Dotor√© roasts Paso wine… loves the duck

You read it here second!!! Guest blogger Dotor√© touches down in Paso Robles, one of California’s premium and under-appreciated regions. He tastes. He knoshes. He leaves. He reviews a couple wines by name along with some nice places to eat when driving through the area. I don’t think he will be stopping there again. He also shares some of his most private thoughts on how to maintain a healthy marriage. All in all a very strong post!
Mrs. Dotoré and I spent last weekend in to the Central Coast. The trip crystallized my thoughts about the region, in general, and, specifically, the wines grown there.
First, for those expecting specific wine reviews in this missive, there will be few. In fact, let’s get them out of the way early.
2002_sancerre_croix_St._urs_472.jpg2006 Sancerre Terroirs, Domaine Sylvain Bailly (Beaune Imports/Woodland Hills Wine Co., $18): Everything you’d want from a young Sancerre. Lean, floral, balanced. Seamlessly integrated with food. A David Russell recommendation. [ed. David Russell was standing in for Steve Goldun now both are MIA. So it is with the wine biznuss.]
j_rochioli_west_block_1.jpg
2001 Pinot Noir,West Block, Rochioli (Bought from winery directly, approx. $65 at the time). Blueberry, hints of anise, velvet, masculine, went as well with Gail’s steak as my herb-crusted halibut. A great bottle of wine.
Notice nary a Central Coast wine mentioned. Why? Because they aren’t worth mentioning.
[ed. tBoW has been sitting on this post for well over a month as he has instead chosen to rave like a lunatic about Argentina wines. In the meantime tBoW has been scooped by a May 5 LA Times Op Ed piece [click here for your own hard copy] confirming everything Dotoré claims to be true. Both are companions to a January 2008 LA Times article [linked here] in which Adam Tolmach echoes the same theme then reveals he cannot drink his own overblown wines!!]
Drove up to Avila Beach on Friday and stopped in Los Olivos for lunch. Found a great place that is not to be missed–The Sidestreet Cafe. Very ambitious chef who aspires to have his restaurant be the opposite of that fussy little place on the Main Street (you know the one…Miles got drunk there and called his ex). Hearts of Romaine dipped in warm olive oil with balsamic/bleu dressing–sounds awful, but tasted delicious–and an order of sublime Paella split between us. Mrs. D. had a glass of local Sauv Blanc, D. had a local Pinot. Don’t ask what they were, because I can’t remember and it doesn’t matter.
Dinner in Pismo at the Cracked Crab. A bucket of crab, shrimp, lobster, sausage, potatoes (how do you spell that anyways, Dan Quayle?) and corn on the cob is dumped on the table along with implements of mass destruction and you go to town. All was fresh, delicious, and the Sancerre not only tied everything together, but I gladly paid the $10 corkage as opposed to the $30 price for a local $8 white.castle_clouds.jpg
Next day drove to Paso. Visited Edward Sellars tasting room in town and bought the obligatory bottles of Grenach√© Rose to make the missus happy. 15% alcohol. 2% residual sugar. Yecch! (Any man out there that hasn’t bought a stupid bottle of wine for his wife just to avoid the argument hasn’t traveled with his wife to a winery. Just ask our Editor how many bottles of overoaked, overpriced and utterly useless Chard he has bought for his wife over the years.) [ed. shrugs weakly and sighs at the nakedness of this truth] Again, had a great lunch. An absolute must meal is Artisan. whale.35.jpg Wife had shrimp/pasta (how girly!), and I had home-made corned beef, Gruyere, and pickled cabbage on grilled rye (how manly!). No wine…just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
The lovely Kendall (is that a wine name, or what!) at Ed Sellars referred us to L’Aventure to taste wines that she was certain fit my sensibilities. Boy, was she wrong. Talk about overpriced, overextracted, over-alcoholic, undrinkable wines (at least as those of us with U20 taste believe). Most telling statement from the pourer: “Hey. It’s 100 degrees in the day and 50 at night. This is the way the wines are going to be.” Drove up to two other tasting rooms, looked at the lists and left without tasting. Went to the tasting room around the corner from the hotel, tasted only one of eight wines (horrible Pinot Grigio–just what the world needs!), and gave up on Central Coast wines entirely.
Had the Rochioli that night in San Luis Obispo. Restaurant very good, not great. “Something Blue”.
So here’s my point: I maintain that it is IMPOSSIBLE to make world-class wines in the Paso Robles area. Climate just won’t allow it. Surf-Beach-Station.JPGUnlike Oregon, Sonoma, Napa, or even Santa Barbara County, where the differences in expression of the grapes, be they Cab, Pinot, of Chard, are STYLISTIC, there is enough latitude for the winemaker to craft his wine and create his/her vision.
I don’t believe this is true with the current Central Coast wines. If it is impossible to create wines that are not approaching 15% alcohol (or, most often, above), and then have to sell them for $30, $40, $75, who needs them? They will, in my opinion, ALWAYS pale in comparison to their brethren grown in the indigenous soils of France, Italy, or Spain, where they have flourished for centuries. And, by the way, sell for half of what you’d pay for Central Coast wines.
Bottom line…Paso is a nice place to stop for lunch, without wine, on the way to anyplace else that grows wine.
[ed. would it be trite to say touche’ my freng?]
Here is a wine Dotoré would like because it has qualities not found in Paso wines HOWEVER it is more than a shade away from other wines from this region he and I have enjoyed in the past.
BEWARE STEPFORD WINES!! (this ain’t one but forewarned is forearmed).
vietti barbera.jpg2005 Vietti Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne $15: Lush, fruity, much more so than Barberas of recent memory, at least years in a dog’s life and, after all, don’t most wine snobs bear more than a casual resemblance to a lazy pooch? Vietti has always been a kind of forward looking winery from the Piedmont. And Baroli have definitely moved in the direction towards fruit-forward and away from Slovenian oak styles tighter and more monstrous than the Bush White House (in the good Rove years). What happened to the local vin du pays Barberas? Gone with the Dolcettos to a place where people want fruit forward and food friendly. It ain’t Parker but it is kind of close. At $12/bottle I am sure you won’t mind if I help myself to another pour. 13.5%

