Paso Robles is a sprawling wine region, where more than 600,000 acres are planted to more than 40 different varietals in 13 distinct districts. Though zinfandel has been a historic star and Rhône varietals like syrah tend to make headlines these days, 55 percent of the region is planted to Bordeaux varietals, predominantly cabernet sauvignon.
Somehow, many people seem to have forgotten how large cab looms over Paso, so a new organization of Bordeaux fanatics is emerging to remind us. Next weekend, the CAB Collective hosts its coming-out party, with wine dinners in town on Friday night, April 26, and a grand tasting at Windmill Farms on Saturday, April 27. See pasoroblescab.com. Here are three producers to check out.
JUSTIN WINERY: “Zinfandel and syrah do really well, but cabernet is the pinnacle red grape, and Paso Robles can make great cabernet sauvignon,” said Scott Shirley, winemaker for the pioneering Justin Winery, one of the first 10 producers in a region that now boasts 300-plus. “We’ve had 30 years of experience farming these vineyards, but that doesn’t mean we know everything. We continue to learn the vineyard sites and make improvements.” The 2010 Isosceles — the 24th incarnation of this Medocminded blend of 85 percent cabernet sauvignon, 8 percent cab franc, and 7 percent merlot — presents deep red fruits upfront and then great minerality on the back end. $63; 15% alc.;justinwine.com
ADELAIDA WINERY: “My approach is to farm for quality and let my eyes, my nose, and my mouth tell me when to pick the fruit,” said winemaker Jeremy Weintraub. “I know some winemakers are in the low-alcohol camp or the ultra-ripe camp or whatever, but I don’t have a dogma here. I just want the wines to represent the sites rather than represent me.” The Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2009 is grown 14 miles from the ocean on Viking Vineyard’s steep limestone slope, offering elegant and full red-fruit flavors with the warm scent of vanilla. $75; 15.6% alc.; adelaida.com
CHATEAU MARGENE: “With the variations in districts here, the terroir from area to area can be significantly different,” said owner/winemaker Michael Mooney, who credits the shift from quantity to quality and the influx of winemakers from around the world for improving the region. “I would like to see a comparative tasting with Bordeaux varietals from all over the world that offers the attendees the ability to sample the best from everywhere and appreciate the uniqueness and diversity of the world’s best varietal, cabernet sauvignon.” The 2007 Beau Mélange blend of 45 percent cab, 33 percent merlot, and 22 percent cabernet franc blends savory herbs and evenly ripe fruit with intriguing licorice notes. $175; 14.9% alc.; chateaumargene.com