White wines are a staple in many wine lovers’ wine cabinet. The flavorful, crisp, bright white wines from Paso Robles County, CA are some of the best white wines made in the world, and the variety of white wines produced from the same soil, climate and vineyard as the red wines from the region is unparalleled in the wine world.

Paso Robles is known for producing high quality wine and for being very temperate. However, many of its white wines don’t have the characteristic fruity characteristics of their red counterparts. This is because Paso Robles is a very cool place, having an average summer temperature of 70 degrees.

For a long time, people didn’t want to buy white wine. It was a wine that was thought to be for boring, old, wrinkled, pensioners. But things have changed. Now, white wine is the most popular type of wine in the U.S. and many other parts of the world. And with good reason too, as white wine tastes better than red, and is much healthier as well.. Read more about paso robles wine festival 2021 and let us know what you think.

Paso Robles is experiencing a refreshing renaissance of pure, crisp white wines.

Tablas Creek Vineyard, the national conduit for Rhone grapes, is not surprisingly dominated by Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. But also the lesser known Rhone varieties, such as Picpoul Blanc and Clairette Blanche, are experiencing an exciting boom. There are also Albariño, Vermentino, Chenin Blanc and Ugni Blanc varieties that are fresh and intriguing with a rocky minerality.

These wines prove that Paso Robles is no longer limited to great reds.

Let’s face it, says Neil Collins, Tablas Creek’s winemaker since its inception in 1998. A summer evening in Paso Robles offers fresh, complex whites and solid reds.

Rhone roots

For years, Viognier was the leading white grape variety in California’s Rhone, but in the last decade, Grenache Blanc – brighter, fresher and easier to control – has come to the fore.

In 2017, Stanley Barrios, owner and winemaker of Top Winery, chose this grape for his Axis variety, which offers a less alcoholic and spicy contrast to the richer, russet-colored Poise variety.

A demonstration of restraint and power in white wine? Well, that’s interesting.

One of the first white Rhone wines to make a name for itself is the white Picpoul, which Halter Ranch uses in its still and sparkling wines and assemblages.

Since many white Rhone wines lack acidity, the Pippul Blanc is key to a balanced blend, according to winemaker Kevin Sass, who believes it is the least used white Rhone grape in Paso Robles.

Clairette Blanche is an even more recent variety that has appeared on the scene. Since 2017, McPrice Myers has been using grapes from Paper Street Vineyard as a single varietal in his Beautiful Earth white wine blend and as a co-fermenter for red wines with Syrah and Mourvedre.

It’s a very versatile grape, he says.

Sometimes these varieties work best as a team, as with Law Estate’s Sofe, a blend of roussanne, marsanne and clairette blanche that has been in production since 2015.

A demonstration of restraint and power in white wine? Well, that’s interesting. – Stanley Barrios, owner and winemaker, Top Winery

It is bold, powerful and concentrated enough to appeal to most wine drinkers. I only drink red wine, but this one has a lot of finesse and freshness, which makes it lively and refreshing, says winemaker Philipp Pfunder. These whites break stereotypes and shine among their big red brothers and sisters.

TRY

Halter Ranch 2016 Dragonfly Sparkling Picpoul Blanc (Adelaide region); $60, 93 points. One of the only native sparkling Picpoul Blancs, this variety begins with aromas of orange peel, wet clay and a light touch of petrol. Laser sharp, bright and brilliant on the palate, it offers flavors of Asian pear, orange blossom and hints of jasmine. Editorial selection.

Top 2018 Axis Grenache Blanc (Paso Robles); $48, 93 points. One of Paso Robles’ most structured white wines, this Stanley Barrios-designed wine begins with a modest, subtle nose of yucca and honeysuckle flowers. The tightly woven, chewy flavor offers grapefruit zest and Meyer lemon zest and leads to a long, flavorful finish. Editorial selection.

Law 2019 Soph White (Paso Robles); $78, 92 points.Richness and minerality are expertly balanced in this blend of 48% Roussanne, 40% Marsanne and 12% Clairette Blanc, starting in the nose, where white melon, light banana and creamy cherimoya meet a chalky tone. The palate is also creamy, with peach and mango, but it’s the wet, polished stone flavors that make the wine most compelling.

Tablas Creek 2019 Patelin de Tablas Blanc (Paso Robles); $45, 92 points. Light aromas of lemon peel, lychee, honeysuckle and apple appear on the nose of this blend of 35% Grenache Blanc, 25% Roussanne, 19% Viognier, 14% Marsanne and 7% Clairette Blanche. The palate is intriguing with citrus aromas, from tangerine pith to macerated lime, with a bright lemongrass tone carried by the tightly woven texture.

ONX 2019 L’Autre Femme Blanc (Paso Robles); $42, 90 points. Round aromas of bubblegum, banana and plumeria with a slight orange acidity on the nose of this blend of 52% Roussanne, 32% Viognier and 16% Grenache Blanc. On the palate, notes of lemon peel, but the main taste is reminiscent of banana pudding.

Photo by Heami Lee

Racy Albariño

Bodega de Edgar’s wine offering has a nod to Spain, so Albarinho fit perfectly into the portfolio when Edgar Torres added it in 2009. This variety can be vinified in rich or bright styles, but the bone-dry 2019 wine, with a chalky, grapefruit core, is the perfect style.

He was proud of this change to more restraint.

Instead of using late harvested Rhone grapes, we opted for fresh, more acidic white wines, he explains. Consumers continue to ask for this bright white color style.

