Press | San Francisco Chronicle: Paso Robles doesn’t have a signature grape variety. Is that a freedom or a limitation?
By: Esther Mobley
Paso Robles in summertime: hot. Sticky, heavy, close heat. The kind of heat where it’s uncomfortable to wear a hat, but you can’t not wear a hat.
Such are the conditions in Paso during a visit over the summer. We have the air conditioning on full blast, winemaker Jeremy Weintraub and I, as we drive up to see the Hoffman Mountain Ranch (HMR) Vineyard, 400 steep and sprawling acres in Paso’s west side owned by Weintraub’s employer, Adelaida Vineyards & Winery.
“So, is this Syrah?” I ask as the truck climbs into the vineyard. If not Syrah, I assume, maybe Grenache or Tannat, Tempranillo or Cabernet — grapes that can thrive in hot conditions.
The last thing I’m expecting to see here is Pinot Noir, that famous lover of cooler climes. But that’s exactly what we’re looking at as we pull up to HMR.
In the recent article from Jeb Dunnuck (former reviewer at the Wine Advocate) from JebDunnuck.com, 14 Adelaida wines were rated 90 or more points. Some highlights include a 94 for 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Signature, Viking Vineyard and a 94 for our 2016 Syrah Signature, Anna's Vineyard. Read on for more:
Cabernet Sauvignon Signature, Viking Estate Vineyard 2016 Shop Now
94 points - The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Viking Estate Vineyard is 100% varietal and spent 20 months in 75% new French oak. It's another deeply colored, classic wine from Weintraub. Crème de cassis, blackcurrants, smoked earth, and leafy herb notes all flow to a full-bodied, powerful, sweetly fruited effort that has beautiful depth and richness, good acidity, and a clean finish. Made in a soft, plush, forward yet elegant style, drink it over the coming decade.
Syrah Signature, Anna‘s Estate Vineyard 2016 Shop Now
94 points - One of the gems in the lineup, the 2016 Syrah Signature Anna's Estate Vineyard is 100% Syrah that spent 18 months in 70% new French oak. Graphite, chocolate, smoked black fruits, and damp earth nose all flow to a rich, powerful yet beautifully balanced Syrah that has loads to love. With sweet tannin and a stacked mid-palate, it will keep for 7-8 years, if not longer.
Zinfandel, Michael's Estate Vineyard 2016 Shop Now
90 points - The 2016 Zinfandel Michael's Vineyard comes all from the Adelaida District in Paso Robles and was aged 15 months in 20% new French. Its big, spicy nose of brambly herbs, cedarwood, plums, blood orange, and incense gives way to a charming, rounded, delicious Zinfandel that has good acidity and a clean finish. Drink it over the coming 4-5 years.
Anna‘s Red Signature, Anna‘s Estate Vineyard 2016 Shop Now
90 points - The 2016 Anna's Red Signature Anna's Estate Vineyard offers a toasty, spicy nose as well as medium to full-bodied richness, a charming, rounded, supple texture and a good finish. It lacks the layers and complexity of the top wines here but is still a terrific bottle of wine. The blend is 36% Syrah, 36% Grenache, and the balance Mourvèdre.
Pinot Noir, HMR Estate Vineyard 2016 Shop Now
90 points - Tasted out of bottle, the 2016 Pinot Noir HMR Vineyard offers classic notes of sour cherries, underbrush, and forest floor notes, with plenty of spice and an olive note developing with time in the glass. It has a subtle Burgundian vibe and is a seriously good Pinot Noir that will keep for 4-5 years, probably longer.
Pinot Noir, HMR Estate Vineyard 2017 (2019 Release)
91-93 points - In the running for the best Pinot Noir to come from Paso Robles, the 2017 Pinot Noir HMR has a medium ruby color as well as pretty, elegant notes of red and black fruits, dried earth, and subtle herbal notes. It’s pure, elegant, nicely balanced, and medium-bodied and has beautiful Pinot Noir charm.
Chardonnay, HMR Estate Vineyard 2017 (2019 Release)
91 points - The lightly colored 2017 Chardonnay HMR Vineyard 2017 is another impressive wine from winemaker Jeremy Weintraub. Made from 100% Chardonnay aged 9 months in 30% new French oak, this medium-bodied, rich yet still lively effort offers classic notes of orchard fruits, white flowers, citrus blossom, and some limestone-induced saltiness. I love its overall balance and it should drink nicely for at least 3-4 years.
Syrah Signature, Viking Estate Vineyard 2016 (2020 Release)
94 points - Notes of cassis, toasty oak, and cured meats all emerge from the 2016 Syrah Signature Viking Estate Vineyard. Made from 100% Syrah aged 18 months in new French oak, it has gorgeous purity of fruit, a deep, rich, layered textured, and a great finish. It’s a quintessential Paso Robles Syrah that will keep for at least 7-8 years.
Cabernet Sauvignon Signature, Viking Estate Vineyard 2017 (2019 Release)
92-94 points - The deep, inky-colored 2017 Cabernet Viking Vineyard Signature appears to be a beautiful Cabernet from a difficult vintage for the variety. This medium to full-bodied effort offers up lots of blueberry and smoked black fruits, notes of leafy herbs, bay leaf, and graphite, sweet tannins, and a balanced, harmonious style. It’s going to keep for a decade or more.
Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Signature, Estate Vineyards 2016 (2019 Release)
93 points - Also deeply colored, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Signature Viking Estate Vineyard is an even split of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah that spent 20 months in 75% new French oak. Notes of cedarwood, smoked herbs, graphite, and ample dark fruits give way to a full-bodied red that has sweet tannins, a lush, dense texture, and a great finish. Drink it over the coming decade.
Cabernet Franc Signature, Viking Estate Vineyard 2016 (2019 Release)
92 points - Boasting a big, classic Cabernet Franc nose of leafy herbs, tobacco, spring flowers, and damp earth, the 2016 Cabernet Franc Signature Viking Estate Vineyard is medium to full-bodied, silky and elegant on the palate, with no hard edges. It certainly has an herbal edge but is elegant, silky, and layered. This wine spent 20 months in 75% new French oak and will be better with short-term cellaring.
Mourvedre Signature, Anna‘s Estate Vineyard 2016 (2020 Release)
92 points - The 2016 Mourvèdre Signature Anna's Estate Vineyard (85% Mourvèdre and 15% Syrah aged in 40% new French oak) is slightly restrained aromatically, yet has a beautifully rich, layered, deep profile on the palate. Notes of smoked meats, blackberries, currants, and spice all emerge from this ripe yet balanced effort that will keep for 7-8 years, if not longer.
Twenty Three Twenty Signature, Estate VIneyards 2015 (2019 Release)
94 points - The 2015 Twenty Three Twenty Signature checks in as a blend of 35% Syrah, 22% Petite Sirah, 20% each of Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the balance Viognier. Deep ruby/purple-colored, with a big, smoky nose of black fruits, ground herbs, chocolate, and tobacco, it's deep, beautifully full-bodied, powerful and layered, yet never seems heavy or cumbersome in the least. It's a rocking wine.
Twenty Three Twenty Signature, Estate VIneyards 2016 (2020 Release)
92 points - The 2016 Twenty Three Twenty Signature is a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel that spent 20 months in 50% new French oak. Incense, spiced plums, blackberries, and leafy herb notes all emerge from this juicy, rounded, voluptuous effort that has an almost Zinfandel-like charm. It’s drinking great today yet should last for 5-7 years, if not longer.