Paso Robles Winemaker Interviews + Win BlendFest Tickets

Ambassador Matt Browne of hootnannie.com

Ambassador Matt Browne of hootnannie.com

*This contest is now over. Congratulations to our winners, Alice O. and Cynthia C.!

The following article was written by Matt Browne, a member of Cambria’s ambassador team. You can learn more about Matt on his blog Hoot N Annie which focuses on regional wines from the Paso Robles area.

BlendFest is a first of its kind wine event here on the central coast. As the name implies, it’s all about blends…wine blends that is. I think it would be difficult to walk into a tasting room today and not find at least one blend on the tasting menu.

Due to the significant rise in blends (and number of wineries) in the area, introducing this new event seems only logical. Wineries are constantly looking for a way to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack and this focus on blends may just help those that are participating.

The list of wineries attending (29 as of right now) is rather impressive for a first year event, you can check that list here. I took this opportunity to get in touch with a few of my winery friends to get their take on this new event. It will be interesting to chat with them after the event as well to get their thoughts on how it went.

For consistency, I asked each of them the same three questions. Here we go:

Jason Haas of Tablas Creek

I am not aware of a wine event that strictly focuses on blends. What is it about this idea that intrigued you to want to participate in BlendFest?

UntitledI think that Paso Robles is making a name for itself around blends – both traditional, like Bordeaux and Rhone, and modern, across old world regions – so it’s a great way of highlighting one of our points of distinction. On a more personal level, at Tablas Creek we’ve overwhelmingly focused on blends since the beginning, and I remember when you had to overcome this when you were out presenting the wines… that the assumption was that a blend wouldn’t be as good as a varietal wine. I’m thrilled that we’re past that, but think that an event focusing on the great blends that we make can only be a good thing.

What do you think blends offer the wine consumer that solo varietal wines cannot?

I make the analogy to cooking: how often do you cook with just one ingredient? Having the different flavors – and maybe even more importantly, the different textures, tannin structures, and fruit-acid balances – of the different grapes allows you to build a wine that’s more complete and less manipulated than you’d often have to do with a single grape. What’s more, I think that it helps you express terroir. If you believe that there is an innate character that the place gives any wine that’s made there, then blending different grapes, each with their own flavor characteristics but each sharing the character of the terroir, will emphasize the terroir relative to the typically higher-volume flavors of individual grapes.

Do you know what wines you’ll be pouring at the event?

We’ll be pouring the 2013 Cotes de Tablas Blanc, the 2012 Cotes de Tablas, and the 2012 Esprit de Tablas.

 

Jennifer Abascal of Vines on the Marycrest

I am not aware of a wine event that strictly focuses on blends. What is it about this idea that intrigued you to want to participate in BlendFest?10633818_10152224685800882_4797155627155066909_o

Paso has become known for its creative and delicious blends. We actually chose Paso to start our winery because we wanted to make blends. What a clever concept for a Paso Robles festival!

What do you think blends offer the wine consumer that solo varietal wines cannot?

I think wine drinkers can get pigeon-holed into only drinking the 100% varietals they are most familiar with (or the ones they can pronounce easily). Blends give us an opportunity to open up our perception of what we like by exposing us to many grape varieties at once. Blends also give the winemaker a chance to really express his or her artistic vision.

Do you know what wines you’ll be pouring at the event?

We will definitely pour 2012 My Generation our blend of estate zinfandel with syrah, mourvedre and petite sirah (it is our most popular blend). We will also pour our 2012 ‘Round Midnight blend of Syrah, Genache and Mourvedre. If we have enough, we plan to pour 2012 Spanish Bombs our first vintage of an all estate blend of Cabernet, Tempranillo, Grenache and Carignane.

Neeta Mittal of LXV Wines

I am not aware of a wine event that strictly focuses on blends. What is it about this idea that intrigued you to want to participate in BlendFest?

A festival such as BlendFest is the most relevant expression for Paso Robles winemaking philosophy, in general, and LXV Wines, in particular.

wines_CJ2010Rising Tempo – LXV’s Grenache-Syrah-Tempranillo blend – is a unique take of the traditional GSM, where Tempranillo, with its smokiness and leather, gives a new dimension to the fruit and spice of Syrah and Grenache. We call it our Dirty GSM! The popular Super Tuscan Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon gets a paradigm shift with Crimson Jewel – a blend where the bracing acidity of Sangiovese gets a setting in the highly structured and heavy Petite Sirah! Our Rose is primarily Syrah, from four different vineyard blocks, A very small amount of Viognier lifts the nose and palate, contributing brightness, balance, and a slight floral hint to the wine.

What better forum, than Blendfest, to share these wines that celebrate the art of fusion – in winemaking.

What do you think blends offer the wine consumer that solo varietal wines cannot?

Wine is like dance. The solos portray the strength of an artist but their versatility can only be highlighted in a canvas with other dancers. And if you bring two completely different styles together, it could lead to a climactic fusion! We blend to celebrate the undeniable chemistry between certain varietals.

Do you know what wines you’ll be pouring at the event?

We are featuring our newly released Rose. We think of it as a French Summer in a bottle. The Crimson Jewel is a blend of Sangiovese -Petite Sirah. A food lover’s muse.

Indulge in the essence of BlendFest, right at the LXV table – we will be tasting two straight varietals and then the blend we have created. And then we will let you indulge in some blending yourself.

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Want to attend BlendFest on us? We’re giving away two tickets to both the afternoon and evening tastings! All you have to do is:

1. Click the Facebook button below to share this post.
2.  Leave us a comment in the section below and tell us which tasting you’d like to attend: Afternoon or Evening

Good luck! winners will be notified next Friday, February 6 here in this post.

 

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Highway Closures

Highway 1 Closure

If you're heading to the Central Coast, be sure to be mindful of the stretch of Highway 1, 21 miles north of Cambria. Caltrans is busy with a major construction project to make traveling along the stunning Pacific Coast Highway a safer journey.

Highway 1 Storm Repair Along the Big Sur Coast Due to multiple active slides, State Route 1 is now closed between Ragged Pt. (SLO 72.87) and just south of Nepenthe (Mon 44).

Worried about Highway 1 Road Closures? Cambria and Hearst Castle are easily accessible from Highway 46 West from 101 South of Paso Robles or from northbound Highway 1 from the city of San Luis Obispo. Travelers from the north can easily take Highway 101 as an alternate route to Highway 1, which reduces travel time to Cambria by about 25 minutes.

For the latest road closure information visit the Caltrans website.