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Wine Review: Paso Robles district impresses

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There are times when only the finest will do, and I was recently able to sample some wines from the Paso Robles district that fit that description.

It is a known fact that in grape-growing, location means everything. The areas in and around Paso Robles, California, are gaining fame as a possible rival to the better-known wine-producing California counties of Napa and Sonoma.

Location, however, is not the only feature of Paso Robles wines. Much of the fruit that is produced there is organically grown. By using top starting material, there is little wonder that their wines can successfully compete with the best from anywhere in the world.

Halter Ranch 2020 Paso Robles Ancestor ($85)
It is the cabernet sauvignon on which most wineries stake their reputation. This wine more than supports the idea that Halter Ranch makes some impressive cabernet sauvignon wines. This wine displays a vivid black cherry, berry and spice aroma, backed by notes of mocha and tobacco in the aroma. The fruit carries over to the flavor where it mingles with a generous amount of oak. The finish of this wine is long, fruity and smooth. This is an excellent wine that is definitely deserving of being the style that this winery hangs its hat on.

Halter Ranch 2019 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($65)
A blend of 75% cabernet sauvignon, 20% malbec and 5% petit verdot, this is a well-aged, full-flavored wine with everything one seeks in a fine cab. This wine displays a bright ruby color, with intense dark cherry, cedar, vanilla and cinnamon aromas. The flavor features raspberry, blueberry, cherry and a hint of cocoa, which are also obvious in the finish. I was amazed by how much this wine tastes like the megabuck Bordeaux chateau wines.

Halter Ranch 2022 Paso Robles Grenache Blanc ($45)
Grenache blanc is usually not presented as a single variety. This wine left me scratching my head and wondering, “Why not?” Aged for 10 months in French oak, this is a blend of 92% grenache blanc, 5% picpoul blanc and 2% viognier. The wine offers the aromas of white flowers, melon and a suggestion of guava. The flavor is alive with pear, apple and citrus, as well as a hint of the minerality that also appears in all of the Harder Ranch wines. If you are a fan of white wines, this is one not to miss.

Daou Discovery Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($30)
Another Paso Robles wine producer is the Daou Vineyards. The Daou Discovery cabernet sauvignon holds nothing back and displays all of the flavors and aromas that have made the variety so popular. The aroma displays copious amounts of blackberry, cassis, leather and herbs, with layers of plum, cherry and chocolate pleasantly lying in the background. The finish reflects black fruits, cherry and boysenberry, as well as the typical mystery that surrounds a cabernet sauvignon. I believe this is a wine that deserves your interest.

Daou 2019 Paso Robles Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($50)
By no means a lesser wine, this is the same theme with a slightly different melody. The heat wave, fires and smoke that bedeviled California in 2019 has had absolutely no effect on this vintage. Good weather and clear skies during the later stages of the growing period allowed plenty of time for the grapes to fully ripen and mature. What resulted was a well-balanced wine blessed with the aromas of black currants, sweet cherries and a hint of chocolate. There are no harsh edges on this wine, and it needs no further aging. I also believe this wine is equal to any of the other cabs in the same price category from anywhere in the world.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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