Forget the academy. The Oscars might be a big deal for actors and actresses, but wineries have their own benchmarks for excellence. It comes in the form of stellar reviews, gold medals and—of course—points. You’ve seen the glowing accolades emblazoned on plenty of tasting lists, right? 90 points from Wine Enthusiast! 94 points from Wine Spectator! Ever wonder how these wines are scored? Well, read on to discover just how—and why—top marks matter. Yes, we like these. We really, really like these.
1. What makes a Winning Wine?
Well, it should be good, right? But how do critics quantify yum-factor? For better or worse, the 100-point wine rating system has become the benchmark of quality in the wine industry. The system rates many aspects of wine quite well, including production quality, but, of course, the best barometer of what you like is…well… your opinion. Still, points can be incredibly useful, especially when you’re new to a winery or seeking out the crème de la crème for a special event. Here’s a good rule of thumb: 90-94 wines are considered “superior” to “exceptional.” 95-100 wines are fantastic benchmark examples or considered “classic.” You really can’t go wrong with anything above 80. When you dip from 70-50, beware. You may get into some less-than-appealing flavors. That said, awards, gold medals, and praise also factor into the prestige of a particular bottle. Read those reviews and do your research; like the making of a great film, there simply are no shortcuts when it comes to crafting great wine.
2. Rocking It
And the winner is (that JUST sold-out): Rendarrio 2014 “The Rocker” Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles 93 points; The Tasting Panel
“I am very lucky to source 100% of the vineyard fruit from Clare Ranch Vineyard located in the sought-after Templeton Gap area of Paso Robles. This Cabernet is a very stylish effort that combines richness and density with finesse and refinement. As a youngster, this is appropriately powerful and by black cherry, licorice, currant, and loamy, gravely earth.”
– Rendarrio Winemaker Ryan Render
3. Going for the Gold
And the winner is: Michael Gill Cellars
“I have received 17 Best of Class awards since I started entering wine competitions in mid-2013. All of my wines have won gold medals and I just learned from a wine judge that only two wineries in the state can make that claim. We work to keep our quality high.”
Michael Gill, Winemaker
Michael Gill Cellars announced a number of wine awards for 2017, including Best of Varietal and Best of Class for both their 2016 vermentino and 2016 viognier. These same wines were also awarded gold medals along with the best of varietal and class at the Jerry Mead’s New World International Wine Competition (NWICW) held in late February in Ontario, CA. Along with the awards from the NWICW, Michael Gill Cellars 2014 syrah was awarded a gold at the 2017 Berlin International Wine Competition (BIWC) and five golds and one double gold for 2016 vermentino at the 2017 Florida State Fair Wine and Grape Grower’s Competition. The BIWC was held in March in Berlin, Germany. The Florida State Fair competition was also held earlier this year. Michael Gill Cellars was also named the “Best Paso Robles Winery” at the Berlin competition.
Buy these award winning Michael Gill Cellars wines by calling (805) 239-1668
Mapping and directions to Michael Gill Cellars
4. Taking the Ox by the Horns
And the winner is: Seven Oxen 2014 Grenache 93 points; Wine Enthusiast
“This wine will continue to develop in the bottle, and will reach its full expression within a few years. Decant it to drink now, or lay it down for the next 5 to 8 years. Pairs well with zesty pizza and pasta, or with a dark chocolate dessert.”
–Bastien Leduc, Vineyard Manager and Winemaker
Seven Oxen’s 2014 Grenache contains 100% of the varietal. This vintage of Grenache is vastly different from the 2013 vintage and reflects a hotter, dryer year in Paso Robles. Strong, concentrated red fruit and cherry brandy flavors are balanced with spicy notes of black pepper and rounded out with a nice, bright acidity. The fruit was harvested from the vineyard’s southernmost slope and aged 12 months in one-year old and neutral French oak.
2014 Cassidy Rhone Blend; 90 Points, Wine Enthusiast
2014 Mourvedre; 90 Points, Wine Enthusiast
Mapping and directions to Seven Oxen that is opening April 29 in their new location!
5. Top of the Class
“This is our favorite Cab yet. It’s unbelievable round mouth feel, is chewy,fruit forward, leggy and lovely. A sophisticated Cab, very limited production; it will sell out quickly.”
-Hoyt Family Vineyard Team
6. Double the Pleasure
And the winner is: Oso Libre MV Carnal Red Rhone Blend 96 points; Double Gold Medal Winner
“This Rhone blend comprised of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre is an Oso Libre staple. The fruit for this wine were all picked and vineyard sorted on very cold mornings in November. Each of the musts were crushed and cold soaked for two days. Open top fermentation was managed with punchdown and pump-over processes twice daily. The must was kept cool for a long fermentation preserving fruit notes. The wine was aged for 20 months in 20% new French oak, and 70% neutral French oak. The wines were aged separately and blended just before bottling.”
– Jeff Freeland, Winemaker
Editor’s Choice NV Rojo del Patron; 94 points
Cellar Selection 2011 Querida Cabernet Sauvignon; 93 points
Learn about these Oso Libre wines and purchase here
Mapping and directions to Oso Libre
This blog was written by Hayley Thomas Cain, food and wine writer for SLO New Times and PasoRoblesWineries.net. You can reach her at [email protected] or follow her on instagram @flavorslo.
If you’re looking for a place to spend the night in Paso Robles, checkout:
The Adelaide Inn is an iconic, locally owned hotel known for its friendly staff and lush landscaping. With spacious rooms and a convenient location close to highway 101 and the event center – home of the California Mid-State Fair – this hotel is a great choice for most travelers.
Majestically set among vineyards, olive groves and fruit baring orchards, the 20-acre Allegretto Vineyard Resort is a world unto itself, offering breathtaking settings that inspire and bring joy to all who choose this memorable wine country haven. Featuring 171 rooms and suites, on-site spa, grand ballroom, wine tasting room, and inspired culinary creations at Cello, the resort’s full service restaurant.
La Bellasera Hotel & Suites is an elegant boutique hotel nestled in the heart of Central Coast Wine Country. Influenced by Mediterranean and Italian architecture, the luxurious accommodations reflect the aged sophistication of the Central Coast region and the relaxed nature of the California countryside.
Hampton Inn & Suites Paso Robles is nestled in the Central Coast wine region, home to over 200 wineries, beautiful beaches, mountains and diverse attractions. Relax and revive in a comfortable guest room with all you need for a successful stay. You can count on Hampton to deliver value, consistency and service with a smile. We love having you here®
Experience the pristine countryside of Paso Robles Wine Country at Lekai Ranch. Lounge on the porch of your private suite and lose yourself in the tranquility and stunning views of the vineyards and oak studded hills beyond. This vacation rental is located just minutes from some of the most distinguished wineries and a premier olive oil estate, and only 15 minutes from downtown Paso Robles’ restaurants, wineries and shopping.
Enjoy the elegance, style and natural beauty of California’s Central Coast at the JUST Inn®. Surrounded by vineyards, our JUST Inn Suites offer luxurious appointments like fireplaces, Tempur-Pedic®mattresses, Frette linens, hydro-spa tubs, and range in size from 600–1,200 square feet. An overnight stay includes breakfast and a tour of the winery and caves.
Paso Robles Vacation Rentals, also known as PasoStay.com assists guests in creating memories and wonderful experiences by providing quality privately owned vacation home rentals in Paso Robles Wine Country. With over 90 vacation homes to choose from, small enough for a couple’s romantic getaway to large homes amongst local vineyards and olive orchards, PasoStay.com has the perfect option for you. Feel free to call 805-423-9174 to talk with a local expert or book online at PasoStay.com.