A Spattering of California Wineries
After I attended the Hospice du Rhone last April I spent a little time visiting a few wineries in California. I did not compile detailed notes on these visits, but many of the wines were quite noteworthy. Thus, I won’t provide my usual in depth look and insight into these wineries, but rather highlight them to suggest further exploration.
Linne Calodo is a “cocktail” winery. That is, they make huge, fruit forward wines that drink more like cocktails (in texture, intensity and alcohol) than wines made to go with food. They acknowledge this fact without shame. Luckily they do an extremely good job at constructing these sorts of beverages and I found considerable pleasure in their zin based blend Cherry Red. The wines are, unfortunately, overpriced, but are nevertheless impressive for what they are even if they aren’t wines I would drink on a regular basis.
Tablas Creek, on the other hand, made my favourite wines in Paso Robles. These are restrained wines focusing on balance rather than explosiveness. They are subtle, but also immediately enjoyable. These are nothing like Southern Rhone wines, but they do a brilliant job of reflecting the limestone soils of Paso and the unique climatic conditions of the western part of the region. Tablas also experiments with rare varieties and vineyard techniques and is moving to 100% head pruned vines, a first in Paso. The whites and reds are both phenomenal (in fact the whites are probably the best Rhone variety whites in the state), and the wines are extremely reasonably priced – showing, in fact, that California’s best really do compete at the upper echelon.
Copain was another impressive visit. Located in Sonoma, Copain focuses on cooler site Syrah and Pinot Noir and is one of the leaders of the ‘restraint’ brigade now promulgating in California wine. These wines are tight in their youth, but with several years of age they are immensely expressive, aromatic wines that are very friendly with food. Copain embraces the weirdness of Syrah and is entirely true to what that variety can do in California. I highly recommend them if you get the chance.