Food & Drink

San Luis Obispo County wines promoted at Mid-State Fair

Local wines, especially those from Paso Robles, fared extremely well at the recent Central Coast Wine Competition, part of the California Mid-State Fair.

The wine that took top honors was the very affordable 2009 Vina Robles White4 ($16), a Paso Robles blend of vermentino, verdelho, viognier and a smidgen of sauvignon blanc that is bright, fresh and a little creamy, with pear, apple and peach flavors. It was also named the best white wine. The best red was the 2008 Alapay Cellars French Camp Vineyard Lagrein ($40), a grape more commonly associated with the Alto Adige region of northeastern Italy than with Paso Robles. The wine is full-bodied and spicy, with blueberry and fine tannins.

In addition to the merlots and red Bordeaux-style blends I told you about last week, I judged the petite sirahs. As a category, the wines were a little disappointing, because far too many of them were pruney and overly tannic. But I was impressed by a pair of wines. The 2007 Leprino La Panza Ranch Petite Sirah ($39), which took best-of-class honors, is no shrinking violet and is plenty tannic, but it also offers bright, attractive flavors of blueberry, spice and coffee. The 2007 Clavo Cellars Petite Sirah ($30) is dense and glass-coating, with blueberry and spice flavors and firm structure.

The fortified, port-style wines were strong, especially the entries from PasoPort Wine Company. Its 2007 Portray Ruby ($30), a blend of zinfandel, petite sirah and syrah, offers velvety flavors of berry and fig, while the non-vintage Angelica ($38), an aged white port that contains verdelho, muscat and chenin blanc, was all honey and nuts.

In addition to the Vina Robles White4, standouts in the “other white dry” category included the 2008 Kenneth Volk Malvasia Bianca ($24), which is crisp and intensely floral, and the nonvintage Graveyard Paso Tombstone White ($14), a blend of sauvignon blanc, riesling and a touch of muscat canelli. It’s also very floral, with a hint of lime peel on the finish.

In the sweepstakes round, to determine the best of the best, there were some delicious wines. I’m not generally a big fan of California viognier, but the 2009 Eberle Mill Road Vineyard Viognier ($21) is a lovely wine, rich and fleshy, with ample white stone fruit. The 2009 Per Cazo Cellars Tres Blanc ($25), a blend of grenache blanc, roussanne and viognier, offered similar flavors. Both wines were made from Paso Robles grapes.

Paso Robles’ reputation for syrah has been on the rise in recent years, and the 2007 Venteux Syrah ($46) shows why: Made from a dry-farmed vineyard, the wine is inky-dark, with smoky berry flavors and notes of spice and roasted coffee.

Pinot noir judges picked an Edna Valley wine, the 2008 Claiborne & Churchill Pinot Noir ($28), as the best example of that variety. The wine, which displays plump cherry, raspberry and spice flavors, is structured yet supple.

The 2009 Pear Valley Orange Muscat ($14) from Paso Robles was named best dessert wine.

Laurie Daniel writes a weekly column on wine. E-mail her at