Thursday, August 5, 2010
We just can't get enough of Sculpterra Winery and both planned and impromptu educational sessions with winemaker, Paul Frankel!
On the last day of July, we zipped out to take advantage of the monthly wine specials. As good luck would have it, Paul was in the tasting room!
After sampling yummy vintages at the bar, Paul invited us to thieve from the barrel of one of his new wine "projects..." and one more reason we love him!
Paul's 2009 AKRB (a Rhone blend pictured above in the photo) contains 44% Syrah, 28% Mourvedre and 28% Petite Syrah.
Each of the varietals was crushed separately, then barreled separately. They were blended after 8 months in their individuals barrels, on July 21, 2010.
Nice experiment! But WAIT! There's more.... Paul employed numerous yeasts in this process.
The Syrah contains 3 yeasts, and the Mourvedre and Petite Syrah each have 1 yeast, for a total of FIVE different strains of yeast for one blend of wine!
Paul thieved from the barrel so we could sample this incredible blend, featuring a rich coffee bouquet, chocolate and black cherries and lush berries on the palate, and even a subtle hint of bacon.
But please don't freak out!
This is a fantastic, slightly exotic Rhone blend that will satisfy all of us who appreciate these big berry bombs.
Did I mention that Paul told Ron and me that, besides himself, we were FIRST to taste the AKRB?!?? Feeling special, are we? Uh, yeah!
Go now, Sculpterra is an amazing and fun winery, Paul is brilliant and delightful, and the tasting room folks are wonderful, warm people!
The photo here shows four Puncheon wine barrels, full of different varietals. Puncheon barrels are a unique size, holding 500 litres.
We had taken off time to celebrate our seven-year-itch anniversary by visiting friends in Los Angeles, but Ron came down with bronchitis.
So we ended up on a "stay-cation" which we dubbed "Club Meds!"
No problem, we saved money, which is a good thing. And, we visited some new wineries.
First on our list was Calcareous, recommended
to us by many of our wine-loving friends.
Calcareous sits on a high hill overlooking valleys and mountains in every direction.
The tasting room is nice blend of modern and rustic, and the grounds are perfect for picnics!
We had made a pit-stop at TJ's and bought a loaf of bread, some gooey pesto/cheese spread and a big tray of sushi... we were ready to chow.
But we started by sipping through the tasting list with our host, Christy.
Everything was delicious, and three wines in particular stood out as exceptional:
The 2006 Syrah at 15.8% alcohol and the 2007 Tres Violet, a blend of 58% Syrah, 30& Grenache and 12% Mourvedre which also boasted 15.8% alcohol.
Ron, of course, loved the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, another 15.8% alcohol wine.
Oh, and I can't forget to mention that the winemaker, Jason Joyce, has been making magic with a 2008 Pinot Noir.
We were fortunate enough to get a sample from the barrel that afternoon!
I bought a glass of the Tres Violet and Ron got the Cab, then we headed out to the picnic area.
Since we were the only guests at the time, we had our pick of tables.
It was surprising, as this place is really lovely with gorgeous views and delicious wine.
Anyway, we pigged out as the wind (dang, it has been a windy, cold summer!) tried to thwart our happiness but to no avail -- ha haaaa!
The wine was just too good, along with all our lunchables, to be ruined.
We will go back to Calcareous many times, and depending on our future economic status, we would like to become members!
And of course, we recommend that YOU check out this gem of a winery.
We have a castle right here in Paso Robles!
Even better, they sell wine at the castle, because this is a winery.
It's called Eagle Castle and it is situated just off Highway 46 West.
Ron and I visited in July while most everybody else in north
county was at the Mid-State Fair.
It's our favorite time to get out and about during summer. Why?
No crowds! We don't do crowds very well unless we happen to be on a stage playing for them.
Here is Ron gazing over the moat.
Because, really, you can't keep the castle safe without a moat!
We did not, however, see alligators or sharks swimming in the moat.
The tasting room was but one large room on the first floor, and the bar was probably 40 feet in length!
Tim assisted us in our wine tasting experience.
Both Ron and I especially liked the two white wines on the list: the 2008 Chardonnay and the 2008 Viognier.
Both topped out at 13.9% alcohol and were highly drinkable. We are old school about our Chardonnays and prefer them to carry the oaky/buttery thing on the palate. Un-oaked Chardonnay is not worth our time except for scientific reasons!
We discovered this old piano in the tasting room.
So I sat down to play a few bars of Mozart, just for kicks.
Of the reds, I enjoyed the 2006 Trinity, a blend of 58% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Syrah with alcohol by volume at 15.01%
The 2007 Royal Red was also a good blend, featuring 56% Syrah, 30% Merlot and 14% Cab. Alcohol came in at 15.5% and the wine received "Best Red Wine Blend" at the California State Fair wine competition. Nice job!
Ron liked the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (14.9% alcohol), and I also picked out the 2007 Petite Syrah (15.5% alcohol) -- no big surprises there!
Overall, the Eagle Castle Winery is a fun tour. They even have a restaurant which serves lunch and is the hosting room for their events. It's beautiful! Go on a warm afternoon and enjoy a bottle of their white wine or pick your favorite red from the tasting list.