Our latest everyday wine picks hail from California’s rugged Central Coast — namely, the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area (AVA) in San Luis Obispo County. Wedged roughly halfway between Monterey (to the north) and Santa Barbara (to the south), this appellation is distinguished by rugged landscape, broad daytime-nighttime temperature variations (hot days, cool nights — among the widest swings in California wine country), and a lingering growing season that allows grapes to hang on the vine and slowly mature until late in the year before winter rains arrive. Such growing conditions favor hardy grape varieties, and Cabernet Sauvignon, among these, is a particularly strong performer and the most widely planted variety in Paso Robles.
Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon is available at a wide range of price points, but these two bottlings go to show that you don’t have to spend a small fortune or search too far to experience a good quality and soundly enjoyable “Paso Cab.” J. Lohr and Estancia are both large producers with national distribution, and many of their wines are modestly priced and can be found in most supermarkets and wine stores. If you’re in search of an easy to find red wine that is flavorful, versatile, and crowd-pleasing, we recommend you give one or both of these Cabernets a try. They are sure to complement just about anything you have on the table, whether steak, burgers on the grill, pizza, or party fare. Our tasting notes follow.
J. Lohr | 2011 Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon ($12): loaded with blackberry, roasted coffee bean, and black peppercorn aromas, followed by flavors of dark fruit compote, roasted plum, and vanilla-tinged oak, with hints of cocoa butter. Fruit-driven, full-bodied, and smooth, this is an elegant Cabernet. (Aged 12 months in American oak; blended with small measures of Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, and Syrah. 13.7% ABV) For more information on this and other J. Lohr wines, visit them virtually at www.jlohr.com.
Estancia | 2011 Keyes Canyon Ranches Cabernet Sauvignon ($12): aromas of ripe black cherry, black tea leaf, and dried herbs lead to flavors of black currant, roasted red pepper, and toasty oak, with hints of cranberry. Fruit-driven, medium-full bodied, and tangy, this is a racy Cabernet. (Aged 14 months in French and American oak; blended with small measures of Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, and Syrah. 13.5% ABV) For more information on this and other Estancia wines, visit them virtually at www.estanciawines.com.
We found both of these wines at Total Wine in Alexandria, Virginia, and they’re available at Total Wine stores nationwide. Visit them at www.totalwine.com for a location near you.
If you would like to learn more about Paso Robles and the region’s viticulture and winemaking, visit the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance at www.pasowine.com.