To Try in 2020: Paso Robles Whites– Unexpected Grapes In an Unexpected Region #WinePW

Unusual White Wines from Paso Robles , CA

Question: What do these six wines have in common?
  • Castoro 2017 Falanghina CCOF estate
    ITALY: white grape; sample
  • Kenneth Volk 2012 Verdelho
    PORTUGAL: white grape; purchased
  • Barton 2017 “HOLIDAY” Clairette Blanche  
    FRANCE: Rhone white grape; sample 
  • Epoch 2018
    FRANCE: Rhone white grape blend: grenache blanc leads–
    biodynamic; Sue purchased at winery  
  • Tablas Creek 2017
    FRANCE: Rhone white grape blend; Rousanne leads; sample
  • Eberle 2018 Muscat canelli
    GREEK/ITALY: Greek white grape but most well known as Italian
Answer: These wines are all from Paso Robles CA and all might be considered wines made from “god-forsaken grapes” — grapes that are not common or unexpected in their home country AND not likely to be found outside their home country where they might not be all that appreciated either. And that’s the theme for this month’s Wine Pairing weekend prompt hosted by Culinary Cam– “godforsaken grapes” — a title that I hate that goes with a book I haven’t read but that I understand is quite entertaining and well written.
As people think first of red wines when think about wine from Central California’s Paso Robles if at all, we thought it would be fun to feature these uncommon and unexpected yet delightful white grapes from this less well known and under-appreciated region that is best known for its zinfandel, syrah, and cabernet blends — wines that are rich and red and often high in alcohol because so much of the AVA gets really hot in the summer.
Tablas Creek, Halter Ranch, Turley, and Justin are some of the better known labels with the first two of them focused on Rhone, Turley with zinfandel, and Justin with Cabernet and other Bordeaux red grapes.

When we realized we had quite a collection of interesting whites from Paso, we though it would be fun to taste them together along with some pairing suggestions of course! And hey, they fit right in wit this month’s #WinePW theme of “godforsaken” grapes.
When thinking about the wines, seafood immediately came to mind. As we fell in love with the monkfish in parchment that we had in the Loire with Careme Vouvray, I asked Sue if she was up for making it. Since we are both on winter break from teaching, she was excited to try something more challenging and new. Sue recreated this menu based on our experience in France at Chateau du Pray (which you can read about here). While she always states that she is not a chef, and her plating is not so pretty, she did a great representation of the meal.

Barton “Holiday” Clairette Blanche

Barton 2017 “HOLIDAY” Clairette Blanche — Willow Creek  – 13.4% alcohol
Rhone grape; 4 barrels; sample
  • Color – Golden, buttercup
  • Nose – Asian pear, cardamon, lemon, minerals, sea grass
  • Palate – Super tart lemon, woodsy sandalwood, amber, nice viscosity, lemon grass, bright acidity throughout the palate. Very rich mouthfeel. There is a wonderful richness on the palate.
  • Pairing – I thought about roast lemon chicken when I first tasted this wine. I also wanted fish and chips. With a funky rind cheese, it does so well. There is fruit and funk when the two meet; with Langres from France, the two together are so complex. Brings out the earthiness in the wine and the cheese, almost like root beer or sarsaparilla. Nice with a fresh raspberry as well.

Castoro Cellars Falanghina

Castoro 2017 Falanghina CCOF estate – 14.2% alcohol
Italian grape; sample 
Made with organic grapes
  • Color – Pale gold straw
  • Nose – Vanilla, asian pear, florals and fruit, white flowers, white stone fruit, honey crisp apple.
  • Palate – Sour apples. and cotton candy, tart and sweet, pear, not quite ripe pear and really ripe pear at the same time. Front of the palate brings the sweetness, mid palate there is the tart, the finish brings on nice minerality that lingers.
  • Pairing – Fantastic oyster wine bringing out a fantastic minerality in a Kumo oyster, and a creamy loveliness with the Pacific oysters Sue, “I want to keep that flavor in my mouth all night long!” Fun with caviar. I thought about pesto and wanted to sample some, but did not have any in the fridge. Okay with brie, but not fabulous. Okay with the Langres, better with the fresh goat. Sue wanted some LaTur. Great with olives, and I wanted to try tapenade with this wine.  Such a richness, a rootedness, a rich and earthiness that go together so well with the fish but even more so with the mussels.

