Paso Robles wineries scored well at the recent Central Coast Wine Competition, and one took the award for best wine of the competition, the 2010 Bodegas Paso Robles Monastrell ($49).
The competition is open to wines made from vineyards within the Central Coast American Viticulture Area, as well as Ventura and Contra Costa counties, but entries from San Luis Obispo County were predominant.
The winning wine was made from grapes grown on the east side of Paso Robles. Bodegas Paso Robles owner/winemaker Dorothy Schuler says she was making a blend and had some monastrell left over. “I thought the ’10 tasted like it could stand by itself,” she says, so she bottled about 50 cases of it.
The winery uses the Spanish name for the grape, in keeping with Schuler’s Spanish focus, but the flavors in the wine scream southern France, where it’s called mourvèdre. The wine displays smoky black fruit with notes of lavender and roasted meat. It finishes with firm but approach able tannins.
There were other local best-of-class standouts. Among the reds, the 2010 Silver Horse Garnacha ($42) — the Spanish name for grenache — brims with ripe strawberry and spice. The flavors are jammy but not overripe-tasting. The 2011 Hearst Ranch Three Sisters Cuvee ($22), a Rhône-style blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre, has aromas that come across as a little oaky, but the flavors are all about pretty berry fruit.
The sangiovese category was bleak, with a lot of wines that looked, smelled and tasted nothing like that grape. The notable exception was the 2010 Niner Bootjack Ranch Sangiovese ($28), which is plump and spicy, with lively red cherry fruit and approachable tannins. The top good Bordeaux-style red blend was the 2010 Lloyd of Calcareous Good for Nothing ($49), from Calcareous Vineyards. The wine, which hasn’t been released, is good for something: cellaring. It’s still tight and tannic but shows promise.
The whites included some great bargains. The 2012 J. Dusi Pinot Grigio ($14), for example, is a textbook example of the grape. It offers lively citrus flavors with a hint of almond paste. The 2012 Edna Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($15), another good deal, is fresh and a little grassy with pink grapefruit flavors.
For just a buck more, the 2012 Zocker Gruner Veltliner ($16) displays racy citrus flavors, accented by a hint of white pepper. And the 2012 Vina Robles White4 ($16), a blend of four grapes (hence the name), is very crisp and floral with white stone fruit and a persistent finish. This year’s blend is dominated by viognier and verdelho.
For a white that’s richer — and a little more expensive — there’s the 2012 Eberle Mill Road Vineyard Viognier ($23), a perennial award winner. The wine, scheduled to be released this fall, is fleshy yet fresh, with white peach flavors. It has some weight without being at all heavy.
Finish things off with the 2010 Pomar Junction Reserve “Amber Moonlight” Late Harvest Viognier ($20), a dessert wine that’s aromatic and very sweet, with white stone fruit and orange blossom.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Laetitia NV Brut Cuvee ($22): This sparkling wine, another big winner from the Central Coast Wine Competition, is fresh and lively, with pretty citrus and apple fruit and fine texture. It will make any occasion more festive.