Alapay Cellars French Camp Vineyard Lagrein 2013
Paso Robles has made a name for itself as a source of supple, powerful, fruit-driven wines wines. But with eleven smaller sub-AVAs, there is actually quite a bit of diversity to be found in this inland portion of California’s Central Coast.
Just east over the Santa Lucia Mountains from the chilly Pacific Ocean, lie the coolest in the region: Adelaida, Templeton Gap and (Paso Robles) Willow Creek Districts, as well as York Mountain AVA and Santa Margarita Ranch. These all experience more ocean fog, wind and precipitation compared to the rest of the Paso sub-appellations. The San Miguel, (Paso Robles) Estrella, (Paso Robles) Geneso, (Paso Robles) Highlands, El Pomar and Creston Districts, along with San Juan Creek, are the hotter, more western appellations of the greater Paso Robles AVA.
This is mostly red wine country, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel standing out as the star performers. Other popular varieties include Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Grenache and Rhône blends, both red and white. There is a fairly uniform tendency here towards wines that are unapologetically bold and opulently fruit-driven, albeit with a surprising amount of acidity thanks to the region’s chilly nighttime temperatures.
Incredibly concentrated in ripe blackberry and uncommonly sturdy in character, Lagrein balances its intensity with a gorgeous perfume reminiscent of fresh herbs, cut grass, juniper and violets. On the palate, bright red cherries and a savory splash lighten up its often hefty, but usually smooth, tannins. Deeply rooted in the Alto Adige area, Lagrein has recently experienced a great renaissance. While the climate is cool there, the sun is intense. The best Lagrein usually comes from the warm slopes near the bustling city of Bolzano. Lagrein Kretzer (German) or Rosato (Italian) is the spicy rosé version, which is delicious with smoked fish and white meat. Try Lagrein, the red wine, with gamey meats, beef and aged cheeses.