For the fifth year in a row, I thought it would be a great idea to recommend local wines for upcoming holiday parties, dinners, and gift giving. Once again, I received an amazing amount of participation from our local wineries. Over the last few weeks, I received more than 100 entries. After tasting and tasting, there were many solid, well-made wines to recommend. I have created several lists of top local wines into categories below.
Best local sparkling wines
Bianchi Signature Selection Sparkling Wine – $20
Bianchi’s California Champagne is a lively and fruity style bubbly brut that is good for everyday enjoyment or that special soirée. It’s a non-vintage sparkling, and a perfect treat for the holidays.
Brochelle Bubbles – $32
This Method Champenoise style, blanc de blanc cuveee is known for its creamy flavor and tiny bubbles. It’s a dry brut-style wine with a touch of sweetness. It has a yeasty bouquet, a supple mid=palate, and bright, crisp apple flavors.
Broken Earth 2015 Merlot Sotto Voce – $30
This sparkling merlot shows a deep crimson red hue and a touch of sweetness sure to delight any holiday party. It offers bold flavors of cherry, licorice and red currants. Pair it with salads and appetizers. Cheers!
Laetitia Brut Cuvée Sparkling Wine – $28
This non-vintage effervescent sparkling wine is light and easy to drink. It comes from one of the county’s premier sparkling wine producers. It was made using the traditional Methode Champenoise style. Tiny bubbles and a crisp finish make this sparkling a real crowd pleaser. It’s a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot blanc. It will pair well with a dessert or a fruit and cheese course.
Pomar Junction Sparkling White – $36
This Méthode Champenoise brut is made primarily from chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. This non-vintage wine is not sweet, nor is it dry, but rather is very well balanced with a round finish. Notes of pear, apple, and a light effervescence makes this sparkling a perfect match to a light meal pairing or a celebratory toast.
Vina Robles Brut Sparkling Wine – $23
A classic non-vintage bubbly perfect for holiday toasts. It’s a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir. This sparkling wine is produced using the traditional Methode Champenoise” style, which undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. It has notes of apple and a toasty finish.
Wild Coyote Sparkling Rose – $30
A bright wine with hints of strawberry and a dash of citrus. It’s elegant with tiny bubbles from the Methode Champenoise process. It’s made from 81% pinot noir with a splash of other varieties.
Best local rosé wines
Asuncion Ridge 2017 Rosé – $25
This delicious rosé offers flavors of strawberries and blood orange with a peach, watermelon, & yellow cherry finish. Only 100 cases produced.
Bushong 2017 Pretty in Pink Rosé – $23
This syrah rosé a perfect holiday party starter. It offers a nose of dried apple, juicy watermelon, and finishes with a touch of blood orange. It will pair well with appetizers and the main course.
Diablo Paso 2017 Rosé Sin Pecado – $28
This delicious pink wine is made from 92%-percent garnacha with a splash of tempranillo albariño. The grapes began with a cold soak for 24 hours in the skins of garnacha plus a signee-bleed for cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks. This is a delicately fresh wine with light fruit aromas and lingering flavors of cherries, watermelon and strawberries.
LaZarre 2017 Vin Gris – $20
This is a Santa Barbara County rose of pinot noir. It offers pretty notes of strawberry, pomegranate, and marzipan on the nose. On the palate, taste red fruit compote suspended by a bright thread of acidity that carry the flavors well into the finish.
LXV 2017 Heart Note Rosé – $29
Visually, this rose is striking, like translucent saffron. The nose presents layered notes of hibiscus, pomegranate, and passion fruit. On the palate, succulent hints of bing cherry, persimmon, and spice emerge. It’s dry and crisp with a refreshing burst of acidity.
Pelletiere Estate 2017 Mayson Rosé – $32
With vibrant watermelon hues and summer citrus aromas, the 2017 Mayson rosé has a day and night allure. Its finish lingers, with the sweetness of fresh-picked strawberries making it perfectly crisp and refreshing. It’s a perfect wine for any holiday party.
