Some wine descriptors have a way of making us giggle, at least internally: “Worn leather,” “decomposed earth,” and “forest floor” are big ones that always make me crack a playful smile. Not to say that these terms are BS, because they’re most certainly valid ways to describe wine. But what can I say? It’s just funny to think about stopping my hike to lick the dirt—which is exactly what I imagine any time someone utters the latter. Then, there’s “minerality,” which is far more mysterious and hard to put your finger on than the earthy scent of fallen leaves and damp oak trees. Some say minerality tastes and smells of crushed river stones, wet granite, or sun-baked sand. Some swear that a particular vineyard creates a certain rocky minerality in a wine. Others think the whole idea of minerality is a bunch of bunk. Science tells us that this beguiling wine characteristic does not, as you might think, come from any real life mineral compounds found within the soil, but is—like most wine characteristics—the result of an artful culmination of factors that cannot be “planned.” The short answer: We may not know exactly how or why that wine really shines with refreshing minerality we seek, but we can sure as heck enjoy it!
Kiamie 2015 White Kuvee
What: A Viognier and Grenache Blanc blend sourced from grapes grown in the Adelaida District
Why: Kiamie Wine Cellars 2015 White Kuvee is bright and floral in character with undertones of minerality unique to the vineyard. This vintage offers aromas that envelope the glass with real density and weight with a crisp, seemingly faux dry finish. The pungent hints of peach schnapps, tarragon and spiced applesauce characteristic of Grenache Blanc merely round out and compliment Viognier.
Pair with: Vietnamese spring rolls with mango honey shrimp and Thai basil wrapped in rice vermicelli served with a garlic peanut dipping sauce.
Mapping and Directions to Kiamie Wine Cellars: speedfind.com/KiamieWines
Hoyt Vineyards 2013 Chardonnay
What: A 100 percent Chardonnay sourced from the Santa Lucia Hills AVA
Why: This “drink all day chardonnay” from Hoyt Family Vineyards is light, crisp, and bright with the lush butter and oak you crave. A low acid profile and fresh minerality also allow fruity pear and citrus notes to shine through.
Pair with: Gorgonzola-topped salad with brandy-soaked pears and toasted baguette.
Mapping and Directions to Hoyt Family Vineyards Tasting Room at the Rabbit Hole, downtown Paso Robles: speedfind.com/HoytFamilyRabbitHole
Mapping and Directions to Hoyt Family Vineyards, Templeton (by appt. only): speedfind.com/HoytFamilyVineyards
Cass Winery 2014 Rockin’ One Blanc
What: A blend of Roussanne, Viognier, and Marsanne crafted from the Cass Estate Vineyard in Southeast Paso Robles.
Why: Cass Vineyard & Winery’s 2014 Rockin’ One Blanc mirrors of gold reflect hints of Asian pear preserves, melon meringue, candied quince and hawthorn blossom. Essence of freshly whipped butter cream, Meyer lemon custard and white peach balance upon a full yet delicate palate. Soft acidity and stony minerality weave flavors of crushed chamomile, baking spice and toasted cashews that herald a lingering, layered finish kissed by honey tea.
Pair with: Fresh pasta with lemon cream sauce topped with artichoke, lemon zest, and capers; shortbread cookies smeared with sweet-tangy quince paste.
Mapping and Directions to Cass Vineyard & Winery: speedfind.com/CassWinery
Hearst Ranch Winery 2015 Rhone Blend
What: A blend of Grenache, Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne, and Picpoul Blanc from Paso Robles vineyards.
Why: The driving force behind the 2015 bottling of Hearst Ranch Winery’s Three Sisters White is an elegant minerality, front and center. Grenache Blanc is put in the driver’s seat for this vintage to highlight the strengths of this beautiful varietal. The Viognier component was dialed back to 20% but still makes its presence known with floral aromatics. The 13% Roussanne adds richness to the mid-palate while the 10% Picpoul Blanc punctuates the acid profile. The resulting cuvee is one of composed restraint that allows all of the components to shine without creating any shadows.
Pair with: Seared Ahi tacos topped with sweet-spicy cabbage slaw and crumbly Mexican queso fresco.
Mapping and Directions to Hearst Ranch Winery Jack Ranch Café Tasting Room, Cholame: speedfind.com/HearstRanch
Mapping and Directions to Hearst Ranch Winery Sebastion Café, San Simeon: speedfind.com/HearstRanchWinery
Jada 2016 1149 Rosé
What: A 100 percent Mourvedre crafted from the Jada Estate Vineyard in Westside Paso Robles.
Why: With fresh watermelon juice, bubble-gum, flower-scented lotion, potpourri, green apple, and pine needles, Jada Vineyard’s 2016 1149 Rosé is as playful and flirtatious, to be sure. The palate shows a combination of Maraschino cherry, crushed rocks (there’s your minerality), salted taffy, and rose water. A concrete fermentation helps integrate and balance the alcohol and acid; the few months in 500L barrels added a subtle, but nuanced, baked pretzel note on the finish.
Pair with: A noshable spread of fine salami, prosciutto, olives, and frozen grapes; watermelon and arugula salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.
Mapping and Directions to Jada Vineyards: speedfind.com/JadaVineyard
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.
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.