Pour the Paso, Please! Exploring the best bottles from the emerging wine region

By Alison Bailin Batz

Paso Robles is a winemaking region on the rise. Located along California’s Coast, Paso Robles winemaking dates back to the 1980s, but it was the well-received Saxum brand in 2010 followed by Wine Enthusiast naming it the Wine Region of the Year in 2013 that really brought acclaim to the area. Today, there are more than 200 wineries and 40,000 vineyard acres producing at least 60 types of varietals. Here are a few of our favorites:

2020 Justin Vineyards Rosé

Dry yet refreshing with a pale salmon color when poured, the nose is exceptionally floral at first before giving way to berry and apple notes. To the taste, there is an ever-so-slight hint of strawberry and then bigger flavors of melon, raspberry and chamomile. $20

2018 San Simeon Cabernet Sauvignon

A triumph from the famed Riboli family, who’ve been making wine across California for more than 100 years, this cab benefits from aging in a selection of French and American oak barrels, which allows for the wine to develop aromas of baking spices and vanilla before dark fruit and a balanced acidity takes over on the palate. $25

J. Lohr Pure Paso
Proprietary Red Blend

A perfect entrée to the bold-yet-smooth wines of the region, this blend of J. Lohr’s cabernet and petit sirah dances across the nose and onto the lips with a bouquet of cocoa powder, caramel and star anise. Then, black cherry joins the party, soon becoming the star of the sip. $27

Vina Robles
2018 Petite Syrah

Structured and elegant with hints of caramel throughout, this rich red comes alive on the palate with bursts of boysenberry and plum before offering a creamy finish that makes it ultra-drinkable all year long, but especially while stuck inside during a summer monsoon. $29

Chronic Cellars 2019
The Unteachables

Do not let the playful name fool you. This is neither a CBD-infused wine nor a kitschy cheap tourist one. A wild child of a bottle, there is a punch of blueberry in every sip as well as blackberry and mocha notes, both balanced by leather before finishing with one final knockout hit of juicy black fruit. $30 

One Hope Paso Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

There is not a much better pairing than red wine with chocolate. That is what makes this varietal so special — the wine itself has just the teeniest flavor of chocolate! Mind you, it is not sweet. The chocolate is but one note in this rich offering. It is complemented by dried herbs and vanilla. $35

Barton 2020
Summertime Grenache Blanc

As bright as the day is long, this delight of a white smells of lemon verbena, green apples and a hint of gravel. To the taste, mango and honeysuckle take center stage before a crisp finish, making it perfect for drinking poolside or on a floaty with friends. $36

Epoch Estate White

This is both a unique blend — grenache blanc, viognier and roussanne — but a unique means of development, as the wine is fermented in what is called an oak cask, offering both oak and concrete. The result is a harmonic combination of ripe yellow peach, lemon oil, green pear, fresh cream and maybe even a bit of wet clay, but in a good way! $40

Adelaida 2018 Counoise

A popular Rhone variety of grape often blended with other types, counoise is known for its pepper and acid. Done right, as it is here, the red grape can shine on its own. To the eye, it looks like liquid rubies. And to the taste? Beyond the spice, there is a wonderful red currant and clove combination that will be a treat to many a tastebud. $40

2018 Smith & Hook Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

A cabernet through and through, this is a glowing crimson to the eye and sublime to the sip. It starts with cassis and cedar, and perhaps a note of edible flowers. Then, there is a roller coaster of tastes in constant motion on the tongue, notably plum and leather, before a bit of tobacco comes in to balance everything out. $45

2019 My Favorite Neighbor

Named to honor the farmers who work closely with winemakers — his “favorite neighbors” — this bottle is a true celebration of the land and its people. Expect a complex nose of red cherry and raspberry with a bit of toasted marshmallow here, followed by fig compote, coffee and even crème brulee to the taste. $50

2016 True Myth Reserve
Cabernet Sauvignon

Meant to showcase the Central Coast in all its splendor, this varietal feels part good winemaking and good witchcraft. This 100% cabernet is dark and alluring, full-bodied and opulent. It offers flavors of both red and black fruits as well as a duo of mocha and sweet spices in every sensational sip. $55

Austin Hope
Sauvignon 2018

If layered flavors tickle your fancy, prepare to be pleased. This deep ruby cab offers aromas of currants and smoke before revealing a spice on the nose. To the taste, expect the big, juicy flavors of blackberry and ripe cherry followed by vanilla bean and then intoxicating brown butter. $56

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