Penman Springs 2017 Rosé – $20
This pink is a blend of 74-percent petite syrah and 26-percent syrah, The aromas of cherries will hit your senses. This rosé will coat your palate with hints of green apple, a creamy texture, and a silky finish. This will pair well with turkey and all your sides for Thanksgiving.
Riverstar Vineyards 2017 Rosé – $22
This pink will be great for the holidays. Your taste buds will be hit with notes of strawberry and sour raspberry as it hits your pallet. The floral aromas add to this lovely rose. This is a great wine to start your holiday party or paired with a charcuterie platter of meats, fruits, and cheeses.
Victor Hugo Les Mis 2017 Estate Rosé – $16
This rosé is a great value! It has aromas of ripe strawberries and citrus. It’s smooth, while still having a bright tang. It will pair well with a cool chicken salad and other light finger foods.
Vina Robles 2017 Rosé – $16
This syrah rosé from their Huerhuero Vineyard is packed with flavor and a great value. The aroma of ripe plum with hints of cranberry and honey give it a refreshing taste. Chilled its best way to drink it. It will pair well with pork and light chicken dishes. It even goes well with smoked salmon.
Vista Del Rey 2017 Playa Del Zin Rosé – $20
Red zinfandel free run juice was drained off and fermented in neutral oak barrels. It’s a bright, vibrant, dry relaxing wine.
Best local white wines
Allegretto 2016 Duetto White Blend – $32
Co-fermenting viognier and vermentino produced this delightful white with balanced acidity, and aromas of cardamom and orange blossom. This light-bodied wine is rounded out with notes of pineapple and crisp apple.
Asuncion Ridge 2017 Chardonnay – $34
This refreshing chard delivers flavors of Meyer lemon preserves, golden delicious apple, and cantaloupe with a white peach and cardamom finish.
Bianchi 2016 Chardonnay – $25
Excellent value for a delightful white wine. It has stone fruit and citrus flavors with toasty oak spice.
Brecon Estate 2017 Conviction – $29
A white Rhone-style blend of grenache blanc and viognier with layered aromatics, superb color and an intriguing palate. It’s the consummate winter white food wine. Rich and bold to the initial palate, it is immediately complemented by a veritable fruit bowl of citrus characters; lemon, lime, mandarin and grapefruit. Perfect compliment for creamy soups, chicken, and pasta dishes. Leaves the palate refreshed for that inevitable second helping.
Broken Earth Winery Vermentino 2017 – $24
This Italian-style white wine offers aromas of pear and honeydew melon with flavors of stone fruit. It finishes with a ripe and sweet candy fragrance.
Calipaso 2016 Reserve Chardonnay – $38
This luxurious white has aromas of lemon zest and ripe melon mingled with subtle floral notes and just the right amount of vanilla. On the palate, the fruit and natural acidity compliment each other and lead to a rich finish.
Cass 2016 Rockin’ One Blanc – $32
This is a delightful blend of 45-percent roussanne, 28-percent marsanne, and 27-percent viognier. It offers aromas and flavors of apple, lemon custard and white peach. It has a soft acidity and pleasant minimality. The blend earned 90 points from Vinous.
Eberle 2016 Cotes-du-Robles Blanc – $24
This Rhone-style wine is a blend of grenache blanc and rousanne with a touch of viognier. It leads with an aroma of orange blossom and cardamom and fills the mouth with flavors pear and lemon zest. It will pair well with appetizers like soft aged cheeses, shellfish and other seafood.
Hearst Ranch Winery 2016 Glacier Ridge Chardonnay – $25
Let this wine breathe a little while in the glass to enjoy its fullness. Mineral undertones add an interesting texture to this wine’s varietal character. Enjoy with smoked salmon appetizers, seared ahi, or rare to medium-rare steak medallions. This chardonnay is a versatile wine with the body to support any holiday food pairing.
