The day after Christmas we needed to run some errands for wine customers – picking up special request wines from local Paso Robles wineries – and decided to take in a few tastes along the way. We would’nt normally stop at Eagle’s Castle to taste wine, but were there to pick up some of their ’03 Merlot for a customer and thought we’d at least try what they had. I have to say, if you’ve never been to this winery, don’t bother – I wasn’t a fan of anything except maybe the Barbera which was for club members only due to the 150 case production.
Moving on, we cruised over to Lone Madrone/Stephen’s Cellar - a shared tasting room by both wineries whose winmakers are good friends. Stephen’s Cellar focuses primarily on Pinot Noir which they do quite well for a burgundian-style. We tasted the 2004 which had aromas of dark cherries with some very subtle toasty oak in the background and a more medium-to-full-bodied style. Under the Lone Madrone label we tried their Nebiollo which had loads of fruit on the nose, nice strawberry flavors mixed with some vanilla. The unpleasantly named “Barfandel” which is a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Barbera which was a tasty mixture of fruit, cocoa and spicy oak.
The belle of the ball was when we headed over to Booker Vineyards www.bookerwines.com for a private tasting with winemaker/owner Eric Jensen where we tasted some of the best Rhone varietals and blends made on the Central Coast. Booker has been growing and selling fruit for awhile to the likes of Saxum and L’Aventure to name a couple, but 2005 was their first bottling with the Booker label. We tasted their Fracture Syrah, Vertigo Syrah/Grenache blend (90/10), the Ripper Grenache/Syrah blend (90/10) , and the Remnant Syrah, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot blend before moving into the barrel tastings of their 2006 vintage. All their wines, even their 2006′s in the barrel were fabulous, complex, velvety, dark ruby red, fruity, spicy and full-b0died. The Ripper is a tough one to find these days as it’s sold out – I can’t wait for the next vintage to be released this Spring. I’m holding onto my Ripper for as long as I can…or at least until someone offers me enough money for it