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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rhone Zone: Halter Ranch Côtes de Paso Blanc

“I've long believed that good food, good eating, [and may I add good drinking] is all about risk. Whether we're talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime 'associates,' food, for me, has always been an adventure”  ― Anthony Bourdain

Thank you Mr. Bourdain for that wonderful bit of inspiration, like Anthony need, no I say desire for food adventures. I also have bit with wine-adventure bug, I have 
developed a need for constant exploration when it comes to wine, I mean there are so many different grape varieties in the viniferous world in which I live, I dare say I may not have enough time left on this mortal coil to give them all a swirl.

But with my last trip to Italy [a country with hundreds of different varietals] firmly tucked under my now bulging belt, and having checked with the "Wine Varietal Scoreboard" it looks like I may have racked-up nearly 20 new grapes in one fell swoop. I had the chance to swirl and slurp wines produced from grapes like, Grechetto, Falanghina, Malvasia del Lazio, Malvasia Nera, Aglianico from Taurasi, Sagrantino from Montefalco to name a few. And big thanks to my new friends from Croatia [of whom I look forward to visiting next year] who were on hand to let us swirl, slurp and gulp new-to-me grapes like; Graševina, Plavac Mali and Pošip. But like our fearless leader in Washington, I won't spike the football just yet, as I'm still in the first quarter.

Almost immediately after I returned from Italy it was time to pack up my wine-wagon, repack my weary luggage and head up the coast from San Diego to yet another wonderful wine destination known as Paso Robles [a short 4-5 hour drive]. Once a well known area for Zinfandel [and in some cases it still is], it's now fast becoming a term I may have coined; called the Rhone-Zone. With that said, I recently unscrewed [I know not the same ring] wine from great little west-side winery called Halter Ranch.

The wine in today's review spot-light is their 2008 Côtes de Paso Blanc. A wine I really didn't think too much of at the time, it was Mrs. Cuvee that insisted that we secure this one bottle to take home and like the good-husband [wink] I gave in, knowing this was not a hill I wanted to die on. It wasn't that I didn't like it, I just thought spending $24 bucks for a drink now and drink often style of wine was a bit more than I wanted to pay. So I socked this wine away in the pantry, where it sat for two years, before chilling and cracking it open just last night. As you may have surmised already, I scored this wonderful yet typical Rhone blend, with Roussane leading the way at 64%, followed by Marsanne at 12% and Viognier bringing up the rear with 4%, on my last trip to Paso Robles for the Passport Weekend.

In the glass this stainless steel tank and oak barrel fermented Rhone blend had a strong straw colored presence, leaning remarkably toward gold. On the palate this wine displayed a nice slap of quince, wet-stone, a pinch of citrus, abundant honeysuckle, and nice dusting of a meaty ripe white peach and crisp apples. Wow, beautiful fruit from the tail to tip, zippy acidity keeping things fresh inviting sip after sip, medium body, all wrapped up in a pretty bow, making for a zesty, personality-filled dry-white that sings a riveting mouth-watering note. My score for this wine is 91 points, a score I would not have given w/o this much bottle age. But that said I'm presently looking for more and I fear that I'm too late to secure a few more bottles [sigh].

It's great to be back in the saddle again, writing, catching up on all my notes and getting things back in order around here. Thanks so much for sticking with me during the couple weeks, I've been out exploring, so that I can bring new and exciting wine-finds to a palate near you. Until next time folks, continue to sip long and prosper, cheers!
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