If Paso Robles is ever going to be known for anything, it's probably going to be the Rhone varieties. Amazingly, Paso Robles has somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 wineries now. Unfortunately, in that same neighborhood live only about fifteen winemakers who know what they're doing. The last time I visited Paso Robles, which was just a few months ago, it was an amazing experience. I can't remember ever tasting so many horrible Cabernet/Syrah blends in one place, unless you count Trader Joe's. My tongue still hasn't forgiven me. Both forks. In Paso Robles they've somehow managed to find a way to take the least appealing part of Cabernet Sauvignon and magically blend it with the ugliest part of Syrah to make the wine equivalent of an Ann Coulter/Glenn Beck love child. Ugly and loud, but at least it's stupid. Now don't get me wrong, I think Paso Robles has enormous potential. It just seems to be plagued with too many amateur winemakers. I say that because the folks who do make stunning wines in Paso Robles--Saxum, Linne Calodo, Tablas Creek, Lone Madrone, Villa Creek and Denner, among others--prove the appellation's quality. But there seem to be another 185 wineries trying to prove them wrong. Denner is a winery that is still just finding its stride. It sells a lot of its fruit to folks like Saxum and Linne Calodo, and then tries to imitate their style with their own wine. Mostly, it works. But along with those guys they are defining a style in Paso Robles for Syrahs that is ripe and gooey and nearly Aussie in their exaggerated swagger. There's a point where Syrah goes from blackberry to Oreo cookie, and Denner is walking that tightrope. But the 2007 is pretty good. Avoid it like a Jehovah's Witness if you love the wines of the Northern Rhone, it's nowhere near Hermitage as the Croze flies. But if intense flavors of blackberry and wild cherry make you happy, and you like gooey in your wine, albeit gooey with decent acidity to hold it together, and you like a wine with the persistence of and Erin Andrews stalker, this is your kind of Syrah.
The HoseMaster Score 543,421 Points
Disclaimer: I swear, I've never even seen my own peephole much less Erin Andrews'.
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
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