Thursday, April 1, 2010

Estate Cuvée 2006 of l'Aventure

It’s really an adventure, and it all started when vigneron Stephan Asseo left Bordeaux and the strict French appellation system, to find a new place to fulfill his dreams of making wines just as he wanted to. He found the right place in the western, cooler parts of Paso Robles. Today, his vineyard covers 24.25 hectares, only 15 kilometers from the cool ocean, with various soil types and exposures. This is a young venture, vineyards were planted in 1998 thru 2004, and the first wines were made in 1998, back then from bought in grapes. Over the ten years, his vineyards have matured, and from 2008 all wines are estate grown.
Bordelaise grape varieties and Rhône ones, made as separate wines or blended together, is the philosophy here. The only white, Roussanne Estate, which includes 15 percent of Viognier, is one of the most impressive ones in that style in California. The rest of the wine list is also very exciting. The top wine, however, is the Estate Cuvée, and that’s what I had tonight.

2006 Estate Cuvée / 96 p
Talking to Stephan Asseo, you realize that this kind of wine was his reason for leaving Bordeaux. This is a blend of 49 percent of Syrah, 37 percent of Cabernet Sauvignon and 14 percent of Petit Verdot, all fermented in small stainless steel tanks, and then kept in all new French oak barrels for 14-16 months. It’s truly a great wine, dark and very dense with high viscosity, good amounts of glycerol and a warm sensation of the alcohol. Yet it is a very well balanced wine – however, thinking about its body and power, I cannot describe how it can be so "elegant" – with a silky, rich and ripe dark fruit with notes of blackberries, cassis, blueberries and plums. Tannins are huge, but I would call them perfectly ripe and therefore very well integrated in the lovely body, and the aftertaste lingers for a minute or two, at least. Oak is of course present with sweet note of vanilla and hints of chocolate, but within a year or two, there will come more complexity out of this wine – so just wait and see. As all wines of this caliber, this is not filtered, so you will see some very fine sediment in it already today. There is no way to get rid of it by decanting, so I guess you have to accept that. And for me, that’s fine. Also, this is Paso Robles and a great producer, so alcohol is of course very high, 15.9 percent, and therefore the wine should not be served at higher temperatures than 18 degrees.
Drink it 2010-2020.

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