Jun 12, 2006

The Bottom Line Drinkable bottle of wine that is a bit over-priced. Makes old men remember days gone by, no complaints about the memories.

Welcome, Gentle Readers, to another attempt at a sweetpaulie/Pete Ruden bi-coastal wine review. Pete has assured me that his review of a Petite Sirah, this week’s target wine, will appear soon, like tonight. We’ll see, I know that I have missed his observations and comments on wine. If he’s a no-show, I’m calling Guido.

Pete suggested Petite Sirah and we began our California/Georgia search for the “same” bottle of wine but, as usual, to no avail. We agree on a Petite Sirah in the $20 or less category.

I wandered in to our local Holiday Market here in Cottonwood and found a 2000 EOS Paso Robles Reserve, Estate Bottled, Petite Sirah, $20.95. I’ve not tried an EOS or Arciero, the family owning EOS and marketing under both the family name and EOS. A trip to their website, EOSVintages.com, is informative and I suggest a trip there if you have more interest than what I’ve borrowed from it for this review.

EOS was founded, east of Paso Robles, by the Arciero Family in 1996. They state that they have a commitment to producing quality wines for both national and international wine folk. They currently have 700 acres of vines with plans to expand.

Paso, as the area is called by locals, is a fine area for wine production. Most of their rain falls between November and March and the winter temps are generally above freezing. Summer temps will go to 110 degrees plus during the day but night time temps can fall 50 degrees. A cooling fog drifts over the coastal hills on big cat feet (I’ve seen more mountain lions within 50 miles of Paso than all other sightings combined) during the summer evenings, lowering temps and making some moisture available to the grapes. I have pleasant memories of the area which I have included in post script to avoid being deemed off-topic.

I owned a 90 acre chunk close to Buellton in the early 1970s and we found the fog a great help growing garbanzo beans with over 90% of U.S. production coming from that area in Santa Barbara County. Santa Barbara Wineries (I understand) currently owns some of that 90 and have Sauvignon Blanc grapes planted where garbanzos and walnuts once grew. There is good sandy loam along the canyon bottoms and sandy adobe up the hillsides. The soil all drains pretty well. Petite Sirah grapes seem to like the climate as tonight’s candidate is a decent presentation of the varietal

It appears that most of the EOS Estate Bottled Petite Sirah Paso Robles is a 79/21 percent blend of petite sirah and cabernet and the grapes come from the Peck ranch Vineyard of Arciero. The grapes are “dawn harvested” and the wine spends 21 months in oak. Steve Felton was the Director of Winemaking in 2000 but, if I read the website correctly, other names appear in that position six years later. The website describes their AVA as Central Coast while the Spectator calls it South Coast; I expect that the winery knows where it’s at.

I cooled the bottle to 68 degree and pulled the cork. It came out cleanly, with a bit of a tug, with no “corked” suggestion. I let the wine rest for 45 minutes. A tasting pour showed a very dark red wine that was consistent across the glass, no thinning of youth at the edges and no bricking of age. The wine looked very drinkable. A swirl showed the wine clinging to the side of the glass in a perfect sheet. Long, slender legs appeared late, the wine is 13.5% alcohol.

A nose-full of the essences arising from the glass yielded cherries and blueberries galore, some anise/licorice, some black pepper and spices . . . a lot of stuff in the nose. In the mouth the wine is soft and velvety in the front and cherries are the first fruit I taste. As the wine moves back the spices and tannins announce their presence followed by more fruit, blueberries and currants, with a nice bass line of mocha and a hint of oak. The finish is smooth and long with a hint of coffee.

I drank the wine with a pan-grilled pork chop, caramelized Walla Walla onions over the top and asparagus done in butter in the same pan. The wine cleans the palate well and becomes fuller in the mouth as the meal progresses. The wine is well balanced and has some definite structure that I appreciated. Wine making notes available from my on-line search are sparse on the 2000 vintage. I drank about half of the bottle and was pretty comfortable by the end of the meal. I could drink this wine without food and enjoy it. I harkened back to some very pleasant times spent in Templeton, which is just a few miles south and west of Paso. Again, my reverie is included below as a P.S.

This 2000 EOS Estate Bottled Paso Robles Petite Sirah is a pretty good bottle of wine. It is a dark wine, but not the inky-black Petite Sirah that I enjoy most. There are few detractors to the wine other than the price. There are a number of better (IMHO) California Petite Sirahs available in the $9-$15 a bottle range. Pete Ruden likes the Girard '03 Napa Valley, the '04 McManus California and the Castle Rock Lodi. Foppiano used to make a Petite Sirah that was far superior to the EOS for around $13 but I haven’t seen a bottle of that stuff for a while; I’m going looking this week. EOS made 8,150 cases of the wine and the SPECTATOR gave it a rating of 87 in 2003. I think that’s a very fair rating and I’m giving it 3 stars.sweetpaulie says that this is a very drinkable wine that is not going to knock your socks off, but it may evoke pleasant amorous memories that approach forty years in age.Salud!

P.S. O.K., it’s late winter of 1970 and I’m living near U.C. Santa Barbara in a place called Isla Vista. I’ve been in California less than two years. Some very nice neighbor/friends invite me to their parent’s ranch in Templeton/Paso Robles for a weekend.

They have quite a nice spread and I end up quail hunting and wild pigeon shooting with the father of my friend. He loaned me a 20 gauge shotgun that was worth the better part of a years salary to me. I came home with a nice lot of cleaned quail and wild pigeons.

As I was unloading the car a very attractive friend stopped by and said hi. I was going to cook a feast and invited her to stay for dinner. I suppose that the wine was a way-cool bottle of Mateus or some kind of cheap Chablis, but I recall the meal being pretty darned good. I, also, recall the company of my dinner guest for the rest of the evening.

I haven’t thought about that evening in 30 years or so, but after that half bottle of EOS the other night, those pleasant memories came wandering back. I wish that I hadn’t quit smoking cigars ‘cause one would have went very nicely after both last night’s meal and last night’s reverie. The End.

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About Me: Good friends, good food and good books are the requisites of life. God will help.