Touring wine country looking for your perfect bottle of wine, you taste a lot of bottom-of-the-barrel wine. Or, as we say, you must kiss a lot of ugly frogs before you find your beautiful prince or princess.
In all of our wine tasting, we’ve only found two wineries creating an entire flight of wine satisfying us, where they’re creating beautiful wines up and down their list.
On a recent trip to Paso Robles, we found our third winery with sumptuous, tasty wines throughout their menu.
Calcareous Winery, perched high atop Paso’s western mountains with a 20 mile view overlooking Paso Robles, provides an entire flight of wine to which we give ✰+ ranking.
‘…we’ll call this the new local trend in wine making, partially aging wine in concrete or terra cotta.’
This winery was established in 2000 producing Rhône style varietals and Zinfandel. Lloyd Messer and his daughter Dana Brown started the winery on 342 acres of mountain canyons. It’s located on Peachy Canyon Road (take 6th St., West out of Paso Robles and make a left at the graveyard where it turns into Pacific, then Peachy Canyon.)
Their goal was capitalizing on the limestone soil (calcareous in Italian) while taking advantage of large diurnal temperature swings occurring when fog meanders up Templeton gap from the Pacific Ocean for cold evenings. When this moist fog retreats, the long hot days of the growing season provide the temperature swings perfect for wine grape. These conditions make Western Paso Robles a highly sought location for farming.
Lloyd Messer passed away in 2006, his boots enshrined in bronze out front. His daughters Dana and Erika continue their father’s work and named the tasting room Lloyd’s Lookout in his honor.
The wine is distinct, savory and full of earth and terra cotta. In fact, we’ll call this the new local trend in wine making, partially aging wine in concrete or terra cotta. It’s common through the ages, throughout the world. Now Denner is serving Ditch Digger wine with concrete stored juice, and Clesi in Templeton is aging wine in terra cotta urns in the old Italian way. This technique called Amphorea adds a very distinctive bite to the wine, rendering it drier.
At Calcareous, every wine in the flight deserves attention. What did we taste? Here goes:
2012 Pinot Noir York Mountain (spicy & substantial) $32 ✰+
2011 Calcareous Moose (blend of Syrah & Petit Verdot, dry, peppery) $48 ✰+
2012 Zinfandel $40 (we brought this home) ✰+
2011 Lloyd (New release with a light pepper feel, more fruit and a great finish. Made with Merlot, Cabernet Sovignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc & Malbec.) $50 ✰+
We didn’t have much time to spend at this winery, as we had an appointment at Denner. But we heard so much about Calcareous and this little section of the west side, we knew we had to visit. And it’s a good thing we did.
We know much about the Paso Robles area and sometimes think we have explored it all. But this visit showed us distinct areas within the AVA still await exploration. There are other wineries scattered throughout this area we’ll need to explore and compare to Calcareous. There is so much to see and do.
Bill Hodge & Erin O’Neill-Hodge enjoy a good bottle of wine, visiting and enjoying California wineries from Lake County to Orange County, from the Paso Robles Gold Coast to Gold Country and from Lodi to Temecula.
Some notes on our wine ranking system.
– -✰ means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰ means -Not liking it too much
✰ means -We’ll drink this wine, especially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰++ means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+ with a slash, it means we disagree.