As many of you know, I’m in the process of taking the California Wine Appellation Specialist course with the San Francisco Wine School, and I’m having a wonderful time doing it!

Some of the wines I’ve posted during the last few weeks have either been assignments or wines that I was tasting on my own and decided to write about them here. This week’s wine is one that’s “homework” so I just had to share!

This wine is a 2010 Hug Cellars Starr Ranch Vineyard Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a wine made entirely of Paso Robles grapes sourced from a vineyard that’s on the west side of Paso, and under the alchemy of Augie Hug, has turned into a rockin’ wine.

This week’s assignment is the “center” of the Central Coast which is the San Luis Obispo AVA along with its sub-AVAs with Paso Robles in the starring role. I already gave my opinion about Paso Robles’ petition to have eleven sub-AVAs approved in its area, so I won’t go into that. (Hint: it’s a good thing!)

Sorry to say that the Cabernet has sold out. There were only 123 cases made, and the wine is amazing. This is my only bottle. Dammit.

It’s a dark, red-tinged purple with the age ring just emerging. It’s like an abyss in depth; with a normal pour in regular room light, you cannot see the stem if the glass is upright. You cannot read text through the bowl when it’s tilted either! It is almost as deep and dark as a good Petit Sirah, but maybe not quite as inky.

This wine is a bruiser! At 16.1% alcohol, it’s definitely no shrinking violet, but it had one thing that really surprised me despite the fruit. It has blackberries, cassis, raspberries, some vegetal (in a good way!), some white pepper, maduro cigar, cigar box, and the slightest touch of cedar. I guess that’s the cigar box! It is very concentrated in look and on the palate, which reflects the nose.

The biggest surprise is the racy acidity, easily comparable to any high-acid European white. The tannins are grippy and dissolve into a sweet-fruit finish that eventually fades into just a bit of chalkiness. Long, long finish, by the way. Very nice.

My bad habit is waiting at least two – sometimes more – months after receipt before I drink a wine. I believe in the “Bottle Shock” concept, so I make sure my babies rest first. I’ve rarely run into a wine that hasn’t tasted the way I expected it to taste once it’s out of the winery. That’s really important in my book. Unfortunately, that means that sometimes I miss on stocking up on wines that once opened, may not be replaceable.  Like this one. Oh well.

Well, the spring releases are coming up so you might want to keep an eye on the Hug Cellars site for anything new. I certainly am!




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