Strapping aromas of blackberry and black cherry jam stand tall above a bouquet of mocha, tobacco, cedar, black tea, dried brush and baking spice. Dusty tannins and fresh acidity support the palate of this medium-to-full bodied wine in conjunction with a silky texture and plush mouthfeel. The flavors are reminiscent of ripe plum and cherry cough syrup, a core of toasted oak and bacon, and a finish of persistent dark fruit, vanilla and wild mushroom. Age two to three years.
Fruit was sourced from both sides of the Paso Robles AVA. Twenty miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, Paso Robles experiences warm, dry summers with occasional heat spikes. A break in the coastal range called the “Templeton Gap” allows a marine layer to move inland each afternoon, providing the cool evenings and nights that help develop well-balanced grape acidity.
Most of the fruit was grown at Solana Vineyards, a renowned property near the town of San Miguel in the northeast quadrant of the appellation. The dark well-drained soils consist of decomposed sandstone with significant concentrations of limestone that promote optimum vine balance. Fifteen acres of petite sirah were planted above the fog line at 700–1,000 feet of elevation in 2000–01. Trained in the vertical shoot position, the vines produce small berries with concentrated flavors and mature tannins.
A small fraction of grapes was harvested at Kiler Grove Winegrowers in southwest Paso Robles. With warm-to-hot sunny days, the site is exposed to cool nights from 1,200-foot elevations and stiff afternoon winds resulting from its close proximity to the “Templeton Gap”. The signature pale calcareous soils of Westside Paso provide excellent drainage and induce beneficial vine stress that generates natural vigor control and low crop yields, enabling vines to deliver true varietal character in the finished wines.
Vintage 2010 produced an average size crop with full flavors and ideal acidity, but the cool year had winemakers wondering if grapes would ever ripen. Heavy rain in January and February was followed by a cold, wet March that delayed budbreak, bloom and berry set. April and May were drier, but the ripening curve remained flat under cool conditions. June, July and August saw persistent morning fog burning off to warmer afternoons. The coolness finally broke with a heat spike in late August followed by two more in September. Many vineyards were picked after the second of three storms in October with winemakers rejoicing the quality of a delayed harvest that was nearly “washed away”.