Every now and then, you just have to sit with friends and drink some wine. Because we can’t help ourselves, we tasted the wine as well.  I was able to share three stunners from my personal collection, and what a joy!

2017 Epoch Rosé

Epoch 2017 Rosé and Phyllo "Pizza."
Epoch 2017 Rosé and Phyllo “Pizza.”

This is one of the two bottles I picked up at Epoch Estate Wines in Paso Robles. There were four of us tasting, and the first comment from everyone was the weight of the Rosé on the palate. While the methods of making this particular Rosé vary from year to year (always sur-lie in stainless with battonage, sometimes concrete, sometimes not), the method always has an effect on the mouthfeel. This wine, although almost Côte du Provence in color (just a tad darker) is weightier, with roses and strawberries dominating the very fragrant nose, and touches of citrus, roses, strawberries, and minerality, with a medium-long, clean finish on the palate. Thumbs up all around!

2017 Desparada “Fragment” Sauvignon Blanc

When my intrepid traveling friends and occasional guest authors, Jarlene and Dick, were in Paso Robles the last time, several wineries told them that they HAD to visit Epoch. Unfortunately, Epoch was closed by the time they finally arrived, and would not open until the next day; they were leaving extra early to get back to Vegas. This winery, Desparada Wines, was recommended to me by Epoch. There ya go.

This is 100% Santa Barbara sourced Sauvignon Blanc. Unfined and unfiltered, this clouded wine does not hint of SB at first glance. On the nose, there are definite Sauvignon Blanc characteristics and an explosion of flowers. There was jasmine, gooseberry, lime, a scent of grassy herbaceousness, and a noticeable absence of “cat pee.” We spent a lot of time just inhaling and analyzing. The scent is fragrant, heady, and worthy of dabbing behind the ears. On the palate, the explosion continues. Beautifully textured, it is supple on the palate, with citrus, lime, fresh herbs, lime peel, and, somehow, fresh flowers. Amazing!

What makes this amazing is the work and imagination that went into its formula (which varies in percentage year to year) of neutral French oak, stainless steel, Acacia wood, and amphorae. When I spoke with Vailia From (the owner/winemaker) she indicated that the very unusual choice of Acacia wood is what contributes to the amazing floral character of the wine.

2001 Villicana Zinfandel

Sometimes you’re afraid to wait any longer. This was the one wine I couldn’t find when I hosted the Villicana Zinfandel vertical a few months ago. Naturally, after everyone had left and the dust had settled, I found the bottle I’d been looking for in the same place I’d placed it ages before. Of course.

I didn’t have high hopes for this wine and was a little apprehensive about sharing it. Dick opened the bottle and the cork kind of crumbled in half. He filtered it into a decanter about 20 minutes before dinner, and wow. I wish I’d taken more photos!

The bottle was covered in sediment residue and the cork was nearly jet black. And then there was the wine.

I needn’t have worried.

The brilliant nose of a Paso Robles Zin was unmistakeable – dark cherries, black plums, spice, smoke, and earth. On the palate, it was rich and dense, with dark fruit, spice, coffee, and (maybe?) rhubarb. Its age had tamed the jamminess, but it was truly, and surprisingly, delicious. Oh! And the alcohol was in full effect.

Tim had brought a gorgeous Cabernet, but I was too full of food and wine to follow up with a photograph and notes, so I just enjoyed drinking it! Delicious!

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