These Albarinhos retain that energy perfectly, as evidenced by the Project España bottle from Derby Wine Estates. After nearly four years in bottle, the 2017 explodes with lime and guava zest and maintains a firm grip in the sip.

I have found that the texture of the wines can be improved by light pressing followed by contact with the skins for a few hours before pressing, says winemaker Sean Jeoghegan. The resulting wine is very rich in phenolic compounds from the skins and, combined with a low pH due to acidity, results in a white wine that can get better with age.

TRY

Derby 2017 Project España Albariño (Paso Robles); $26, 93 points. This fresh and full-bodied drink has aromas of lime and guava peel, as well as bruised lemongrass and gardenia. There is a very firm grip in the sip where the wet rock and limestone flavors are friendly with the lime and balsamic flavors. This is a good result for this variety in this region. Editorial selection.

Donati Family Vineyard 2019 Family Reserve Albariño (Paso Robles); $30, 91 points. Broad aromas of peach, gardenia, apple blossom and lime blossom emerge from the broad nose of this variety. The palate is firm, concentrated on Meyer lemon peel and core, with golden apple and spicy flavors that emerge toward the end. Editorial selection.

Expressive Chenin Blanc

In my early years, white wine was despised in the region, says veteran winemaker Neal Collins of Tablas Creek. He recalls that these early Chardonnays were rather soft. He was looking for an alternative to Shard when he first tasted Chenin Blanc from the Old Bailey vineyard (planted in 1969). That was almost 30 years ago, when he worked as a winemaker at Adelaida Cellars.

We absolutely destroyed it with the American oak, Collins said. But I have never forgotten the vine and its fruit.

In 2010, he returned to these vineyards for his own brand, Lone Madrone. The vineyard’s chalky soil has allowed it to produce Loire-style Chenin Blanc without the use of oak, if at all.

Shenin is a very suitable grape to express the terroir of our area, he says.

Each year, Sherman Thacher of Thacher Winery makes a wine with a mineral touch and high acidity. It uses grapes from the hot Shell Creek vineyard in the southeast Paso Highlands.

The vines were planted in 1972. The age of the vines and their own roots, as well as the large day-night temperature variations of the region, are the factors that Thacher attributes to the style of the wines.

The older plants have had time to absorb the environment and, by taking root, have a direct link to the sea limestone just below the top layer of alluvium, he explains.

TRY

Thacher 2019 Own-Rooted Shell Creek Vineyard Chenin Blanc (Paso Robles Highlands District); $32, 92 points. The nose of this wine from a vineyard in eastern Paso Robles reveals fresh aromas of creamy pear, polished granite and hints of pineapple. The flavor is bright and floral, but not overpowering, with restrained tuberose and plumeria flavors that stay on a firm frame.

Bodroje Vermentino

In the mid-1990s, a clever gardener secretly planted Vermentino vines in a batch of vines shipped to Tablas Creek and planted these non-Rona grapes in a vineyard of Rhone grapes. Since then everyone applauds.

This grape, which is mainly found in regions like Corsica, Liguria and Sardinia and is also called Rolle, produces strong, robust and refreshing citrus aromas with striking regularity.

Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery, located in the eastern hills of Paso, planted Vermentino in the cool and windy Huerhuero vineyard. The winery began producing varietal bottlings in 2011.

Although we make fruity Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, I think Vermentino is one of our most versatile and food-friendly white wines, says winemaker Kevin Willenborg. It goes well with light dishes, such as pasta, shellfish and chicken, but also with spicy dishes. What really sets it apart is its rich weight and soft, long finish, but without being sweet or woody.

It is fortunate that Paso Robles is finally getting recognition for its white wines.

The long growing season and cool nights, influenced by the maritime climate, allow us to produce these fresh, aromatic white wines – it just takes a little work with the vines and foliage, he says. Sooner or later, you’re gonna need a good white one.

TRY

Tablas Creek 2019 Vermentino (Adelaide region); $27, 94 points. Owner Jason Haas has always been successful in harnessing the magical potential of this grape for a warm region like Paso Robles. In this vintage, light, fresh aromas of pear, lemon and lily lead to intoxicating flavors of nectarine, honeysuckle and ripe melon, all wrapped up in an extremely chalky texture. Editorial selection.

Vina Robles 2019 Huerhuero Vineyard Vermentino (Paso Robles); $20, 92 points. Very light in the glass, this wine is incredibly aromatic in every way, with abundant notes of jasmine, plumeria and coconut oil, as well as an invigorating line of citrus peel. The taste is crisp, with bright acidity and a texture balanced by tropical notes of tuberose and plumeria extract. Editorial selection.

Ugni Blanc must be watched

The most unexpected grape here is Ugni Blanc, also known as Trebbiano, which Ryan Pease of Peace On Earth transforms into what may be the best white wine in the region in any vintage. Inspired by the Tablas Creek vermentine, Pease began working with Ugni Blanc in 2013. He planted an additional 1.5 acres in 2020 and remains the only known producer of these grapes in the region. It has become our most requested wine, says Pease.

Peace On Earth 2020 Maison Mason Vineyard Ugni Blanc (Paso Robles Willow Creek District); $32, 94 points. Very languid aromas of lime and wet cement cling to the warmer notes of apple, honeysuckle and coconut flesh in the nose of this bottling. There is a tremendous grip in the throat where the textures and flavors of orange and lime meet lemongrass, and the wine clings to every edge of the palate.I first tasted Paso Robles’ white wines when the winery showed them to me in the tasting room. They were listed on the tasting room’s small printed menu consisting of one page only, with only the name of each wine and its vintage. The wines I tried were:. Read more about how many wineries are in paso robles and let us know what you think.

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