★ ★ ★Exceptional ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
Wines from Paso Robles are not shy. The best of them combine richness and power with elegance and sleekness. The region’s pioneers, such as Gary Eberle, emphasized cabernet sauvignon, but Paso has earned a reputation in recent years for Rhone Valley varieties such as viognier, roussanne and the trendy grenache blanc among whites, and grenache, syrah and mourvedre among reds. Creativity abounds.
★ ★ ★
Paso Robles, Calif., $22
A beautiful wine, it is supple and complex with rich blackberry fruit and some minerally graphite, tea and olive flavors. Bravo! Only 100 cases available in the Washington area. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent.
Free Run: Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Wine Merchant in Lutherville. Available in Virginia at Clifton Wine Shop in Clifton, Vino Market in Midlothian.
★ ★ ★
Paso Robles, $40
This blend of grenache, syrah, counoise and mourvedre is a New World rendition of a classic southern Rhone red, riper than the French version, yet with the savory lavender, sage and thyme flavors Rhône fiends call “garrigue.” I recommend any wine by Tablas Creek, but this one is outstanding. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Country Vintner in Virginia: Available in the District at Dean & DeLuca; on the list at Charlie Palmer Steak, Red Apron. Available in Maryland at State Line Liquors in Elkton, the Wine Harvest in Potomac, Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at Lewnes’ Steak House in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Total Wine & More (Alexandria, Fairfax, Springfield); on the list at America Eats in Tysons Corner; Brabo, Evening Star Cafe, Restaurant Eve in Alexandria.
★ ★ ★
Paso Robles, $20
Opulent and enticing with jasmine, peach and tangerine flavors, a touch of citrus and a velvety texture that doesn’t quit. Quite ripe, but it doesn’t taste hot. ABV: 15.1 percent.
Nice Legs: Available in the District at Chat’s Liquors. Available in Virginia at Oakton Wine Shop in Oakton; Wine Cabinet in Reston; Wine House in Fairfax; on the list at Brabo in Alexandria; Parallel Wine Bistro in Ashburn.
Paso Robles, $22
Many U.S. wineries feature “Tablas clones” — Rhône grape varieties grown from cuttings obtained from Tablas Creek’s nursery. Tablas was responsible for promoting grenache blanc, which has become a trendy grape among California’s “Rhône Rangers.” It dominates this blend, backed up by viognier, roussanne and marsanne. Think white flowers, talc and chalky minerals. I tasted the 2014 at the winery; the District and Maryland distributor has just switched vintages, so some of these stores may still have the 2013. ABV: 13.3 percent.
Bacchus in the District and Maryland, Country Vintner in Virginia: Available in the District at Bell Wine & Spirits, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Whole Foods Market (Tenleytown); on the list at Birch & Barley, Central Michel Richard, Charlie Palmer Steak, Melrose, Zentan. Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits, Urban Cellars in Baltimore; Pine Orchard Liquors in Ellicott City; State Line Liquors in Elkton; on the list at Republic in Takoma Park; Severn Inn in Annapolis. Available in Virginia at Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna; Society Fair in Alexandria; on the list at America Eats in Tysons Corner, Brabo in Alexandria.
Paso Robles, $11 (500-milliliter cans)
The Fiction Red is also available in traditional bottles, but the cans are too much fun to pass up. This blend of zinfandel, tempranillo, mourvedre, grenache, syrah and touriga is quite good with dried fruit flavors dusted with earth. Give it a slight chill and enjoy it with burgers or steaks from the grill. Field Recordings also makes a delicious rosé in cans called Alloy. ABV: 14.9 percent.
Free Run: Available in the District at DCanter, De Vinos, D’Vines. Available in Virginia at Clifton Wine Shop in Clifton, Grape + Bean in Alexandria; Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna; Vino Market in Midlothian.
Paso Robles, Calif., $20
This is Gary Eberle’s “table wine,” a non-vintage red blend of whatever wines don’t go into his other bottlings. “I came to Paso to make cabernet, but my problem is I fall in love with anything I taste,” Eberle says. This is a fun wine to fall in love with. Who cares what grapes are in it? ABV: 13.9 percent.
Virginia Imports in Virginia: Available in Virginia at Planet Wines in Alexandria; on the list at IJ Canns American Grille in Purcellville and Winchester.