J Dusi 2017 Pinot Grigio – $18
A perfect start to any dinner party and a fantastic value. This crystal clear and stainless steel fermented Pinot Grigio is refreshing and light. It offers hints of wildflowers and flavors of honeydew melon, pear and passion fruit.
Opolo 2017 Roussanne – $26
Opens with sumptuous aromas of lemongrass and white peach. Flavors of green apple and cinnamon lead to a fleshy mouthfeel and a lively mineral finish.
Peachy Canyon 2016 Chardonnay – $32
This York Mountain chardonnay opens on the nose with lemon rind, green apple, and toasted oak. The whole-cluster-pressed wine reveals flavors of creamy lemon bar and tropical fruit and finishes with notes of creme brûlée.
Penman Springs Vineyard 2017 Muscat Blanc “Ozzie” – $15
This muscat blanc is an great value and perfect for the holidays. It offers sweet aromas of citrus with flavors of apricots followed by a smooth, silky and sparkly finish.
Riverstar 2017 Sauvignon Blanc – $22
This delightful white has tropical aromas with notes of citrus, grapefruit and passion fruit. It finishes with a bright acidity.
Robert Hall 2016 Cavern Select Chardonnay – $28
This vintage has aromas of spiced apples and apricots. It’s medium bodied with flavors of pastry cream and toasted oak.
San Simeon 2016 Viognier – $20
This wine is a clear straw green color. It offers delicate, toasty, tropical aromas of peaches. It has flavors of coconut macaroon, dried mango, and sweet and peppery spices. It finishes with moderate oak.
Talley Vineyards 2016 Estate Chardonnay – $34
Talley’s signature white wine. It’s an expression of the calcareous soils and cool maritime climate of the Arroyo Grande Valley. It has a light gold appearance, with a buttery aroma. On the palate, classic citrus elements of tangerine and lemon are enhanced with notes of honey-roasted nuts and a toasty finish.
Victor Hugo 2017 Estate Viognier – $22
This viognier offers aromas of honeysuckle and ripe apricots intertwined with hints of almond blossom. The rich, silky flavors from the new seasoned Hungarian Oak Barrels give it a rich finish. It is ready to drink now, this viognier is delicious and approachable. It’s a good wine to pair with appetizers, cheeses, and holiday meal.
Vina Robles 2015 White 4 – $16
This refreshing blend is a great value and showcases the bold fruit flavors of viognier, pleasantly crisp verdelho, rich smooth finish of vermintino and sweet hints of honeysuckle and pear in the sauvigon blanc. With layers of fruit and richness this medium-bodied wine has a delicious quenching finish.
Best local Spanish-style white wines
Circle B 2016 Albarino – $20
It’s a delicate white, but robust with aromas of peach, apricot and honeydew melon. Pairs well with, scallops, mussels and tapas. This is a smooth and delicious white, and it’s a great value. It’s a great way to start any holiday party.
Diablo Paso 2016 Albarino – $36
Albarino originates in Rias Baixas Southwestern Coast of Galicia Spain. This wine was fermented in 20-percent new French oak barrels and lees for eight months. It was grown on the Paragon Vineyard in the appellation Edna Valley. It is crisp, with notes of peach, guanabana, and tropical fruits. Round ripe mouth feel and a great minerality and savory with a slightly exotic personality in the finish. Food pairing Brazilian Moqueca fish Stew or Sushi.
Vina Robles 2017 Albarino – $19
This Huerhuero Vineyard wine offers a nose of lime, lemon and pear. The flavors deliver the same with a perfect minerality and balanced acidity. This is a juicy wine that pairs well with tapas and appetizers, or is great all by itself.
Best local Spanish-style red wines
Calipaso 2013 The Kinne Tempranillo – $45
This is Calipaso’s first small-lot reserve wine. It’s named after Alan Kinne, their director of wine making for his pioneering work over the last 20 years in Tempranillo. The wine offers black cherry and dried fig flavors with hints of tobacco and cedar.
