Tag Archives: Peachy Canyon

When Should You Open That Bottle?

One of the biggest questions with wine is How long to let the wine age? There are some rules of thumb, or maybe they’re more in the realm of urban legend. Such as drinking whites right away, and letting most red wines age for a couple of years, and letting Cabernet Sauvignon age for at least 10 years.

What happens when wine ages? From a technical perspective, a bit of oxygen sneaks in through the cork, and then CHEMISTRY happens. From a taste perspective, this can have the effect of softening some of the bolder, fruit flavors that are more typical of a younger wine. In the best cases, when this really works, softening the big fruit flavors allows more subtlety, more complexity to express itself in the wine. In other cases, that complexity is not there to begin with, and and when the fruit flavors soften the wine just tastes a bit flat. And even with the wines that will age, there does come a point when it’s aged too much, and the wine loses its balance between fruit, acid, aroma etc.

Also, to be clear, there are a lot of wines, probably the majority of wines made, that are meant to be consumed within the first couple of years after harvest and bottling. Moreover, screw cap closures are helping wines maintain that fresh, fruity, just-bottled taste by not letting any oxygen into the bottle, so chemistry is not happening with those bottles.

For those wines that you’re thinking about buying and aging, the advice from the wine industry is to buy a case and drink a bottle every so often – every year, or two years, or whatever seems to make sense – so that you can understand how the wine is aging and make sure to drink as much of the case as possible as near to the peak of the wine as possible. Well, that simply isn’t practical for most of us, including Lori and I. The cost, and the storage capacity, just aren’t reasonable.

My first rule of thumb is never buy wine to age from a winery that I’m not familiar with. You could view this as a chicken and egg problem: how to figure out if their wine ages well if you can’t buy a bottle? Typically wineries make a variety of wines, and not all of them are meant to age. If you like the style of the winery/winemaker, go ahead and take a chance on some wine to lay down for a few years. Second, taste the wine you’re interested in investing in. If you don’t like it now, it’s unlikely to taste that much better to you to justify your investment.

As to when to open a bottle, if you can buy more than one, you could get some idea of how it’s aging as you go. However, if you’re making an investment in this wine, the thing to do is to open it for either a special occasion, or with friends and family that will appreciate the wine. Hopefully those two conditions have significant overlap. We’ve had that happen recently, and have opened some older bottles. Here are some tasting notes:

Peachy Canyon 2004 Old School House Zinfandel in the decanter.

Peachy Canyon 2004 Old School House Zinfandel in the decanter.

2004 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel, Old School House Vineyard, Paso Robles: One thing that happens with older wines is that they can collect sediment; various things coming together and crystallizing in the wine. More oxygen also helps the wine. And decanters make serving the wine more elegant. So decant your older wines. As far as Zinfandel not aging well, it’s a good rule of thumb, as most Zins aren’t built to age well. This one was built that way, and was delicious at the 10 year point. Probably doesn’t have much longer to age. But excellent a few weeks ago.

2004 Soquel Vineyards Zinfandel, Schmierer Vineyard, California: The winery is in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but these grapes are from a vineyard in Lodi, and this vineyard is more than 100 years old. Normally I wouldn’t expect a Lodi Zin to age well – Lodi Zins can be great when young – but in the hands of a really good winemaker, this wine has done just as well as the Peachy Canyon Zin.

2001 Archery Summit Winery Pinot Noir, Archery Summit Estate Cuvée, Oregon: Good Pinot Noir, like good French Burgandy, does age well. This bottle was a bit over the hill; not bad, but not what we hoped for.

2004 Goldeneye Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley: Very nice bottle of wine, with still a lot of fruit flavor up front. Will at least hold on for another few years at this level, and maybe get a bit better.

2010 Armida Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley: Sauvignon Blanc is usually built to drink now. However, some of the best Sauvignon Blanc – French white Bordeaux, or wines from the Loire region – will age nicely. This wine started its life as an excellent Sauvignon Blanc, with big fruit flavors, crisp texture from good acids, great nose. We’ve opened a couple of bottles in the last few months, and it’s even better now. The big fruit has been toned down, the balance of the wine is better, and the real quality of the grapes is coming through. I wouldn’t recommend aging most Sauvignon Blanc, and really this was not done purposefully on our part (too many other Sauv Blancs to drink kept these from being opened), but what a great accident!



Wine Tasting in Paso Robles

Last weekend was a special weekend.  We celebrated my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday.  My husband Larry, and his father Al, spent a number of months consulting and doing research as to where this event would take place.  Half of the family lives in Southern California and the other half lives in Northern California.  So, the final plan was to meet in Pismo Beach, which is just about half way in between.


Some of us started this weekend by meeting in Edna Valley on Friday afternoon where we went wine tasting.  Larry is going to write a blog about that so all I’ll say is that we went to two entirely different wineries with totally different tasting experiences.  Both nice.  After wine tasting we went and checked into the Seacrest Hotel.  Then we all met at the Chinese Restaurant Mei’s.  They had 2 large tables all set up for us, as there were 21 of us including our 3 grandchildren.  The four generations sat down and started the gift of gab.

Throughout the weekend the family did different things during the daytime within our individual families like 4-wheeling in the dunes, or walking around the Cal Poly campus or taking a stroll along the Pismo pier and having clam chowder.  Larry and I just went down to the beach with our children and enjoyed watching our 3-year-old granddaughter run in and out of the ocean and play in the sand.  The two little ones, 5 months and 2 1/2 months, stayed close to their parents. 


