Tuesday, May 02, 2006


This year’s May Day was celebrated by having dinner with Bill Grant of Four Vines Winery in Paso Robles. Actually Bill was in town to present our group some of the new wines from Four Vines and get us up to speed with what has been happening with the winery – especially since the warehouse fire that destroyed a fair amount of their wines last fall.

Bill Grant really is the perfect person to sample (and drink) through these wines with because he always has a smile and makes you feel like you are part of the process at Four Vines. He expects you to be as excited about these wines as he is – this is easily accomplished once you taste through the wines. Bill is involved in everything that goes on at the winery, and much of what happens in the Paso Robles area. So much so, that after a couple of hours with him you really get a sense of the whole story of what has been, what is now, and what is coming down the road from his winery, as well as his neighbors and competition..

What is coming down the road very shortly is the 2005 Naked Chardonnay and 2004 single vineyard Zins and Rhone inspired blends. What Bill and his partner / winemaker Christian Tietje have done with these wines is quickly pushing them to the top of the pile in the Paso Robles (and California) region. Meaning: the wines are not formulated, they burst from the glass and let you know something good is about to happen, and at times make you wonder if perhaps there isn’t something a bit over the edge within. But No! Even at 15+% alcohol all of these wines show just enough restraint to keep you from going over the edge.

There are no phrases like “classic”or “traditional” styling, at Four Vines. These are throaty, American-made V-8s that make the ground shake with their powerful, purring engines. With the 2005/2004 releases, everything is clicking smoothly for Four Vines: October’s fire is becoming a memory, the labels are unique, fun and eye-catching, and the wine is flat out good!

Four Vines Winery Tasting Notes from May 1st, 2006:

2005, Four Vines Naked Chardonnay Santa Barbara County – “Naked” is for Chardonnay that has gone skinny dipping. No ML. No Oak. No nothing! Just pure, fresh, intense Chardonnay that has a surprising amount of mouth-feel for a “crisp” style. I found this wine to be lemony and fresh, but so smooth on the palate. Just an explosion of fruit and very long on the finish. Tasty. 30,000 cases produced. (2+)

Please note: Due to increased public demand for high quality Zin, bulk Zinfandel prices in California are up about 30% across the board this year, but Four Vines has not raised its pricing as a result. These guys are in it for the long-term, and do not want to scare off the fans. Plus they are buying more vineyards to help maintain more consistent prices.

2004, Four Vines “Biker” Zinfandel Paso Robles – For me, this is the wine that had the most “edge” to it. Brambly dark berry fruit on the nose with loads of white pepper and cola spices, YET very smooth on the palate with loads of round, juicy blackberry and dark cherry flavors wrapped around a good amount of vanilla and spices. At 15% alcohol this wine is balanced (for the most part) and is just screaming for some ribs or a big, juicy burger. (2+)

2004, Four Vines Zinfandel Dusi Vineyard Paso Robles – those in the know, know Dusi – at least if they can find it or afford it. This wine is one of the finest zins that I have had the pleasure of tasting. All the flavors of the Biker, but more, and amplified. Sweet, late-season raspberries and briary blackberry bush dominate the nose along with cedar, vanilla and Asian spices. On the palate this wine is superbly balanced, which is not easy for a wine carrying +15% alcohol – the concentration is wonderful: so smooth. The grapes for this wine are destemmed twice to further concentrate the fruit and flavors, and it shows. Finishes elegantly, balanced and very long – again, not an easy thing in such a big wine. In my opinion, the best effort shown in this line-up. Get your orders in because there isn’t a lot of wine. (2++)

2004, Four Vines “Peasant” Paso Robles – the label advises that temperance along with chastity is its own punishment – well, this wine is sure to cure any notion of temperance (and probably chastity, as well). This is a blend of four grapes. In fact it is the same four grapes from the same vineyard that make up the Tables Creek Esprit de Beaucastel – one of the finest wines coming out of the Paso Robles region. This wine is no slacker, either – just a slightly different approach. Glenrose Vineyard’s Syrah (41%), Mouvedre (38%), Grenache (12%) and Counoise (9%) comprise the blend. Really dark, juicy before it hits your lips and balanced. Cedar, cherries, blueberries in the nose. Really smooth across the palate with an intense elegance of the fruit that carries right through to the long slightly tannic finish. The spices just fill your mouth. Complete. 636 cases produced. (2+ )

2004, Four Vines “Loco” Paso Robles – Tempranillo (70%) with Syrah and Grenache (about 15% each) and just a splash of Petite Sirah. This cranks things up even further. The really dark color is not what I expect from Tempranillo, which is usually more red; this wine is red-purple/black. The fruit aromas are creamy smooth with loads of vanilla, clove and cinnamon with dark chocolate and basil, even. Really concentrated and layered aromas. Thick chocolate, cherry spice and alcohol across the palate with smooth, dusty tannins. The finish is very long with endless flavors of dry chocolate and black-raspberries. (2++)

2004, Four Vines “Heretic” Petite Sirah Paso Robles – really dark, glass-staining red-purple/black, and 15.3% alcohol. Chewy chocolate and black-raspberries aromas – almost like chocolate-raspberry truffles. On the palate this wine is almost thick – it is so smooth and rich and the layers of flavors are not like any other wine. There is a polished style to this wine that makes it such a pleasure to drink. The brambly-blackberry, vanilla, cedar, touch of tobacco flavors carry well through the long, slightly dry finish. They have made this wine for several vintages, which, I believe, contributes to the elegance and style of this really big wine. (2+)

2002, Four Vines Zin/Syrah “Port” Paso Robles – shares similar coloring as the other zins. Big, chewy, cherry/berry nose. Really smooth and soft feeling of the concentrated juicy berries on the palate. Comes across with a really thick feeling, as well. This wine coats without fatiguing the palate. Alcohol is present, but still in check. Very lengthy and rich with full throttle fruit that plays for a longtime in the finish. Very Good. (2)

For more information about Four Vines Winery – please visit their web-site at:

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