2012 Kenneth Volk Verdelho

Kenneth Volk 2012 Verdelho – 14.6% alcohol
Portuguese grape; purchased on sale $12

Kenneth Volk started Wild Horse Vineyards. He sold Wild Horse and now has his own label. This semi aromatic white grape was traditionally used in Madiera (stayed tuned for more on that topic!).
  • Color – Golden straw, tinge of green
  • Nose – Saline and grass, but mostly lemon. It smells like the sea
  • Palate – Lemon curd, white flowers, white stone fruit. Because it is a 2012, there is a smoothness to it. Who would think that a seven year old wine from Paso would be so nice? Delicious wine without food, and will be terrific with food as well. Mouthwatering acidity!
  • Pairing – Fantastic with the Kumo oysters, there is a cucumber coolness left in the mouth when the oyster hits the palate, then follow up with the wine and there is a wild complexity as the simplicity of the oyster brings out a beautiful complexity in the wine. Wonderful with goat cheese and raspberries, and great with olives, so think tapas. While the Verdelho was fine with the mussels, but better with the fish and beurre blanc. Also loves the zucchini puree. I wanted to go back to the Verdelho with the meal, and I was not dissappointed, something about the lime and the fish together works really well with the wine.  This was Sue’s last choice of wine to mussel of the evening. Great lemony rich characteristic. As much as the Rhone wines of the evening were fabulous, this wine was fantastic with the seafood.
  • Epoch 2018
Rhone white grape blend: grenache blanc- 14.3% alcohol – $35
biodynamic; Sue purchased at winery  
This must be a God forsaken grape, because why aren’t more people making wines like this? Beautiful bottle, great presentation. 47% Grenache Blanc, 42% Viognier, 11% Roussanne.
  • Color – Pale buttercup
  • Nose – Gardenia, tuberose, a bit of grassy salinity
  • Palate – Rich and round, viscous, lots of bright acidity, tangerine pith on the finish as well as on the tip of the tongue.
  • Pairing – I again thought of roast chicken, and couldn’t wait to sample the oysters. Great caviar wine, Great with creamy cheeses, brie and the Langres were fun companions. Super food friendly wine. So fantastic with briney olives. Loves salt which really brings out the sweetness in the wine, not just sweet, but fruity. Serve this wine with a tapenade.  Bright fresh crisp cutting through all of the richness of the meal and when you go back to the meal it is a WOW moment and you are in heaven.

Biodynamic Tablas Creek and other unusual white wines from Paso Robles

Tablas Creek 2017 – Esprit Blanc De Tablas – 13% alcohol
Rhone white grape blend: 68% Roussanne, 17% Grenache Blanc, 7% Picpoul Blanc, 4% Clairette Blanche, 4% Picardan
NOTE: Tastes awful in a chardonnay glass, so serve in a Rhone glass (it makes a HUGE difference) and it is WONDERFUL!
  • Color – Pale hue.
  • Nose – Spicy nose, carnations, cinnamon and nutmeg, earthy baking spices,  gardenia, dried rose petals,
  • Palate – Viscous, such a lovely mouthfeel, lemon curd, slate, lemon grass, sea water as in the sea water of an oyster, honeycomb on the finish (but not sweet) the waxy earthy mineral characteristics of  honeycomb, gardenias, and white flowers
  • Pairing – We both wanted rich foods to take on this rich wine. Scampi, roast chicken, chicken piccata. Great with creamy brie and the Langres. With the garlic wine muscles, so fantastic. The algae and the sea is enhanced so much by the Esprit Blanc De Tablas. Fantastic with our fish dinner tonight.
Eberle 2018 Muscat canelli – 10.5%
Greek white grape but most well known as Italian
  • Color – clear, platinum, white gold
  • Nose – one of the most aromatic wines, white flowers orange rind and peel, and a bit of almond nougat with citrus peel, gardenia, waxy white flowers, I got a bit of white chocolate, but Sue was not following along.
  • Palate – The alcohol is low so it is light and bright, leaving the palate with a bright citrusy beautiful compilation. Lemon grape juice. Citrus and grape, tang and fruit, it is really a great expression of grape juice. I found meyer lemon and tangerine, I could even go as far as blood orange which is a completely different place. It has a lovely textural quality. For Sue it was all about the lemonade flavors, lemon and grape, clean salinity, like lemon ice with a touch of white grape juice
  • Pairing – This wine loves fresh fruit. Muscat Canelli and a simple pomegranate seed will send you through the roof, then follow through with a fresh raspberry giving it the sweetness that the raspberry needs and it is amazing. This wine loves fresh fruit. Muscat Canelli and a simple pomegranate seed will send you through the roof, then follow through with a fresh raspberry giving it the sweetness that the raspberry needs and it is amazing.. Both of us just wanted to eat the fresh fruit and the wine together. In Europe salads and cheese are a typical dessert. This would be a wine to serve with that. While I was all about bites of the salad with the Muscat, Sue decided to finish the cheese on her plate. It makes the cheese a dessert, and brings out such interesting flavors in the salad, bringing out such complexity in the entire meal. Finishing with sweet, savory,

So what makes Paso so special? There is an intensity of the fruit which when paired with the right wine is heavenly!

