casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 44: Reunited and It Tastes So Good . . .

The  best thing about being reunited with old friends is the feeling of comfort knowing that you’re back where you belong.  Five years ago when we ventured to Paso Robles for the first time, we enjoyed some wines from RN Estate wines.  Now, to completely understand our tasting and story of RN Wines, you have to understand that these wines are not commercially available.  First, you must make an appointment with the owner, Roger Nicolas, and second you must be on time for said appointment!  Five years ag o. . . thanks to Rebecca, who used to work at Peachy Canyon, we had that appointment with the owner, Roger Nicolas.  However, five years ago, we were NOT on time for the appointment and to this day, we remember the “tongue lashing” we received from Roger about being on time and having to catch up with the others in the tasting.  Of course, five years ago it all ended up for the better because we enjoyed some amazing wines and learned A LOT about the wines he made by hand.  It was, in short, an education in wine and life!  On top of the wines, when you taste wines from a winemaker’s home, you are literally coming into his space and are subject to his environment.  Five years ago, Jean was sitting at Roger’s dining room table that looked out over beautiful vineyards and rolling hills and felt a hot breath on her face which was followed by a lick on the face from Diego!  To imagine this picture, think of sitting in a chair and having a large dog looking at you face to face as you sit there.  Diego was (is) Roger’s Great Dane and he was definitely more than just a house dog . . . HE was the ‘announcer’ of all people coming to Roger’s house!

Fast forward to today and we have revisited RN Estate, Roger greeted us outside the house as we arrived EARLY for our 11 a.m. tasting.  Of course, the barking from the courtyard came not only from Diego who was still a part of Roger’s clan but also a 14 month old “puppy” Great Dane who was still learning the “social graces” of being a dog!  You have to love that if you love dogs!!  We never did get to meet the “puppy” but heard from him early and often as he barked every time the wind blew a leaf in the wrong direction!!!

Today’s wines from RN Estate were nothing short of spectacular.  We tasted two different Pinot Noirs that Roger has crafted and with different grapes from different parts of Paso Robles, it is truly amazing how they can be so incredibly different.  Both tasty, the one from totally, Paso Robles fruit was AMAZING!  This led him to tastings of his blends which are masterfully made by hand with primarily Paso Robles fruit.  You can taste in each of his wines and “old world” style that is counter to today’s “bigger is bolder” style of wine making.  As a Frenchman, Roger has the lineage to not only talk the talk but walk the walk.  His wines are designed to fit with food and food fit with his wines, and it was obvious from our tasting that the care and nurturing that it takes to make great wine has come through loud and clear with his latest vintages!  We were not just impressed and  excited, but we anxiously wanted to  add his wines to our list of favorites  . . .  which we DID!

Finding Roger’s wines isn’t easy.  When and if you can get a hold of them – lay them down for at least six months or longer.  Because he makes his wines in the Rhone and Bordeaux tradition, these wines have a life of five to ten years beyond today.  Wines like his are meant to be enjoyed today, tomorrow and in the future.  These wines feature a lot of fruit on the nose and a lot of structure on the taste.  You get amazing scents and tastes even without food, but the mind plays tricks on you because the thought of a rack of lamb or smoked pork loin are on your mind as you sample this delicious wine.

We have gathered and continue to gather GREAT stories on this trip from people and wines we’ve met and tried.  Roger is but one of a huge number of people that make a trip to Paso Robles a MUST DO for any wine afecionado.  We’ll continue to share these stories with you and your job is to continue enjoying our stories.

We also made a trip down memory line by visiting Preachy Canyon and Castoro Cellars (where they make Dam Fine Wine – we blogged about Zinfusion on Day Three).  In addition we made some new friends at Ben Hogan (yes, you can even hit a bucket of balls while tasting wine!!), Croad and  L”Adventure.  The crazy part is that you can visit as many, or as few wineries as you want in a given day.  As they say, “so much wine, too little time”.

So. . .please enjoy that bottle of wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!

Dam Fine Wine

Angela and Jimbo make our return trip to Castoro Cellars a wonderful experience.

With grapes like this, you know the wine has to be GREAT!

Shout Out to Lea at Ben Hogan Winery



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Day 43 — Make New Friends, But Keep the Old.

As a Girl Scout, Jean was reminded many times of the creed made famous by girls in green – “Make New Friends, But Keep the Old – One is Silver and the Other Gold”.  Those words about sums up our day today – and what a beautiful day it was.  We were greeted by a blue sky and lots of sunshine as we embarked on Day One of  our visit to the Central Coast wine area.  Given the fact there are six of us, the car was packed to the roof and we bore a striking resemblance to the Clampett’s – not saying who was Granny, Uncle Jed, Jethro, Ellie Mae, Mr. Drysdale or Miss Jane Hathaway – but you get the visual.  Anyway, we headed south.

We started our day at Hahn Winery and it seemed that we would be the only people who showed up!  The tasting room opened at 11 a.m. and we were there by 10:59 a.m.  But, as they say, the early bird catches the worm . . . now, if you’ve read these blogs previously, you’ll remember that back at the beginning of the month, we wrote about a wine from Hahn, so the opportunity of visiting and learning about their wines was an excellent way to get our day started.