Diablo Paso 2016 Garnacha – $42
Though the French varietal Grenache is perhaps more widely known, the Spanish garnacha is one of the oldest varieties grown in California. Spanish settlers along the west coast began planting garnacha, which originated in the Spanish province of Aragon, in the mid-1800s for wine production. This wine used whole-cluster fermentation. The result is a rich and elegant yet medium bodied wine, with a violet rim and orange highlights and a deep cherry tone at the core.
Diablo Paso 2016 Tempranillo – $45
Tempranillo is an early ripening variety that tends to thrive in chalky vineyards soils. This wine has a dark red color, a full nose of ripened fruit, dark dry fruits, leather with a hint of tobacco, notes of chocolate, and a round mouth. A complex wine with smooth tannins is achieved. Food pairing: Paella, hot tapas, Jamon Serrano and Manchego Cheese.
Hearst Ranch Winery 2015 Chileno Tempranillo – $32
This wine is rich in flavor. Providing wonderful aromas on the nose. A dark berry flavor that glides over the palate and has a nice finish. Pairs nicely with most any red meat, as well as working nicely with Mexican foods. This wine was aged 18 months in a combination of French and American oak barrels.
Cypher 2014 Eclectic Red Wine – $55
This is an interesting and tasty red wine blend of primarily classic port varieties from Portugal, Spain’s next door neighbor. It includes Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cao, cabernet sauvignon, teroldego and tinta roriz. It has a huge nose packed with anise, cherry, black tea, and spice. It offers flavors of lush blueberry, cranberry, and juicy raspberry, trailing into a mocha and oak finish.
Best local pinot noir wines
Asuncion Ridge – 2015 Barrel Select Pinot Noir – $65
This delicious pinot offers flavors of cherry cola, boysenberry, and caramel with a sweet tea and blueberry crumble finish. Only 75 cases were produced. It just earned 90 Points from Wine Enthusiast and was an editors’ choice.
Bianchi Winery 2015 Pinot Noir – $38
From Garey Vineyards in Santa Maria Valley, this pinot noir is medium-bodied yet light with a fruity aroma and a robust earthy, tannic and oak finish. Hints of raspberry, vanilla, chocolate and smokey cedar. The flavor lingers.
Bushong 2016 Ananda Pinot Noir – $47
Ananda is Sanskrit for “Infinite Joy”. This pinot from the Derbyshire Vineyard in San Simeon delivers on its promise. It’s a rich pinot noir with velvety mouthfeel and classical ripe grapefruit notes.
Laetitia 2016 Reserve du Domaine Pinot Noir – $44
This elegant wine comes from one of the county’s top producers of pinot noir. With an initial spiced berry quality, the wine unwinds slowly into notes of cedar plank and delicate rose petal, framed by fine, dusty tannins. The palate is expressive with tangy notes of sarsaparilla, red currant and warm baking spice. This wine earned 91 points from Wine Spectator.
LaZarre 2014 Pinot Noir – $54
The fruit in this bottle comes from the famous La Encantada vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills. It has a complex array of aromatics: bing cherries, strawberries, tarragon, vanilla bean, and cocoa powder. The flavors are even more intense and change beautifully as the wine opens up.
San Simeon 2017 Pinot Noir – $15
This is a rich, fruit-driven wine with ripe flavors of strawberry and raspberry. The mouth is soft and round with a lingering finish. Aromas of bright red fruit, cinnamon, and oak spice are revealed on the fragrant nose.
Talley Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir – $42
Talley’s signature red wine. It’s an expression of the calcareous soils and cool maritime climate of the Arroyo Grande Valley. This vintage is a crimson purple with aromas of raspberries, cherries and rhubarb. The palate offers notes of juicy berries, plum, and cranberry.
Best local zinfandel and Italian-style wines
Brochelle Vineyards 2016 Zinfandel – $36
Herbs and spice along with a rich cocoa and black cherry make this wine very luxurious and decadent. Fruit flavors intertwine and play nicely with the savory notes of oak and cracked pepper, with a raspberry finish. This wine is best paired with grilled meats.
