Central Coast Trip Notes

Posted: Fri Oct 08, 2021 5:43 pm
by Bob Davis
First off, thanks to all that offered up suggestions in the various Paso Robles thread. Most of our favorites came from other peoples' suggestions.

Just going to list the wineries with some commentary.

Ridge – Tasted Estate Chardonay, Pagani Zin, Estate Cab, & Lytton Syrah, 2011 Montebello. Bought the first four but the MB was pretty green and in need of years of rest.

Melville – Good wines but the Pinots seemed lacking at this point. Estate Chard and Syrah were very good.

Babcock – Since it was next door. OK nothing we were able to taste stood out. But the Clairette Blanche was good for the price.

Pence – Had never heard of it but the woman working at Melville recommended it. We really liked most of the wines especially the estate Chard, Pinot, and Syrah.

Dinner: Hitching Post II. We decided to give it a try and I ordered a steak (which I never do) figuring they should be able to do this. Wrong. Worst meal of the trip. My ribeye was tough and tasteless. It was sent back and exchanged for rack of lamb that was a huge improvement. I would avoid this place at all costs. My fault for not figuring out this place had turned turned into a tourist trap.

Brewer-Clifton - Excellent wines across the board. The Machado Chardonnay and Pinot were standouts.

Stolpman – Solid across the board. We usually buy the Roussanne at it makes it to the East Coast.

Dragonnette – The only standout was the Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc. Truly outstanding and different in a good way.

Liquid Farm – The Chardonnays and Pinots were very good across the board. Worth buying.

Tercero – We were disappointed they were not tasting the varietal white wines.

Dinner at SY Kitchen. Great food but I’ll bet Carol and I significantly dropped the average age in the place when we walked in.

Friday Tin City
Monochrome – All white wine blends. Not the norms: Sauvignon & Chenon Blanc, Chardonnay and Marsanne. Good stuff.

Turtle Rock – Next dor to Monochrome. Very good Rose followed by a solid lineup of red blends. Very good.

Desparada – Nice wines where nothing stood out.

Aaron – Started off with 2 very good Pinots. Ample fruit and good aromatics. Followed by 2 Red blends and a Petite Sirah. These were hugely (not too much) extracted big, hedonistic wines. Says Paso wines in spades. Loved them.

Nicora – These were almost all 100% varietal Syrah and Grenache. Excellent in every way: fruit, tannins, acidity.
Saturday – Paso Robles

Pax Sur Terre – Mostly 2019 Mourvedre wines. Except for the Syrah they all exhibited red fruit aromas and flavors. They started out with decent flavors but the significant tannins and acidity clamped down pretty quickly making it hard to judge them. IMO, unless one had experience tasting these wines there was no way to tell how good they may be. Overall a disappointment.

Epoch Estate – Superb across the board. All Rhone blends with good extraction and balance. Their 2020 Rose (Mourvedre/Syrah/Grenache) was excellent.

Brecon Estate – Another disappointment. Most of my notes indicate lighter bodied, toasty oak, “nice”.

Dinner at Paso Terro. Recommeded


Adelaida – Since I liked their wines in the past we made a reservation for the wine and food pairings. Well made wines with balance and not overly extracted. I would guess they dialed things back since 2007. The 2018 Syrah was the standout here as well as the sparkler. The 15% plus alcohols were not evident while tasting.

Kukkula – Nice, uninteresting wines.

Lone Madrone – The Picpoul Blanc was excellent. The mezcla Roja was good. But tannic. The Bailey Zin lacked enough fruit to break through the tannins. And we finally decided neither of us like Tannat. We were going to buy some wine to ship bu the shipping made Marcassin shipping look like a baragain. Passed.

Vines on the Marycrest – a small 2 person winery on the way back into town. Good across the board with names after various song titles. Even Buck’s Boogie (Blue Oyster Cult). We took home a bottle of Zin. It’s definitely worth a stop.

Dinner at Il Cortile – Best meal of the trip. The Pork shank oso bucco was delicious. But the beef carpoccio over parmesan fonduta and topped with shaved black truffles. Paired with a 2013 Epoch Syrah.


TH Estate (Terry Hoage) – The winery’s style has dialed it back on the fruit which was disappointing. The Rhones are well made and balanced but not a buy at $70+ for them. They also now make Pinots from Sta Rita Hills vineyard which are also good but again not a buy at $75+. The ones we tasted in Santa Barbara County were far superior.

Clos Selene – Got a last minute appointment that morning. By far one of the best stops in Paso. Rich, flavorful wines with excellent balance and finishes. Another purchase.

McPrice Myers – We’re club members so somewhat buased. They were tasting Fall club selections. Excellent.

Tablas Creek – Also club members here (whites only) so I tasted only reds. These are definitely made to age as tannins and acidity take front stage before the fruit. The oldest Esprit (2017) was very good. We also reconfirmed out dislike of Tannat.

Dinner at The Catch – good, not great.

Tuesday – Tin City

Field Recordings – OK wines. The make way too many wines which is evident in that none of them stand out. They change what they make every year.

Giornata – Italian varietals. Very well made but except for the Barbera and Nebbiolo they spoke mostly of California wine.

Union Sacre – This winery was recommended by most of the other Tin City wineries. We really liked the whites. The 2019 Pinot Noir was pretty light. The Cab Franc screamed of Chinon. Some green notes on the nose and palate. Not too off-putting.

Dinner at Alchemists Garden was very good. Formerly Villa Creek.

Last Day Wednesday

Dusi – Stopped here as a walk-in on the way to Villa Creek. Good wines. I can see why so many other wineries in the area buy their grapes.

Villa Creek – Was curious to see what’s been going on here since I hadn’t tasted them in about 10 years. Started off with the 2018 Roussanne. This style has changed. If I remember correctly this used to be a big-fruited with a soft finish. This version is outstanding. A killer nose followed by copious fruit and some bright acidity. Had 2018 and 2019 vintages of High Road. Both were great. We tasted 2 MAHA wines (essentially reserve wines). We preferred the Backlit of ether Understory but liked them both.

Finishing Observations

You may be wondering how we tasted so many wines and still have functioning livers. We share tastes. Otherwise we would be napping by 3 o’clock.

Some wineries open their spiel by referring to the big extracted wines of Paso and then say they don’t do that. Maybe they should. The ripe fruit is what sells Paso wines to us. Some do it in a very well balanced way and some just say “bombs away” and let it go at that. Other wineries have dialed back the fruit which, IMHO, generally did not improve them.

A while ago we had moved on from Northern California Pinot Noir to Oregon. But tasting Pinots in Los Olivos and Lompoc made us believers again.

Paso Robles has really changed since my last visit in 2007. Way more restaurants. Wineries seemed to have doubled. Lots of new grape plantings.