Wine Column | There are Times When Only the Finest Will Do

By Bennet Bodenstein

There are times when only the finest will do, and I was recently able to sample some wines from the Paso Robles district that well fit that description. It is a known fact that, in wine grape grown, location means everything. The areas in and around Paso Robles California are gaining fame among “those who know” as a possible rival to the better known wine producing California counties of Napa and Sonoma.  Location is not the only feature of Paso Robles wines. Much of the fruit that is produced there is state of the art and organically grown. By using top starting material there is little wonder that their wines can successfully compete with the best of the best from anywhere in the world and, with the first sip of a Paso Robles wine, it will positively prove that beyond any doubt.

Halter Ranch 2020 Paso Robles Ancestor ($85). It is the cabernet sauvignon, that most wineries stake their reputation and this wine more than supports that the Halter Ranch makes some very impressive Cabernet Sauvignon wines. This wine displays a vivid black cherry, berry and spice aroma, backed by notes of moca and tobacco in the aroma. The fruit carries over to the flavor where it mingles with a generous amount of oak. The finish of this wine is long, fruity and smooth. This is an excellent wine that is definitely deserving of being the style that this winery hangs its hat on.

Halter Ranch 2019 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($65). A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot, the 2019 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a well aged, full flavored wine, with everything one seeks in a fine cab. This wine displays a bright ruby color, with intense dark cherry, cedar, vanilla and cinnamon aromas. The flavor features raspberry, blueberry, cherry and a hint of cocoa which are also obvious in the finish. I was amazed by how much this wine tastes like the megabuck Bordeaux chateau wines and is definitely a wine worth its price.

Halter Ranch 2022 Paso Robles Grenache Blanc ($45). Grenache blanc is not a variety usually not presented as a single variety but rather being used as a white wine and this wine left me scratching my head and wondering “why not.” Aged for 10 months in French oak, this is a blend of 92% Grenache Blanc, 5% Picpoul Blanc, 2% Viognier, the wine offers the aromas of white flowers, melon, and a suggestion of guava. The flavor is alive  with pear, apple, and citrus and a hint of the minerality which also appears in all of the Harder Ranch wines If you are a fan of white wines this is one wine not to miss. 

Daou Discovery Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($30). Another Paso Robles wine producer is the Daou Family wines. Daou Discovery Cabernet Sauvignon holds nothing back and displays all of the flavors and aromas that have made the variety so popular. The aroma displays copious amounts of blackberry, cassis, leather and herbs with layers of plum and cherry, chocolate pleasantly lying in the background. The finish reflects black fruits, cherry and boysenberry and the mystery that surrounds a cabernet sauvignon. I believe that this is a wine that deserves your interest.

Daou 2019 Paso Robles Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($50). By no means a lesser wine but the same theme with a slightly different melody. The heat wave, fire and smoke which bedeviled California in 2019 has had absolutely no effect on this vintage. Good weather and clear skies during the later stages of the growing period allowed plenty of time for the grapes to fully ripen and mature. What results was a well-balanced wine blessed with the aromas of black currants, sweet cherries and a hint of chocolate. There are no harsh edges on this wine and it needs no further aging. I also believe that this wine is the equal to  any of the other cabs in the same price category from anywhere in the world.