No stranger to festivals celebrating its multitude of grapes, it was only a matter of time before Paso Robles had a festival to celebrate the region’s prized Cabernet Sauvignon which it got last year with the CAB’s of Distinction Gala, hosted by the Paso Robles CAB Collective.
The Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective was started in 2012 by an independent collaborative effort of the leading Paso Robles growers and producers of Bordeaux varieties with the sole purpose of establishing Paso Robles as a premier Cabernet producing region.
While initially catapulted into fame for its exquisite Zinfandel production, Paso Robles produces a multitude of Rhone, Bordeaux, Spanish and Italian varieties, all of which thrive in the diverse microclimates and soil types within the Paso Robles AVA. Having to compete with over 40 + varieties within the region, the CAB Collective was formed to promote the growing number of producers focusing on Bordeaux varieties. Many would be surprised to find that Bordeaux grapes are actually the most planted vines in the region, making up over 50% of the total planted acreage.
Quickly becoming one of the region’s best festivals, this year the 2nd annual CAB’s of Distinction Gala was held at River Oaks Hot Springs alongside various media, sommelier and consumer events that were held throughout the week celebrating all things CAB.
Some highlights of the week included a barrel tasting of some excellent 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon at the historic Paso Robles Inn Ballroom, followed by a tasting of new releases and special reserve library wines, a winemaker’s dinner at the newly opened Le Vigne Winery tasting room, a picnic lunch and winery tour at Pomar Junction, and a vintner panel discussion moderated by Wine Enthusiast contributing editor Matt Kettmann.
Despite the growing fanfare for Cabernet Sauvignon, many have resisted the addition of the variety into Paso Robles’ repertoire, still preferring to typecast the region as making a certain style of wine (Zinfandel, Rhone Style Blends…..). Yet Paso Robles continues to defy the odds with its ever growing number of grapes produced in a multitude of styles. The addition of Cabernet to this multitude can only add more layers of complexity, showcasing the versatility of the still emerging region and proving once and for all that Paso Robles really can do it all.
But don’t just take my word for it, the proof is in the glass!
Here are my top three picks of the Paso Robles Cabernets and Bordeaux style blends you should be drinking!
L’AVENTURE – Anything you can get your hands on from this lovely winery is bound to be superb, but I have a particular weak spot for the L’Aventure Estate Cuvee, a delicious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petit Verdot.
“While generously juicy, in the spirit of the vintage, it captures the essence of the blend, with exuberant Syrah notes brought to heel by an almost austere Cabernet. The attack is grand, with cassis and cola, licorice and graphite, ending in a gripping, long, deep, complex finish. As usual, there are so many complexities and layers of flavor in this wine, that you really need to lay down a few cases and watch it develop over the years. This is definitely the “crème de la crème”
HALTER RANCH– A great little historic winery in the heart of Paso Robles, Halter Ranch focuses on producing stellar Bordeaux and Rhone varieties, all sustainably farmed and all estate grown. Their signature Ancestor Bordeaux-style blend changes each year but is always out of this world. The 2011 blend is 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec
“Ancestor offers complex aromas of ripe blackberries and allspice. Elegant and balanced, this age-worthy wine has soft, seamless tannins and a plush round mouth feel. Ancestor pairs well with beef, lamb and game and will develop beautifully in the bottle for the next 10-15 years”
CALCAREOUS– Perched on a mountain 1,200 feet on top of Paso Robles, Calcareous winery continues to produce beautiful, fruit driven wines year after year. While they have gotten most of their critical acclaim for their Rhone style blends, many forget they actually make stunning Cabernet Sauvignon as well. Their Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon and their York Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon will definitely win you over
“The dark opaque ruby color gives a good indication of the level of extraction achieved in this wine. The nose is heavy with dark fruits and essential oil of spring flowers. This is followed by strong varietal flavors of dark chocolate, cassis and spice. Full, round tannins produce a rich chalky finish. While very rewarding to drink now, will easily cellar for up to ten additional years.”