In art a canvas needs to have gesso, it needs to be primed. So with these wines, the foods are primed. Without that you wouldn’t see what the food/wine has to offer.

Join us on twitter where host Culinary Cam will lead us in a discussion of the following:

  • 1/11/2020 11:00 a.m. EST  
  • Welcome to the #WinePW chat on #GodforsakenGrapes! Introduce yourself, and where you are tweeting from. Share a link to your blog if applicable.
  • 1/11/2020 11:07 a.m. EST
  • Q1 So we are talking about #GodforsakenGrapes this morning for today’s #WinePW, the first event of 2020. When you read the term ‘godforsaken grapes’ tell us what popped into your head.
  • 1/11/2020 11:14 a.m. EST 
  • Q2 Host @Culinary_Cam was inspired to host this topic after reading @boozecolumnist’s book by the same title – #GodforsakenGrapes. Both @tsteffes and @WendyKlik posted their thoughts on the book in their posts. Have you read it? If so, did you find it inspiring? Daunting? Both??
  • 1/11/2020 11:21 a.m. EST 
  • Q3 Why do you think that some varietals are forgotten and/or used less than others and become #GodforsakenGrapes? Are the important factors on the producers’ side? The consumers’ side? Or a combination of both? #WinePW
  • 1/11/2020 11:28 a.m. EST 
  • Q4 What #GodforsakenGrapes varietal did you pick to pour today? Share a link to your blog if you wrote a post for #WinePW. Was it a new-to-you wine? Or had you had it before? Thoughts??
  • 1/11/2020 11:35 a.m. EST 
  • Q5 What did you serve with your #GodforsakenGrapes wine? How did the pairing fare? How did the flavors in the food complement your wine? Share a link to your blog if you wrote on the topic today. #WinePW
  • 1/11/2020 11:42 a.m. EST 
  • Q6 If you didn’t make any food for this month’s #WinePW, what DID you pair with your #GodforsakenGrapes wines? Thinking of cheese pairings, perhaps. How did the flavors in the food complement your wine?
  • 1/11/2020 11:49 a.m. EST 
  • Q7 How difficult was it for you to locate your #GodforsakenGrapes pick? Was it available at a local shop? Or did you source your bottle online? #WinePW Any recommendations for us to use would be appreciated.
  • 1/11/2020 11:50 a.m. EST [remove your own handle if the tweet is too long!]
  • Shoutout to the #WinePW bloggers who posted about #GodforsakenGrapes. @GrapeExp_Cindy @foodwineclick @WendyKlik @ArtPredator @dracaenawines @jillbarth @cookingchat @asiantestkitchn @martindredmond @tsteffes @pairchifoodwine @sommstable @LemieuxAndrea @corksconcierge @Culinary_Cam
  • 1/11/2020 11:57 a.m. EST 
  • Q8 #WinePW Any final thoughts about #GodforsakenGrapes? Did you learn something new? Are you inspired to track down a new-to-you wine? If so, which one(s)? Do tell!
  • 1/11/2020 11:59 a.m. EST 
  • Next month #WinePW will be focusing on Savoie hosted by @jillbarth. Can’t wait to see the invitation.
  • 1/11/2020 12:00 p.m. EST 
  • Thanks for joining the January 2020 #WinePW chat as we talked about #GodforsakenGrapes. Hope you enjoyed! Cheers.


10 thoughts on “To Try in 2020: Paso Robles Whites– Unexpected Grapes In an Unexpected Region #WinePW

  1. I am a huge fan of Castoro Cellars. My brother lives right near Paso so I get to visit those wineries whenever I am in California. Thanks for giving me a couple of new stops to try.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love seeing all these Paso Wines! We have so much to offer and we are starting to get more and more respect. Rhone varieties are so popular in Paso and thanks to Jason Haus, they are proving the wines are amazing!
    I am not familiar with Barton although I’m a fan of Willow Creek. I will have to locate them and give them a try.

    Liked by 1 person

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