4 Comments

  1. Wavatar
    Russ says:

    Is this a joke? Not very funny, but impossible to take seriously.

  2. Wavatar
    bacchus says:

    Dear Russ – welcome. Thank you for posting your comment. I am confident the humorous, serious and somewhat strident Dotoré will reply. Let’s guess your statement is directed at the sentiment about Paso not producing useful wines. I love what Tablas Creek is doing. I look for wines from Anglim. I have purchased Saxum mostly out of curiosity. I think the Central Coast has struggled a long time to find the right varietals for the climate and those are Rhone styles. The region is hot. Over-ripe fruit and high alcohol levels are a problem. I think Justin is a marketing success for over-ripe and over-priced wines, an unfortunate path down which L’Aventure treads. Check my other posts on Paso wines then comment once again. Here is one.
    http://www.thebestofwines.com/2007/07/sideways_in_paso_robles.html

  3. Wavatar
    bacchus says:

    [ed. bacchus posting on behalf of Dotore’] Dear Russ: While admittedly slightly hyperbolic, my post was neither intended to be a joke or funny. It is my sincere belief, and one that is shared by many, as evidenced by the referenced articles in the post by the editor, that the whole CONCEPT of wines that is coming out of the Central Coast is fundamentally flawed. In every great wine region of the world, there are two intricately interwoven necessities–an indigenous cuisine and an indigenous grape varietal (or varietals). The sublime pairing of food and wine is a constant in great wine regions, whether Burgundy, Piedmont, or Alsace. This is not an accident. So what, please tell me, other than barbequed ribs slathered with hickory sauce, do you eat with a 15.5% overblown Central Coast Frankenstein wine (you know…a little Syrah, a little Zin, and who knows what else?). And what, exactly is the indigenous varietal in the Central Coast? Even the winemakers can’t decide. I maintain that you CAN’T grow grapes for world-class wine in temperatures that are 100 degrees in the day and 50 at night. The resultant wine is exactly the proof of my contention. Adding insult to injury, the ridiculous price points of these wines compared to what’s superior and readily available from France, Italy, Spain, Germany at your local Whole Foods, make them essentially irrelevant. I say pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

  4. Wavatar
    mouse says:

    Doctore, The Cracked Crab? Was there in ’04. I think they charged by the claw, about $7 each. Ouch! And, Pierre Gaillard, of CoteRotie, found the syrah of Paso delicious. Told me so himself personally at his domaine at Malleval!
    PostScript: Go to Malleval if you want some nice frog legs, but remember, they’re not boneless. Man, that first bite hurt.

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