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Paso Robles Uncorked: Old 900 Syrah Takes Flight at Alta Colina

More than anything else the sensation is one of perfect peace mingled with an excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost, if you can conceive of such a combination. ~Wilbur Wright I love this quote, imagination is the beginning of making dreams become reality.

Wilbur got it right finding peace while straining every nerve, can be exhilarating and while winemaking [even for the flying-winemaker] is not quite the same thing as flying a B-29 Super Fortress over enemy territory [a plane Bob Tillman’s dad flew-in during World War II]. Yet there is the thrill, coupled with the strain of bringing in the harvest and seeing it through to the bottling stage and then finally releasing the finished product to the consumer, giving way to that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. To get a full sense of the story you could check out Tom Plant's review of the same winery, he really goes into some detail.

I think it was my third day on the Paso Wine-Scene, when I noticed a winery on twitter that was following my tweets, conversations ensued, which caused me to become curious about their brand. So I did a little checking into Alta Colina's website, seeing their great selection of Rhone varietals, I begged, no I say pleaded for an appointment from Maggie [it was suppose to be her day away from the tasting room], the winemakers daughter. She gracefully accepted our request, and yes the lovely Mrs. Cuvee would be joining me on this final adventure on the Paso's lovely west-side [I say final, because by the 4th day I was ready to tap-out]. Especially in light of having just returned from an eight day Umbrian Wine adventure.

I want to say also that Maggie; wonderfully handles Alta Colina's social media activities [twitter handle: @AltaColina], one of her many other hats she wears. It's also funny to note; that we could see her winery from one of my other favorite 'new' wineries in Paso Robles, which is Daou which sits atop one of the highest elevations in Paso. On the tour of Alta Colina, a nearly hidden, remarkly tucked away vineyard, we could also see from their very high hill, Daou off in the distance and Calcareous another of my favorites.

Arriving a bit early for our appoinment; we were greeted by "Buddy" the winery dog from Villacana, who was very happy we had stopped by. Mrs. Cuvee wanted to give Buddy a snack, but I said "hey no way, we don't let our dogs have human food, so lets not start with someone elses dog" even if he did look really hungry.

Truth be told; the west-side is our favorite area in Paso Robles, we've always enjoyed wines produced from west-side fruit so much more than other. Even the very first time we slurped and swirled our way across the purple paved landscape, stumling into eastside tasting rooms, we realized nothing really tickled our fancy [even with a really big feather]. We did later find out, that we have exceptions to the rule [hello RN Estate], but for the most part, to Mrs. Cuvee and I the west is best.

I really enjoyed all the wines in their line-up but having to be modest in our choices, since the back of the wine-wagon was nearly full and our budget was pretty much blown, we plucked down some plastic and took home 2010 Late Harvest Viognier, 2009 GSM and begged for the soon to be released "old 900" the star of the show in my estimation.

The "Old 900" Syrah, as it is called, really took off for me almost immediately. After the first splash down, whoa a glass-coating opaque purple/garnet driven core. On the nose and bounding up easily from the rim, it delivers a brooding bouquet of sweet-smoke and unsweetened licorice and lighter notes of dark fruits. Okay now it’s time for the first slurp, a bouquet of lavender, a subtle gamey note, playing nicely together with ripe dark plums and rich blackberry, painted nicely on smooth tannin canvas. Some may look at the ABV and think oh no way, but if you tasted it blind, you’d be very surprised.


This is a big, dense, layered Syrah, yet it manages to maintain a sense of elegance and balance. There is enough structure under the hood, to evolve for several years and should continue to drink well over the next five to ten years. I wanted more of this wine, but was over-ruled [sigh]. I’m giving this wine a score of 91 points and recommend it to you highly, a fine representation of why Paso is quickly becoming the Rhone Zone. Frankly, I really enjoyed the entire line-up and would really recommend the nearly 100% Grenache as well. If you find yourself in the area, please stop into the tasting room, or make an appointment and tell Maggie we said hello! Okay folks, that’s all I have for you today, until next time, may your glass always be full, sip long and prosper!

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