Circle B 2015 Zinfandel Reserve – $35
This wine delivers an overall balanced approach of fruit to acidity. Blackberries fruit, leather, cedar bring a rich flavor across the palet. This wine is the perfect pairing with BBQ Ribs. Only 25 Cases were produced.
Circle B Vineyard & Cellars 2014 Zinfandel Reserve – $28
Rich Ruby and Garnet color and fresh berries and plums on the nose. A beautiful balance of fruit on the palate with a hint of cedar, black cherries and a soft oak finish. Only 25 cases were made. This would pair well with filet mignon or a porterhouse steak.
Cypher 2014 Slayer – $60
This rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec & Petit Verdot has strong notes of blackberries & raspberries on the nose with hints of black current & cherry. Soft tannins make this a complex wine, hints of toasted oak and vanilla at the finish. Pairs well with beef.
Eberle 2017 Zinfandel – $30
This classic Paso Robles zin won a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition and a Gold Medal at the 2016 West Coast Wine Competition. The palate and nose is filled with blackberry and ripe strawberry with a hint of sarsaparilla and a touch of sweet toasted oak. These grapes were sourced from three outstanding Paso Robles vineyards: Steinbeck, CoCaVin & Wine-Bush. It will pair well with grilled pork and beef.
J Dusi 2016 Paper Street Zinfandel
The Dusi name is synonymous with zinfandel and Janell Dusi exceeds expectations with this Paper Street Zin. It offers dark and intense fruit structure with light spice and big bursts of boldness. Hand harvested from the rugged terrain of the Paper Street Vineyard, it lets the grapes speak for themselves. Listen carefully and you’ll be rewarded.
LXV 2015 Crimson Jewel – $55
This sangiovese blend is a rich medley of blackberries and olallieberries, with underlying notes of nutmeg and clove. The bright acidity of sangiovese serves as the wines backbone and supports it across the palate into the finish where the heft and structure of petit verdot round out and complete the performance.
Maddalena 2016 Zinfandel $18.95
From the Riboli family, this Paso Robles Zzn is rich and robust with an inky purple hue. Notes of bright raspberry, spice black plum, baking spices, oak, and just a touch of smoke. It has a chewy and velvety mouth feel with a dry finish. Not too sweet. Would be perfect with a steak. 15.1% ABV.
Opolo 2016 Mountain Zinfandel – $29
A decadently jammy and fruit forward wine. Opens with rich aromas of raspberry, rhubarb, Bing cherry with hints of vanilla, cedar and tea leaf. Flavors of dark plum and cherry are married with silky smooth tannins that lead into a long and stratifying finish.
Peachy Canyon 2015 Clevenger Zinfandel – $42
Our holiday zinfandel recommendations would not be complete without a nod to one of Paso Robles’ most-famed zin producers. This bottle delivers classic Willow Creek AVA zinfandel flavors. This wine is flush with floral aromas. On the palate, taste blueberry, rhubarb, and orange zest. It leaves a dry, white peppery finish.
Pomar Junction 2014 Zinfandel Reserve – $65
This estate wine’s intense blueberry and blackberry flavors and supple tannins will pair with holiday meals of rich meats such as rack of lamb, prime rib, and roasted duck with grilled vegetables or a hearty beef stew.
Riverstar Vineyards 2016 Zinfandel – $32
This Zinfandel has a thick and sweet taste right from the start. Hints of Blackberry and chocolate dance on the nose. Very smooth and steady overall sweet taste. Finishes with a prominent vanilla finale.
Rotta 2016 Super Rotta – $60
A dark red blend of zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon. It has aromas of blackberry and cherry laced with spice. Those flavors continue on the palate with rhubarb and fig with lively acidity and creamy tannins that turn to velvet. It will pair well with grilled meats and barbecue.