Our host, David proceeded to give us the biggest and best tasting we could imagine from the long and varied wine list.  He made certain that we each had a taste of each of the wonderful delights Hahn had to offer.  We sampled several wines, so it’s hard to determine which one was the best.  In the course of the tasting, David mentioned a special Saturday lunch featuring a tapas menu paired with Hahn wines and since it was already getting close to lunch time, we figured it was worth the time to stay. . . the food, the beautiful day and of course, the wine.  The first tapas item prepared elegantly by Chef Brian was locally-grown vegetables chopped and wrapped in a philo dough and then slow roasted to perfection paired with the 2011 Hahn Chardonnay.  The wine was absolutely the star of the dish–very smooth, and not buttery like a lot of chardonnays, this one actually had a ‘baked apple pie’ finish and it was a marvelous accompaniment to the food.  Next up was a salmon roll wrapped in a daikon radish and topped with a puree’ of cauliflower and paired with their 2010 Chef’s Table Pinot Noir.  It was equally fabulous; although we agreed that the food outshone the wine on this course.  The pinot was very fruity and much more full-bodied than we have had in the past, but it was the smoky finish that surprised us.  This led to our final course of beef tenderloin grilled (medium rare) and served on a bed of barley roasted with a balsamic reduction and paired with their signature 2010 Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon.  The food was outstanding and the wine. . .well, the wine was the perfect combination and something you’d expect for this type of pairing.  It was a big cab; very smooth – almost like velvet but clearly a winner.

Of course, when you have six people in your group, the conversation can get loud and a bit boisterous, and usually people around a group like this gets to overhear a lot of comments and laughter.  So it was no surprise that we met a couple who used to live in San Antonio and had been living in the area for a couple of years.  It’s another reason why wine brings people together and is a common denominator for learning more about the winery, the wines, the area and the people!

This visit was followed by a stop at Treana/Hope Wines which provided some excellent tasting for wines we’ll discuss in the future, and a final stop at Red Soles in Paso Robles.  The Red Soles stop gave us an opportunity to meet one of the owners, Randy, who was a blast to talk with and learn from and with a bottle of wine outside among the grapevines, we finished our first day.  We will be detailing our visit to Red Soles at a later date as well.

We were exhausted from running so much and had a lot of fun meeting people and sampling wine (some good and some – not so much), but it reinforces why we enjoy it as much as we do, but always remind ourselves to enjoy our wines responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

Hahn Vineyard

David and Chef Brian at Hahn

Our new friends from San Antonio that now live in CA.


Making new friends at Treana

A good selection at Treana

A tip of the hat to Tiffany and John at Red Soles

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Day 42 – It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over!

It has been a day.  Let’s see, where do we begin.  We embarked on our trip to Paso Robles today getting an early start for an early flight.  One of the things that we weren’t counting on when we made reservations with our friends way back in April was not being on the same flight.  We bought our seats at the exact same time and last night, we found out that the friends were flying out at 6 a.m. and going to Los Angeles and then on to San Francisco.  Our flight was scheduled to fly to Houston and then on to San Francisco.  Frustrating?  You bet, but not the end of the world.

After a short night and an early ride to the airport; we were ready to go by 5:00 a.m. this morning.  They left on time and we left on time.  We got to Houston and immediately looked for the board with departures for our trip to San Francisco.  And, there it was…in red letters – CANCELLED.  The frustration of having completely different flights than our friends just took another turn for the worse.  We stopped at United Airlines customer service and this is when you know that others have bad days too – who didn’t know that the flight had been cancelled.  The options that she was offering us wasn’t sitting well with us (leaving Houston at 6 p.m. just wouldn’t do) and so she offered to put us on a flight to San Jose and offer shuttle service to San Francisco.  At the same time, our other friends in Arlington were dealing with their own nightmare in trying to join us in San Francisco – ending up in Denver before eventually getting to San Francisco.  We did met a couple of neat people in the van on the way between the San Jose and San Francisco airports – best wishes to newlywed’s from Florida – hope you have a wonderful time in Napa and places in between . . . let us hear from you and what wineries you visit.  Our new friend who lives in San Francisco and shared online marketing strategies – thanks for the advice on our blog!

Long story short, we were reunited with both of our friends and began our quest to try a variety of wines during this week.  And once we got our vehicle, we immediately headed south towards Monterrey – what a beautiful drive – photo below won’t even do the beach justice – where we stopped at Bonny Doon Vineyard to try some of their old-world style wines.  The wine for tonight was a 2006 Ca’ del Solo Nebbiolo and what a wine it was!  Lots of dried fruits, nuts and herbs that all yielded an incredible intensity.  The wine is lighter than ones we traditionally try, but it was beautiful with loads of taste and exceptionally smooth on the palate.   We could only imagine how good this wine could be with food!  It was a great sampling to start our California trip.  Lauren was working behind the really cool concrete counter – she reminded us alot of our own daughter #1 – great personality and made our visit an enjoyable one.  (Lauren – will get your photo up in the morning _ trouble with the computer!!)   If we lived in Monterrey we would spend lots of time here – it’s a fun place with a twist on aliens . . .  they even have a Roswell Happy Hour.

Why airlines insist on cancelling flights without notice is beyond us.  We understand when lousy weather dictates cancellations, but that wasn’t the case today.  And when all you hear about from these companies is how great their customer service is, well I think when you catch someone on a bad morning, you wonder if the training is working!  Regardless, our customer service person rallied to help us–ultimately allowing us to be here and enjoy our first sampling.  The day was made complete with a comeback miracle by the St. Louis Cardinals  –  WOW!!!  This turnaround was a great reminder that you never quit and as Yogi Berra said “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.”  Bring on the Giants . . . but first, bring on a pillow – it’s been a long day!

We hope you’ll look for it where you shop and when you buy this 2006 Nebbiolo, please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

Lauren at Bonny Doon – thanks for taking such good care of us!

Reserve Tasting enjoyed by Brian and Mark


Bonny Doon is out of this world!


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