We met up again for dinner on Saturday night, this time up in Avila Beach at a restaurant called the Custom House.  It was very nice.  We sat outside and had steak or fish for dinner.  Some of us brought a bottle of wine that we had brought from home and some had purchased mixed drinks.  It was a lovely night, we sang happy birthday to the birthday girl and gave her presents and cards.


The next day was spent mostly by the pool.  Elliana, our 3-year-old granddaughter was in the pool 2 separate times.  She had a blast.  The more time she spends in the pool the braver she gets.  Our sons Brandon and Jacob went to play tennis with their younger cousins Alex and Daniel.  They have been trying to do this for years.  Larry’s sister’s family left before dinner.  The rest of us went to Steamers.  We had a nice dinner and especially enjoyed watching the dolphins swimming in the ocean.  We were looking for whales as Brandon had seen some from his hotel room earlier that afternoon.  But no luck for us.  After dinner Larry’s brother and family left to go back home.  So that just left our family with Larry’s parents.  We were down to just 11 of us.


The next morning after hugs and kisses we separated from the in-laws and started to head north.  We treated our kids to a nice breakfast in San Luis Obispo called Big Sky.  We had some good grub.  From there we went to Paso Robles and all went to Peachy Canyon Winery. 

            Peachy Canyon tasting room at the Old School House

This is where Brandon and Kim used to work and got married seven years ago. Their grounds are perfect for picnicking and running around and have gorgeous views of their vineyards.  After walking around the beautiful grounds we went into the tasting room and did some tasting.  We had a great experience.  The tasting room is full of nice items to purchase.  They have a refrigerator with a few picnic items in it.   We started off tasting their Chardonnay and Rosé.  Then we tasted a number of their Zinfandels and a couple red blends.  They are known for their Zins.  We all bought a couple bottles of wine before leaving there.


From there Brandon and family and Jacob and family left to drive back home since they still had a 5-hour drive.  Larry and I continued to go wine tasting while we were in Paso Robles.  The next winery we went to was Calcareous. 

                          Beautiful views from Calcareous Winery

It is way up Peachy Canyon Road.  They have a beautiful tasting room and a very large outdoor area with beautiful views of the valley and quite a number of tables and chairs to have an amazing picnic.  For a $10.00 tasting fee we tasted 5 of their wines from a 2012 Lily Blanc to a 2012 Vin Gris of Malbec to a 2009 Grenache-Mourvedre to a 2010 Tres Violet which is their signature wine and finally a 2010 Lloyd Bordeaux blend.  Our favorite was the Tres Violet, which is a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache.  Anna was the one pouring for us.  She was very nice and informative.  They produce about 10,000 cases with two labels.  The tasting room opened in 2007 and their first harvest was in 2006.  Going back to the outdoor area, they have a pizza oven; bocce ball courts and they sell picnic supplies in the tasting room.  Their supplies are limited to salamis and cheeses.  I would bring my own picnic lunch next time I went there.  They have a nice selection of books, garments and other goodies for sale in their tasting room.  It’s a great place for kids to run around.


The next winery we went to was just up the road about a mile.  It is called Minassian Young Vineyards(MYV). 

                The tasting room at MYV and their wine making facility

This tasting room and property were so different from Calcareous.  The winery and tasting room are on the same property.  They produce about 5,000 cases and have about 5 acres of grapes right there at the tasting room.  They use about 5% of their estate grapes in their wine.  Allison was the one pouring for us and her 8-month-old son Wyatt was wrapped up and on her back the whole time.  They have a pizza oven outside, but not much room for sitting and picnicking.  They didn’t charge for tasting.


We shared a tasting of 2010 White, which is a Roussanne and Grenache Blanc blend, a 2011 Field Blend which is Mourvedre and Grenache Blanc, a 2009 Mourvedre, a 2010 Estate Syrah, a 2010 Estate Zinfandel and a 2008 Cabernet.  We bought a bottle of their Estate Syrah.  We enjoyed the wine tasting experience.  They didn’t have any music playing but their views of their vineyards and others across the canyon were just beautiful.  No dogs are allowed as they have a couple that like to greet you when you arrive.  Their tasting room opened in 2005 and all their fruit is dry farmed.


We then drove back down Peachy Canyon Road through downtown and went out to Hwy 46 heading east and we found Derby Wine Estates. 

                      View of Derby tasting room and water feature

They have a few tables out in front for picnicking, but they are right on the highway so it is a little bit noisy.  They have a cute tasting room and Victoria and Seth took care of our tasting needs.  They produce 2,000 cases of wine, which is even smaller than MYV.  They have a nice selection of items for sale in their tasting room.  We started off our tasting with a 2010 Pinto Gris, which we really enjoyed.  Then went to their 2010 Fifteen Ten White Rhone, which is a blend of four different grapes.  Then we had the 2009 Fifteen Ten Red Rhone, which is a blend of four grapes.  We then tried their 2010 Pinot Noir and their 2007 Pinot Noir.  After that we sampled the 2007 Implico, which is a Cabernet blend, then the 2009 Syrah and finally their 2009 Petite Sirah.  We left there buying a bottle of their Pinot Gris, the White Rhone and the Red Rhone.  We had another great tasting experience.  They have a $10.00 tasting fee.

It had been many years since we had been to Paso Robles.  It is always enjoyable going there.  We went out to lunch in the square at Basil Thai and remember that restaurant as always being consistently good.  I would highly recommend going to Paso Robles for their wine tasting.  We will go back someday in the not so distant future.