Victor Hugo 2016 Estate Zinfandel – $24
This wine brings intense aromas of black raspberry, boysenberry, along with a hint of semi-sweet chocolate. Full berry flavors lead the way in this wine followed by elegant tannins. The combination of flavors left a desirable long-lasting flavor on the palette. This wine pairs wonderfully with rich red sauces as well as seafood and chicken.
Vina Robles 2013 Zinfandel – $32
This classic zin shows ruby garnet colors. It has a delicious nose of red fruits and hints of black pepper. It delivers flavors of rich berry fruit and chocolate. It will pair well with pork, lamb and filet mignon.
Vista Del Rey 2016 ‘Bocado Robusto’ Zinfandel – $30
A robust mouthful of dry-farmed zinfandel grapes. It’s a big, spicy wine with dark berry, plum, and cherry flavors. Drink all by itself or pair with grilled meats, pizzas and pastas. Enjoy a glass while decorating for the holidays.
Best local cabernet sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends
Allegretto 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – $75
This bold cab is an Ayres Family Reserve wine from the Willow Creek AVA of Paso Robles. It has deep purple coloring and alluring nose of red berries. It delivers black cherry flavors with a hint of oak and tobacco with solid tannins. It will pair well with a holiday meal.
Allegretto 2015 Tannat – $55
This is a medium-bodied red with the classic notes of tannat. It offers cinnamon and anise, followed by hints of red cherries. It’s rich, yet supple, with a lingering finish.
Bianchi 2015 Petite Syrah – $30
This bold red is a gold medal winner and earned 92 points from Wine Enthusiast. It has dark brick hues and boasts flavors of floral plum and vanilla with a hint of earthiness. It’s very food friendly.
Broken Earth 2016 Limited Release Merlot – $22
If the movie Sideways ever questioned your taste in merlot, this is one wine that will restore your faith in the Bordeaux varietal. It shows coffee, dark chocolate and spices on the nose leading to juicy flavors and bold black cherry and plum flavors. The palate is rich with fruit and firm tannins.
Broken Earth 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – $22
This is a classic Paso Robles cab with loads of boysenberry fruit. There are hints of licorice and cassis on the nose with depths of fruit flavors on the palate. It’s a delightful wine that will pair well with holiday meals.
Cass 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – $55
Ample dark fruit and savory spice emanate from this cab. A montage of flavors comparable to blackcurrant, plum, and cherries envelope the palate. A soft yet structured core presents bright boysenberry, which overlay the subtleties of cracked peppercorn and crushed violets. It earned 93 points from the American Wine Society.
Eberle Winery 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – $45
Gary Eberle’s flagship wine captures his vision of Paso Robles as a premium cabernet region. This wine has a palate full of rich dark fruit flavors like black cherry with hints of cola and cedar. It has a long finish with velvety tannins. It’s a holiday meal classic.
Hearst Ranch Winery 2015 Babicora Malbec – $32
The candied cranberry aromatics and sweet vanilla will remain on the pallet. The luscious fruit flavors and rich spice balance it bright acidity and soft tannins; 85% Malbec & 15% Petit Verdot. This Malbec is versatile and will pair well for those who do not like a lot of tannins. This is a wine you can really dive into, Luscious fruit Flavors and rich spice would go great with prime rib or pork tenderloin. Hearst Ranch delivers on all there wines.
LaZarre 2016 Merlot – $40
This Paso Robles Merlot is a single vineyard select from the Santa Margarita Ranch located near the Cuesta Grade. It offers flavors of blackberries, cherries and a hint of chocolate and cedar wood. This wine will pair well with lamb, pork, and pastas.
Opolo 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – $33
Blackberry and oak on the nose. Full bodied and jammy, with velvety tannins. Flavors of rich blackberry and notes of oak. It’s a delicious cab, that is both rich and well-balanced, without being overpowering.
Parrish 2014 Reserve Silken – $50
A dense plummy nose of milk chocolate and cherry compote is quite unctuous for this dark brooding blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Petite Sirah. It’s very soft and welcoming upon entry to the palate, showing slightly tart yet plush plum and fig flavors. The tannins are still sticky at this young age.
