L'Aventure Estate Cuvee 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The flagship 2017 Estate Cuvée (49% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 21% Petit Verdot) spent 15 months in 90% new French oak, and I certainly blew the barrel review on this wine. It offers a brilliant bouquet of crème de cassis, crushed violets, lead pencil, chocolate, and a rocking sense of minerality. Deep, full-bodied, concentrated, and seamless on the palate, it's about as polished and sexy as they come in the vintage.
L'Aventure was founded in 1998 by a French winemaker, Stephan Asseo. After Stephan graduated enology school in Burgundy, the Asseo family bought their first estate, Domaine de Courteillac, in the Bordeaux area in 1982. Later, the family purchased additional properties: Chateau Robin and Chateau Fleur-Cardinale in Saint-Emilion. Stephan raised these properties to a level of great quality, while managing some other well-established domaines such as Chateau Guillot-Clauzel in Pomerol and Chateau Corbin in St Emilion.
Stephan saw in the New World a unique opportunity to expand his experience, while gaining more freedom in viticulture and vinification. He began by looking all over California for land, including Napa/Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties, but it was the terroir and climate of Paso Robles that impressed him the most.
L'Aventure is located on the west side of Paso Robles in the Willow Creek District. The 127-acre property with 57 acres planted, is comprised of multiple hills of various elevation and complex soils. Because of its proximity to the ocean, the vineyard has clear warm days and drastic cool nighttime temperatures which increases the time of the grape’s maturation cycle providing fruit that creates a more complex and balanced wine. Stephan’s choice of this lean terroir provides him with the fruit necessary to create wine with a good balance between alcohol and acidity. The resulting wines are full and rich yet well balanced and elegant.
Paso Robles has made a name for itself as a source of supple, powerful, fruit-driven 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.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.