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Feeling The Heat In California: Are Paso Robles Wines Too High In Alcohol?

There’s one thing you need to know about Paso Robles wine country.

It can get hot.

And I’m not talking about the Summertime temperatures, or even the Indian-Summertime temperatures, which had busted through the 100F mark not too long before my visit to Paso in October.

No, I’m talking about the wines.

After tasting through a small score of the vino on offer from several of Paso’s wine producers, the most prominent takeaway was that there were so many wines that were made from very, very ripe fruit – wines that generally exceeded 14% abv in the whites and regularly hit over 15% abv in the reds.

That is not an inevitable conclusion for Paso Robles wine.  And I know this because it wasn’t always the case.

During my Paso visit, I dined at the home of Gary and Marcy Eberle, who own Eberle Winery in Paso. Over the course of our meal (also attended by representatives of several other Paso producers), Gary opened a few bottles of Eberle Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from the early 1980s. Those wines were a far cry from being dead – in fact, they were vibrant, with juicy red fruits underpinning aromas of dried herbs.  In other words, those wines were refined, food-friendly, and eminently drinkable.  The abv? About 13%

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Get Off Your Duff And Turn The Towels Teal For Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month!

Vinted on September 12, 2011 binned in overachiever wines, wine news, wine review

The important part about Turning The Towels Teal is that you can do some good just by drinking wine, which I’m pretty sure most of you reading will agree is the coolest helping-out-a-good-cause activity variant.

Throughout September (Ovarian Cancer Awareness month), Frederick Wildman and Sons will be donating $.50 of the U.S. sales of every bottle of Folonari and Trapiche wines (which they import) to the Turn the Towels Teal® campaign, which promotes Ovarian Cancer awareness and donations. 

If you friend up Wildman on Facebook, they will also donate $1; tweeting about their donation page via twitter will generate a $.50 donation. Now that I think about it, you don’t even actually have to get off your duff to help out. But since getting off your duff will be a lot more fun, here are a couple of Trapiche recommendations to get you started…

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The Riesling Doctor Is IN And He Will Kick Cabernet’s Butt Almost Any Day (12Most.com’s Most Fabulous Wines For Under $20)

Vinted on September 6, 2011 binned in overachiever wines, wine review

The Riesling Doctor is most certainly IN, and his rates are dirt cheap.

So goes the thinking (and tendency towards terrible, terrible puns) behind my contribution to an article titled “12 Most Fabulous Wines To Enjoy Now For Under $20,” coordinated by my friend Marie Payton and published at the popular site 12Most.com last week.

Marie asked me (along with a few other wine bloggers – check out the link for their groovy selections) to chime in and provide a pick for her wrap-up, the only conditions being that the wine had to be in fairly wide distribution and (obviously) cost under $20. Here’s a bit more info. on my selection, and the source of the (terrible) pun, and why I’m saying controversial shizz like Riesling kicks Cabernet’s butt

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Foley, Food Porn, And A West Coast Wine Geek-out

At the end of July, I wound up at the top of Chalk Hill in Healdsburg.  It was one of those events that I should be used to by now but that make me slightly uncomfortable anyway because they a) are held in lavish settings that seem to cost a billion dollars, b) usually end three and half hours late with an over-the-top, impeccably prepared/served lunch cooked by a French chef (and likely weighing in somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion calories – food porn coming in a minute or two, I promise), and c) have winemakers who’ve been flown-in from all over the place, any of whom may or may not be all that interested in making small-talk with you.

Events unfolded pretty much exactly to that plan during my visit to The Hill, though thankfully the folks who make up the winemaking crew of Foley Family Wines, whose portfolio we were tasting through, proved an amicable bunch.

Far and away the most exciting thing for me at these events is not the lavish stuff – and there was no shortage of that shizz: Chalk Hill’s pavilion, where we tasted and then lunched, has a 21-foot limestone fireplace, a panoramic view of the estate, and an Olympic-sized dressage riding arena made of Alaskan golden cedar that required a highway shutdown to transport, in which the horses ride (I am not making this up) on imitation dustless “dirt.”  Not that the setting is intimidating or anything…

Anyway… for me, the most exciting bit is always tasting the wine.  Is it any good? Is it worth the price?  Does it have a story it’s trying to convey?  Having the winemakers there just adds exponentially to the geek-out factor, and so eventually my nose gets in the glass, the surroundings get tuned out, and I enter geek-the-hell-out mode.  And it turns out, in a rare convergence of high incomes and good tastes, that the Foley portfolio has a lot in it that’s worth geeking-out over…

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