Penman Springs Meritage 2014 Artisan Cuvee – $30
Red Berries, oak and spice are the initial aroma hints taken in after opening this bottle of Meritage. Savory notes of blueberries and cassis lead the way to a long and complex finish of dark plum and mocha. This wine can pair well with lamb or duck dishes.
Pomar Junction 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – $40
This estate cab leads with a nose of red rose and boysenberries. The palate offers black plum, chocolate and vanilla flavors. It has a long spicy finish with tannin and caramel. It will pair well with red meats, especially steak.
Rotta 2016 Time Capsule – $75
Aged for 18 months in French Oak, this rich wine is a Bordeaux-blend of cabernet sauvignon, petite verdot and a splash of malbec. It has loads of berry fruit, black currant, and hints of mocha with an elegant oaky finish.
San Simeon 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – $20
This wine offers bright aromas of dark raspberry and black cherry. Ripe flavors of spicy plum and currant are complemented by nuances of cocoa and cedary oak from barrel-aging. Structured, tannins provide texture and depth with a lengthy finish. A small percentage of petit verdot was added for additional complexity.
Vina Robles 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – $26
This wine was produced from a mix of fruit picked on two Vina Robles estate vineyards, located in Paso Robles. Delivering an overall bold blueberry flavor with hints of licorice, juniper berry, and black olives. The overall finish is a nice rich deep flavor. Beef dishes make a nice pairing with this wine.
Vina Robles 2014 Tannat – $34
The grapes for this wine were hand-picked from the Huerhuero Vineyard. The dark garnet-colored wine has a nose of cherry pie, ripe plums and dates. It’s full-bodied with rich, fleshy tannins and a firm acidity on the finish.
Best local red Rhone-style wines
Brecon 2016 Forty-Two – $64
A delicious fruit-forward Rhone-style blend of syrah, mourvèdre and petit sarah. Most of the grapes were grown in the esteemed Adelaida District AVA. It earned 92 points from Wine Enthusiast and 91 points from Robert Parker.
Bushong 2015 Vineyard 1010 Grenache – $43
Wow! This grenache packs everything I love in a Rhone-Style wine. It offers flavors bold berries and spice with a touch of leather and pepper. This powerful wine will
Bushong 2016 Power Corruption & Lies – $43
A deep, rich blend of syrah, petite sirah, and grenache. A nose of black cherry with cocoa and holiday spices. It’s full-bodied with smooth tannins This wine lends itself to be the sophisticated red wine at the holiday table.
Cass 2015 Rockin’ One Red – $49
A harmonious blend of grenache, mourvèdre, syrah and petite sirah. It displays nuances of stewed boysenberries, dried raspberry, pipe tobacco, clove and orange zest. This wine earned 91 points from Vinous and a Gold Medal at the Central Coast Wine Competition.
Cypher 2013 Drop Dead Legs Grenache – $50
This dark ruby colored grenache opens with a pleasant strawberry bouquet with hints of blueberry and oak. On the palate, this wine is full-bodied, juicy and lush. Flavors include raspberry and strawberry. The finish is dry with moderate tannins. It will pair well with prime rib.
Cypher 2014 GSM – $55
This delicious Rhone-style wine is a perfect blend of grenache, syrah, and mourvèdre. It offers an elegant flavor with dark ripe fruit and hints of anise spice and leather. It will pair very well with turkey and all the fixings.
Eberle 2016 Cotes-Du-Robles – $30
This medium-bodied wine captures aromas of dried cherries, cranberries, and forest floor, while the palate is filled with ripe strawberry and rhubarb compote wrapped up in rustic tannins. Gary Eberle calls this the perfect bistro wine as it pairs so well with home-style French cooking or slow-cooked foods and stews. Perfect pairings include lamb meatballs simmered in a spiced tomato sauce, charcuterie, or deliciously rich duck cassoulet.
