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Mar '19

Trip Report: SLO Wine

While Jameson was off at work, I was off at play, sampling some of the local wineries.

Stop number one was Sextant, who has a branch tasting room and deli in the Edna Valley. Having not had breakfast, I needed food before wine:

Was getting grounded after a little food, but did chat a little and try their Verdejo. Sadly, they didn’t have their Tannat open as it’s a Wine Club only wine. This stop was a nice “dip the toe in the water” with regard to Edna Valley prices. The full tasting would have been $20, and sandwich was a little over $10, light on the meat, but did have a nice salad. Wines ranged from $25 for the entry cab, $28 for the Verdejo, and quickly escalating mostly in the $30-60 range. They weren’t on the list of planned visits – but food call, and once you are out of San Luis Obispo, there isn’t really aren’t food option, why most people opt for the charcuterie plates that the wineries seemed to have standardized on. If you want a big lunch, grab it in the city before heading out to the valley, or pack a picnic.

The list of planned wineries started down the road at Kynsi Winery. The advantage of being in the trade (and remembering your business cards) is that other wines start appearing in addition to the standard tasting menu wines, especially if you are doing a tasting during the week it is quieter. Most of the wineries seems to be open seven days a week.

But back to Kynsi, The standard tasting ($15) included five samples, starting with their Pinot Blanc ($24), a Chardonnay ($28), then two of their Pinot Noirs ($36 and $56). The Edna Valley is a cool growing region known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The next round were a couple of their Estate cool-climate Syrahs ($34 and $48), followed by my favorites, probably because of the unusual blends. The Hutash is a non-vintage blend (I think ’15 and ’16) of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Syrah ($28 – this is the one that I purchased) and their 2015 Nocturnum which is 50/50 Pinot Noir/Grenache ($39) which got 93 points and Editor’s Choice from Wine Enthusiast. It was a tough choice to figure out which of two would be best with the lamb and feta burgers for dinner tonight.

Interesting note about the winery – the woman running the tasting counter used to run the tasting room at Bonny Doon when they had a tasting room in Paso Robles. We shared a lot of Randal Graham (owner of Bonny Doon). Showed her the picture of the two 5-liter bottles of Bonny Doon I brought down for next month’s wedding. Nice views of the valley from the outdoor tasting area – and the new tasting bar getting coats of stain. GREAT WOOD!

Next up – I usually only do two wineries a day so that I get to swallow rather than spit – was Claiborne & Churchill. Their tasting fee is $18 for a flight of four (or by a bottle and sit on the patio – which is a common theme for the wineries I visited), and most amusingly, $22 if you have 8 or more people (because they know they won’t sell even a bottle).

We started with their Dry Gewürztraminer ($24), then their Dry Riesling ($22). Next up was an addition to the tasting, the Cuvée Fredericka (named after the owner) Chardonnay ($34), followed by the 2016 Estate Pinot ($32), then another addition to the tasting, the 2017 Straw Bale Red ($28, which I bought) which is 90% Pinot Noir, 5% Grenache, 5% Syrah. Back to the tasting menu with their Wolff Vineyard Syrah ($35) and finishing up with their Portobispo (a port-like wine for $28).

Great conversations with Eileen who was running my tasting, and another couple at the bar about where to go on tomorrow’s tasting run.

Just driving around the valley is a joy…

FYI – the lamb feta burgers were consumed the with the Kynsi Hutash.

The following day started off (after breakfast at Jameson’s place) at an old schoolhouse which is the tasting room for Baileyana Tangent & True Myth. Tasting was $15 for a flight of five.

On the tasting menu was a Chardonnay ($30), a really tasty “El Pico” Pinot (35), followed by a 60/40 Grenache/Syrah blend ($38) and their Estate Syrah ($35). Usually I pass on the dessert wines, but the had a Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc open. In the end, because we were having Crispy Chicken for dinner tonight, I went with their Estate Pinot Noir Rosé ($24).

Next up was the Chamisal Vineyard, just down the road by Edna Valley standards (refer to map below).

We started off with a couple of their Chardonnays ($35 and $50), a plus taste of the Rosé of Pinot ($28, which was what I bought), then a Pinot ($45), onto a Grenache ($45), and then Syrah ($60). I should note that they also slipped in a Stainless Chardonnay (18).

I broke with my usual two wineries a day, and opted for Talley, which, while closer to Arroyo Grande where next month’s wedding is, but I won’t have a car. And it was recommended by multiple people. $15 for the Core Flight, $20 for the Distinctive Flight.

Today’s tasting was “this and that” from both of the tasting flights, mostly from the Distinctive Flight, with a couple of wines from the Core Flight and a Cabernet Franc that was sold for growlers only (I thought the Cab Franc was musty, but never got a confirmation from anyone else). They were all solid wines (maybe with the exception of the Cab Franc). That said, tried the Bishop’s Peak Sauvignon Blanc ($24), two of the Chardonnays (both $34), before moving onto the Estate Pinot ($34), their Rincon Pinot ($68) and Rosemary’s Pinot ($75) before switching to the heavier reds with their Bishop’s Peak Cabernet Sauvignon (85% Cabernet, 4% Petite Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec, $24, and the purchase wine from here) along with the Bishop’s Peak Elevation (Four Rhone varietals, $34).

All in all, it was a wonderful couple of days of tasting – trying to see if I can put together a shop tasting for some of these.

Here is a map of the winery area…

Hopefully, I’ll be visiting Qupé and Timbre down in Arroyo Grande next month, stay tuned!


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