Paso Robles Wine From Two Sides of the Same Coin

Posted on: October 4th, 2018 by

Attended not just a class but a Masterclass no less about Paso Robles wine. It’s a region I visited a couple years ago and had a great time soaking in its low-key charms and surprising wines. This learning session was helmed by Master Sommelier Alexander LaPratt with able assists from Jason Haas (master of Google maps demos zooming from outer space to the Templeton Gap) of Tablas Creek Vineyard, Brian Terrizzi of Giornata, and Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins from Ancient Peaks Winery.

A lovely view of Paso Robles wine country.

Lovely vineyard view / Photo Courtesy Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance

I’m most familiar with Tablas Creek as it is one of the wineries I’ve visited (GO!) and my mom happens to be an enthusiastic member of their wine club (JOIN!).

But Giornata and Ancient Peaks Winery were new to me. I tried a duo of Giornata’s wines first. It’s a really interesting winery that focuses on Italian grape varieties. Which perhaps seems a little nuts, or bold at a minimum, but when you taste the wines you’ll see why.

Gioranta Fiano 2017 ($30)

This white wine had a delightful almond nuttiness and a little bit of creamy texture. It totally reminded me of Fiano from Italy’s Campania region. This is a big compliment. (80% Fiano, 20% Trebbiano, and 7% Falanghina BTW.)

This Giornata Nebbiolo is a very fine wine indeed.Gioranta Nebbiolo 2015 ($45)

Ok, if the Fiano reminded me of something from Campania, that’s kind of a big deal. But surely a Paso Robles Nebbiolo will not transport me to Piedmont. HA! As if. Well….

About this wine, LaPratt remarked something along the lines of if you poured it blind and then told a wine wonk it was a Paso Robles wine, they’d want to see the bottle. I’ll take that further and say, they’d want to see an UNOPENED bottle to make sure there were no shenanigans. Very Piedmont-y stuff!

The wine was a bit translucent and when you have a bit of a see-through red, the natural instinct is thinking it’s going to be a light-0n-its-feet type of wine.

BUT NO! Though a very pretty wine, it had some powerful tannins. Which leads me to believe it needs to chill for a few years in your dang cellar. Or serve with a burger/steak. Or perhaps a burger appetizer and a steak entree. (WHAT?)

Paso Robles Wine from the Obscure to the Familiar

Ok, you know I like lesser-known grapes¬†and people growing atypical stuff in their neck of the woods. But, damnit, I’m going to talk about Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. I was really impressed with two wines from Ancient Peaks Winery, which would be smokin’ picks for a by-the-glass selection.

Ancient Peaks Winery Merlot 2016 ($20)

Ancient Peaks Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($22)

Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon

Facebook / Ancient Peaks

Regarding the Merlot, if anyone still thinks this grape is somehow demure or usually “softer” than Cab the Ancient Peaks Winery bottling makes mincemeat of those sentiments. The wine had these cool camphor-y notes I liked. Serve it to any Cabernet fanatic and they’d be a convert. The APW Cab screams “Cali Cab” yet also tastes like Cabernet, with some savory notes making it very interesting. Your Cab nuts would go wild for the muscle of this wine.

So why do I say Giornata and Ancient Peaks Winery are two sides of the same coin? Based on the duo of wines I’ve discussed from each, they seem world’s apart. Of course the wineries share a home in Paso (duh). But furthermore, Ancient Peaks is growing Nebbiolo and Sangiovese for Giornata. Cool, huh? BTW, Ancient Peaks is located in the Santa Margarita Ranch sub-AVA of Paso Robles and APW’s Margarita Vinyeard is the only one in the AVA.


Even if wineries are making different wines from different grapes in different styles, that doesn’t mean they don’t get along or belong together. THE END.

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