Opolo 2016 Grande Rouge – $22
A playful blend of Counoise, Syrah and Grenache, the Grand Rouge has a burst of bountiful berries, red raspberry, bing cherry and a touch of sandalwood. Leading into a lively acidity framed by dried cranberry, this crowd-pleaser will leave your taste buds with smooth elderberry and limestone minerality.
Pomar Junction 2013 Syrah – $40
This 100-percent syrah is an exciting representation of Rhone wines grown in Paso Robles. Spice, fruit, and smokiness make this wine varietally characteristic and noteworthy. This wine’s intense flavors and supple tannins pair naturally with rich meats such as rosemary garlic rack of lamb, roasted duck with grilled vegetables or a hearty beef stew.
Riverstar Vineyard 2016 Syrah – $32
This wine starts off with a hint of tobacco then subtly turns to full-bodied dark berry flavors. Interestingly, tobacco remains in the nose with each sip. The Riverstar 2016 Syrah is an intriguing wine that stands on its own while enjoying a glass in front of a winter fire or with grilled vegetables or thick stew and crusty bread.
Robert Hall 2016 Cavern Select Syrah – $45
This vintage has aromas of blackberry preserves, fresh pastry, and sweet tobacco. It offers flavors of camphor, cardamom, and cured meats on the mid-palate. It has a balanced acidity with tannins on the finish.
Vina Robles 2015 Terra Bella Syrah – $54
The grapes for this wine were hand-picked from the Terra Bella Vineyard in the Adelaida District AVA. The deep garnet syrah offers aromas of blackberries and dried fig. The full-bodied wine delivers dark red berry fruits with a smooth and structured finish.
Best local dessert wines
Asuncion Ridge 2013 Voluptuous – $25
This late harvest sauvignon blanc is the perfect ending for any holiday dinner. It is slightly sweet, but not syrupy. This dessert wine will rock your fruit tarts, peach cobbler, cheesecake with mandarin sauce or any fruit and cheese plate. Only 49 cases produced.
Brecon Estate 2015 Late Harvest Zinfandel – $30
Brecon has deftly managed to retain the zinfandels signature pepper and spice in this luscious dessert wine.
Bushong Sweet Illusions – $31
A triple cream sherry with flavors of brown sugar, caramel, gingerbread and pecan pie will coat your pallet and make you forget about dessert.
Cass 2013 Syrah Dessert Wine – $44
This is a luxurious dessert with warm notes of dried raspberries, orange liqueur and cinnamon. It has a sticky palate rich with fruit and spice. A perfect dessert by itself. It has 19.2 percent alcohol.
Pomar Junction 2013 Amber Moonlight – $20
This delightful dessert wine made from last harvest viognier is sweet but not overly syrupy. It’s sweetness comes from its own residual sugar. It’s 15.1-percent alcohol. It will pair nicely with pumpkin pie and other desserts.
Riverstar 2013 Solara –$20
A fortified dessert wine made from 100-percent black monukka. It has flavors of raisin and sherry on the nose with notes of caramel, walnuts and honey.Victor Hugo 2014 Quasi – $32
This lighter-style late harvest zinfandel is packed with flavors of stewed strawberries and raspberries. It’s sweet, but pleasantly not syrupy. It will make a perfect dessert by itself or pair with anything chocolate. A cheese pairing would work will too.
Vina Robles 2012 Segredo – $35
Segredo is a limited-production, fortified red dessert wine inspired by traditional ports. The “secret” is the use of petite sirah which lends itself to producing age-worthy wines with layers of richness. Aged for 20 months in French and American oak barrels, Segredo is the perfect dessert wine or can be enjoyed together with chocolate, cheese or nuts.
Wild Coyote 2016 Zinfandel Port – $45
This delicious zin port is fortified with house-made brandy. Its aged in barrels for 36 months to delivered a balanced flavor – not too sweet and syrupy, but loaded with flavors of plum and black cherry.