Ok, so it was really the 3rd of July yesterday, but it was still a 4th of July cookout, complete with lots of friends and their kids, burgers and dogs on the grill, deviled eggs, potato salad, and a lemon cake decorated like an American flag. Sure, there were a few gourmet touches (it was French potato salad, we made gazpacho, and friends brought a delicious peach and local berry cobbler) and since most of the friends work in the wine community in Paso Robles great wines arrived with the guests.
For our part, I pulled three of our 2010's to try with the cookout. It's not that easy to pair wines with the classic American cookout; beer is a more traditional pairing, and we finished plenty of those. But in picking wines, it's important to go with wines with freshness, bright fruit, and no oak. Pick things that can be drunk on their own, or with food. Rosés are usually great bets, as are aromatic whites and reds that can take a bit of a chill. I pulled one of each, including two wines that were bottled very recently and haven't yet been released. All three showed great, and I thought I'd share some brief notes.
- 2010 Rosé (59% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 11% Counoise): We always bottle our Rosé early in the year so it's ready to go in the spring, which makes this wine the only one that's been released for a while. Still, it's prime rosé season, and with temperatures over 100 yesterday in Paso Robles this bottle was the first to be finished. 2010 was a vintage with naturally bright acids and fresh flavors, and we backed off slightly on the extraction to showcase the fruit. Nevertheless, it's a big rosé, with intense sour cherry and plum fruit, a spiciness that has reminded me of red chili pepper jelly, and a lingering minerality. It went particularly well with the gazpacho.
- 2010 Cotes de Tablas Blanc (54% Viognier, 30% Grenache Blanc, 8% Marsanne, 8% Roussanne): I think that this wine will be a major beneficiary of the Patelin de Tablas Blanc that we debuted in 2010. Less intense lots that in previous years would have gone into the Cotes Blanc were moved into the Patelin Blanc, and the resulting wine is, to my tastes, clearly the best Cotes Blanc we've ever made. It has concentrated stone fruit on the nose and front palate, but not really sweet... more pithy, like peach pit. Then you get a creaminess to the texture that we've never achieved in the Cotes Blanc before, more like the texture of the Esprit Blanc. And then, just when the wine threatens to get too luscious, a core of minerality, intensely saline, kicks in and re-establishes order. Just a beautiful wine, and one that I think is going to wow a lot of people as it gets into circulation in the next month or so.
- 2010 Patelin de Tablas (39% Syrah, 36% Grenache, 22% Mourvedre, 3% Counoise): Just bottled two weeks ago, and still a couple of months from its release, I pulled a bottle to check in. It's still a little tight, but is this ever going to impress when it's released in September. Darkly Syrah on the nose, with chalky minerality and black fruit. Then lighter on its feet in the mouth than the nose would suggest, with blackberry and blueberry, nice acids keeping everything fresh, and a long, darkly fruity finish. Absolutely no oak. Terrific with the burgers and susprisingly good on its own. Lots of people had this in their glasses at the end of the evening.
A few final thoughts on 2010 as a vintage. This was, as anyone who followed the blog last year, a challenging vintage. The summer was downright cold, harvest started three weeks late, and we were less than half complete by October 15th. The weather finally turned around in late October, and beautiful conditions over the next month allowed us to complete harvest, though our last lot didn't come in until November 19th. The wines have turned out great, with darkly serious reds and concentrated yet intensely mineral whites. It's not a fruity, obvious vintage, but the wines, even the less-expensive wines like the Cotes Blanc and Patelin, strike me as candidates for some aging and worthy of pairing with serious meals.
It will be a pleasure to start to share these 2010's with our fans over the coming months.