Paso Robles is making its mark in the world of rosé wines. A Paso Robles rosé—the Tablas Creek 2012 Dianthus—received the highest rating of any of the 100+ wines we tasted for our 2013 Annual Rosé Report. Furthermore, Paso Robles has developed a distinct style of rosés different from other regions of California and somewhat similar to those of the Southern Rhone. The producers of the region are mostly using Rhone varieties, especially Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Grenache, in crafting their rosés. As a result, several rosés tend to be on the richer, riper end of the rosé flavor spectrum. But others, like the Tablas Creek, Halter Ranch, and Wild Horse offerings, are light and crisp. While we didn’t review many Paso rosés when preparing our report on The Wines of Paso Robles, we certainly plan to keep our eye on them for future editions of our annual rosé report. Our reviews of Paso rosés follow:
Broken Earth Winery 2012 Diablo Rosado Paso Robles ($15) 88 Packed with delicious, rich red plum Syrah fruit, this rosé is vibrant with a red candied note on the palate. Straightforward and fresh tasting. Recommended for those who like a little sweetness in their rosé, or serve with sparkling mineral water for a refreshing spritzer. A blend of Syrah (88%) and Viognier (12%) sourced from Continental Vineyards. Chris Cameron is the winemaker. Great label, too. Eberle 2011 Syrah Rosé Paso Robles ($18) 87 Light ruby red. This is a soft, full style rosé with ripe red plum and earth aromas and ripe flavors. Has a slight note of reduction, which is not uncommon with Syrah based wines. Made of 100% Syrah, sourced from the Steinbeck Vineyard and destemmed, cold soaked for 36 hours, and then bled off the skins. A small portion was drawn off and aged on Viognier lees to add floral aromas. Harvested at 26 Brix with a pH of 3.65 and RS under 2%. Graveyard Vineyards NV Paso Tombstone Pink Paso Robles ($15) 88 A rich, red rosé, this wine shows a pretty maraschino cherry nose that carries over, quite brightly, to a fresh, clean palate, finishing with good length. A good quaffing wine that would pair well with spicy, grilled sausage. A 60/40 blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah; Alc 14.7° Halter Ranch 2012 Rosé Paso Robles ($19) 89 An excellent rosé showing a fruit rich, red berry nose and a nicely balanced, subtly flavored palate, finishing crisply with a prominent mineral note. We like the purity of this wine. A predominantly (68%) Grenache based blend that also includes Mourvèdre (15%), Picpoul blanc (12%), and Syrah (5%) from estate blocks of the spectacular Halter Ranch Vineyard. Destemmed and directly pressed and fermented in stainless steel. Harmony Cellars 2012 Rosato Vivo Paso Robles ($19) 88 Pale pink. This is a balanced, easy drinking rosé with good acidity and freshness. It shows nice purity of red berry aromas and flavors. Well made. 100% Syrah from Wytmar Farms in Paso Robles Lone Madrone 2012 Zin Blanco Paso Robles ($20) 89 An attempt to show that Zinfandel can make a distinguished rose, the Zin Blanco is easy drinking, dry on the palate, and serious. With refreshing scents of red fruit, this is a wine that will appeal to those who like their rosés big enough to pair with grilled meats. While it has refreshing acidity, it also has more alcohol (14.3%) than the usual rosé, which argues for serving it very well chilled. Made from hand harvested, dry-farmed, head pruned Zinfandel grapes grown in the limestone hills of west Paso Robles. Sculpterra Winery 2012 Paso Pink Paso Robles ($25) 89 The Paso Pink is dry and mineral like in style with dense Grenache red fruit dominating the nose and flavor profile. The palate shows lovely purity of fruit with quite high acidity and surprisingly dry tannins on a long fruit-rich finish. A very nice, uniquely styled rosé that requires food to show its best. Try with grilled chicken. A blend of 40% Grenache, 21% Mourvèdre, 17% Primitivo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Viognier. Sextant 2012 Grenache Rosé Paso Robles ($21) 89 Medium salmon copper. This Grenache based rosé reveals reticent aromas of dried rose petals and orange zest. It has a very soft, full and round palate with strawberry and clementine orange notes and showing bright acidity on the finish. A saignée of Grenache sourced from the RBZ Vineyard and fermented and aged 4 months in neutral oak barrels. Alc 14° Tablas Creek Vineyard 2012 Dianthus Paso Robles ($27) 92 Medium pink. Shows faint red pomegranate aromas and flavors. What makes this wine so good is its pure, fresh and mineral like character combined with good concentration and excellent balance. Certified organic, estate grown 60% Mourvèdre, 25% Grenache, 15% Counoise co-fermented. Tablas Creek Vineyard 2012 Patelin de Tablas Rosé Paso Robles ($20) 88 Very pale copper pink. This is a pleasant rosé revealing white, stony aromas. It’s dry and crisp on the palate with light cherry and herbal flavors. It has a nice chalky texture. About 75% direct pressed Grenache combined with saignée lots of 20% Mourvèdre and 5% Counoise. Victor Hugo Winery 2012 Les Mis Paso Robles ($15) 88+ Medium pink. Les Mis is a well made, easy drinking wine produced from an unusual mix of varieties. It has a reticent nose of dried herbs and pomegranate and a soft, lightly fruited palate of cherry and raspberry with good acidity and freshness, finishing long and pleasing. Well done and priced right. A blend of 42% Malbec, 28% Zinfandel, 20% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot from estate vineyards Villa San-Juliette 2012 VSJ Reserve Rosé of Syrah Paso Robles ($19) 87 Very ripe fruit, mostly pomegranate and red plum, show on the nose and soft, lush palate with a hint of spice on the finish. Pleasant, easy drinking. 100% Syrah. Vina Robles 2012 Roseum Paso Robles ($13) 88+ This Syrah based wine is on the darker, full-bodied end of the rosé spectrum. It presents fresh fruit in a ripe style with notes of rose petals, red plums, and red raspberries. Balanced and delicious but, also, substantial enough to substitute for lighter style red wines (e.g., Beaujolais, Italian Rossos) when pairing with food. Made of Syrah grapes from the Huerhuero Vineyard. Wild Horse 2012 Floyd Paso Robles ($20) 89+ Light pink. A very successful, flavorful rosé showing tropical fruit, including a hint of pineapple on a dry, fruity mid-palate, finishing dry with a crisp finish. Very well done. A blend of mostly estate grown Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese, directly pressed in a white wine style.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler