That extreme diur­nal fluc­tu­a­tion con­tributes to the ripeness [as well as] the fresh­ness and acid­i­ty in our wines.”

    Though the 2019 grow­ing sea­son had been a fine one in the region, Wood’s watch­ful­ness made sense giv­en the tricky vin­tages of the two expres­sions that he and Sales Man­ag­er Doug Burch were on hand to present. With respect to the Hill­top Caber­net, Wood admit­ted, 2017 was a nail-biter”; due to an extreme heat wave in August, We thought that the fruit wouldn’t hold up.” As for 2015, he explained, an unusu­al­ly cool spring meant that a lot of flow­er­ing shat­tered. But Mer­lot was not affect­ed as much, and the low yields were a bless­ing” —espe­cial­ly for J. Lohr’s Right Bank – inspired blend Pom.

    J. Lohr 2017 Hill­top Caber­net Sauvi­gnon
    Exudes a com­bi­na­tion of fresh­ness and bril­liant acid­i­ty, with a blue­ber­ry-pie ripeness that shines as earth and espres­so form the palate’s base. Grown at an ele­va­tion of 2,000 feet on cal­care­ous soil, it’s a blend of 95% Caber­net Sauvi­gnon and 4% Petit Ver­dot with a splash of Mal­bec. —M.M.

    J. Lohr 2015 Cuvée Pom
    A trib­ute to the Grand Cru wines of Pomerol on Bordeaux’s Right Bank, this Mer­lot- dom­i­nant red (90%) includes some Caber­net Sauvi­gnon and Mal­bec. Con­cen­trat­ed, savory, and broad, with aro­mas and fla­vors of black plum, it fea­tures chalky tan­nins that go from dry to satiny as the wine opens up with an earthy charm. Trif­fon com­ment­ed, I love its gen­tle ripeness and long, smooth mouth­feel.” —M.M.

    Read the full arti­cle here. 

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