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This is just ONE part of the multi-day Cab Collective event that I attended in Paso Robles two weeks ago.  While Beacon readers can fill their glass with wine-paired meals today, Eve’s Wine 101 website readers are filling their glass with three tastings: barrel, current and reserves.  (Feel free to read both articles as that’s what I’m hoping for!)  The final installment, Vintner’s Panel Discussion, will appear on Eve’s Wine 101 website on 5/16.

Dinner at Bistro Laurent with Jeremy Weintraub and Paul Sowerby of ADELAIDA Cellars

There were winery-hosted dinners all across the Paso Robles AVA on the first night of the Cab Collective.  Depending on personal tastes, and availability, writers and sponsors could rsvp for their heart’s desire.  For me, I wanted to spend more time with Adelaida.  What I failed to realize, or should say was oh-so-freaking surprised with, was that our hosts decided to pull several of their library wines for us to see how well Paso Cabs were aging.

The sommelier at Bistro Laurent, Ian Adamo, who is currently working towards his Master of Wine certification, offered to pair at least a dozen current vintages and the library wines, and winemaker Jeremy Weintraub was fine with the work being done for them.

Joining us were a couple of sponsors, a Bakersfield retail store owner, the 77 year-old co- writer of Wine for Dummies, Ed McCarthy, and two writers from the Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine, Charles Olken and Stephen Eliot.

Beginning with a 2013 Version Rose paired with an Amuse Bouche of Seafood Bruschetta, we worked our way through a 2012 Picpoul Blanc and a Viognier that everyone appreciated with the Cold Lobster and Citrus Salad, 2004 and 2010 Cabs with the Fish in Lentil Soup, and then we tried the a 2010 Cab Franc, along with 1988, 1985 and 1982 Cabs with Roasted Duck (not local), potato mash, toasted onion straws, with a blueberry and wine reduction, and finally, assorted cheeses.

Along with these stellar wines, all showing different degrees of fruit, spice and tannins, we were also anxious to try a 1975 HMR Cabernet Sauvignon.  The HMR Estate Vineyard, which now belongs to Adelaida, includes a block of Pinot Noir planted in the 1960's.  Sowerby believed that it might even be the oldest Pinot Noir planted in the central coast and was diligently doing the research to prove it.  Our hosts had brought the new 2012 Pinot that night as well, I’d have to say it was very well received!

Some of the dishes, such as the Lobster Salad paired with the Viognier or Picpoul Blanc, were all that we wanted, but most of the time the guests had up to four or more glasses with an ounce or so of wine, so "revisiting" any at any time with any dish was very cool.  The dishes were remarkable, and though I had only been to Bistro Laurent for lunch a couple of times I made a mental note to return for dinner during a future trip.

In conclusion, looking over the photos of the wines what stood out was the idea of cellaring some of these Paso Cabs.  While the 1988 was the table's favorite, the 1975 drew more attention:

It was Charles Olken that got me into an interesting discussion about aged Paso Cabs.  He asked me how many, if any, 40-year old wines had I ever had, from Paso or not – and I couldn't think of any!  So then Charles highly recommended that we hold a few of our cellar wines a little longer to see how they fare.  After having the '75, and seeing what a conversation piece it was, I will definitely give his idea a shot.

Robert’s Restaurant with Mike Sinor of Ancient Peaks

This lunch was almost as tough as the dinner to try to remember all that was discussed later.  I finally had to pull out a small note pad and make room for it at the table to make sure I didn't miss much.  This is what I noted:

  • Of the everyday $15 to $17 Merlot and Cab made by Ancient Peaks, both were fresh and highly approachable. I would have easily paid more.
  • Ancient Peaks grows a lot of grapes that they sell to others, they themselves prefer to perfect five.
  • They blind taste their own wines.
  • Most are 13.5% alcohol except for Renegade and Oyster Bridge Cuvée.
  • In tasting a '11 Renegade of Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec I got notes of tobacco, black currant, plum, bark and green peppercorns.
  • In regards to his winemaking practice, Sinor says, "I just do it."
  • Sinor has made 24 vintages.
  • As far as his approach Sinor said, "I care about making wine that tastes good when I'm not there."
  • The wines can be found in 24 states, including Canada.
  • Finally, I wanted to return to Robert's Restaurant again, the menu choices and the staff attentiveness was top notch.

BBQ at JUSTIN Vineyards

OMG - local pigs were brought in, smoked, and served along some great sides that included a jalapeno and cheese cornbread that people couldn’t resist sneaking slices of before dinner was served, fresh cole slaw, flavorful baked beans…prepared once again by Chef Will Torres, Chef Chris New and the awesome kitchen staff from the restaurant at Justin.

All of the winemakers were there, with their reserve wines from the tasting, but it sure looked odd to see them lined up on all three sides of the tasting bar at Justin!  Even the gentleman working the bar said it was difficult as people quizzed him about which to try, and he had no idea as they weren't only Justin’s wines.  

Though the winemakers didn't meander the crowd with their bottles, they themselves did.  Michael Mooney of Chateau Margene, Ted Plemons of Cass Winery and Doug Hauck of HammerSky all stopped at our table, all acting as ambassadors of the Cab Collective.  It was the perfect end to a saturated two days of Paso Cab immersion, which many referred to as Cab Camp.  I'm already looking forward to the 2015 education.

Facebook album link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202851177387902.1073741866.1455706632&type=1&l=c56410ce87

Eve’s Wine 101 Event Picks: California Wine & Jazz Fest 5/18, Join ME at the Pulchella tasting and lesson 5/18, LA Wine Fest is 5/31 and 6/1, Ojai Wine Fest 6/8, Wine in the Pines 6/14. Save the dates: Vine 2 Wine CLASSIC 8/16 and A WiSHful Event in the Vineyard Harvest Fest 9/6.

Eve Bushman is a local writer that specializes in writing about wine. You can find great articles by Eve on her blog at http://www.evewine101.com or email her at Eve@evewine101.com. Her commentaries represent her own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization she may affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon. You can follow Eve’s Wine 101 on Facebook and Twitter!