Jeb Dunnuck: New Scores!

Paso Robles: Looking at the 2018s

“This report wraps up the 2018 Central Coast coverage and focuses on Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo County. This region has been on an incredible qualitative roll over the past decade, and 2018 is another beautiful vintage that is unquestionably in the same league as 2012 through 2017, all of which are loaded with beautiful wines…

Paso Robles: California’s Most Dynamic Region?

The argument could be made that Paso Robles is the most dynamic and up and coming region in California today. The number of new and exciting producers is hard to keep up with, they’ve created numerous new AVAs focused on climate and soils, new vineyards are being planted regularly, and they continue to experiment with new varieties. This drive and focus shows in the wines. In addition, Paso Robles’s culture of being open and incredibly supportive of one another is unique in the world of wine and, in my view, unquestionably has helped propel Paso Robles into the list of world-class wine regions.

I’ve tried to group producers below to give some high-level guidance, but this is far from an inclusive list.


Benchmark Producers:

Adelaida, Alta Colina, Booker, Epoch, Herman Story, l’Aventure, Law Estate, Linne Calodo, McPrice Myers, Saxum, Tablas Creek, TH Estate, Torrin, and Villa Creek”

– Jeb Dunnuck,


2016 Tempranillo Reserva


The 2016 Tempranillo Reserva sees an extended élevage and spent 33 months in 26% new French oak. It’s a solid step up over the classic release and has stunning notes of spiced blackberries, cured meats, chocolate, and vanilla. Stunning on the palate as well, with full-bodied richness, a great mid-palate, and sweet tannins, it’s brilliant today and will still be brilliant in a decade.97
2017 Authenticity

One of the deeper hued wines in the lineup, the 2017 Authenticity checks in as 92% Syrah, 6% Mourvèdre, and the rest Viognier. Classic Paso Robles notes of blueberries, melted licorice, ground pepper, cured meats, and bacon fat all flow to a deep, full-bodied, opulent wine with terrific purity, a rounded, sexy texture, and a seriously good finish.98
2017 Block B


Along the same lines, the 2017 Syrah Block B is 100% Syrah from the Paderewski Vineyard. It’s always a more masculine, powerful Syrah, and the 2017 is no exception. It delivers loads of black fruits, bloody meat, marine-like salinity and minerality, full-bodied richness, sweet tannins, and a blockbuster of a finish. This shows the sexy, ripe style of the vintage, and while it’s a joy to drink today, it certainly has a solid decade of life ahead of it.97
2017 Creativity

The 2017 Creativity is a ripe, exuberant, massive beauty delivering a serious bouquet of blueberries, ground pepper, violets, and cured meats. It’s a big, concentrated blockbuster on the palate and has ripe, sweet tannins, beautiful balance, and a great finish. It doesn’t pull any punches yet stays seamless, silky, and incredibly drinkable.96
2017 Estate Blend

While the estate blend used to function as an entry level cuvée, today it’s as good as the other cuvées and well worth seeking out in its own right. Based on 36% Syrah, 21% Grenache, 17% Mourvèdre, 14% Tempranillo, and the rest Zinfandel and Carignan, the 2017 Estate Blend’s vivid purple color is followed by a juicy bouquet of black raspberries, ground pepper, leafy herbs, chocolate, and a touch of chalky minerality. With medium to full body, a juicy, elegant, balanced texture, and a great finish, it’s a great wine to enjoy over the coming 7-8 years or so. I don’t think it will be the longest lived in the lineup, but for the sheer yum factor, it’s hard to beat.95
2017 Ingenuity

This cuvée has shifted toward more Petite Sirah over the past few vintages, and the 2017 Ingenuity checks in as 56% Petite Sirah, 16% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah, and 13% Grenache. Blueberries, flowery incense, white pepper, and candied orange peel all give way to a sexy, ripe, full-bodied 2017 with sweet tannins and a great finish. Drink it over the coming decade.95
2017 Mourvèdre

Blended with 12% Grenache, the 2017 Mourvèdre is rocking stuff, offering loads of red and black currants fruits as well as spiced meats, licorice, pepper, and loamy earth. Full-bodied and powerful, it still stays beautifully balanced and elegant, with sweet tannins. This gorgeous effort will continue to evolve gracefully for 10-12 years or more.97
2017 Sensibility

The 2017 Sensibility comes all from the Paderewski Vineyard and was fermented in a mix of puncheons and concrete tanks. Made in a fresher, more elegant style, yet still with plenty of Grenache oomph, its ruby/translucent color is followed by lots of kirsch and strawberry-like fruits as well as notes of violets, spring flowers, licorice, and ground pepper. Medium to full-bodied, juicy, and elegant, it has moderate tannins and terrific balance. It should evolve nicely for a good 8-10 years.94
2017 Tempranillo

Blackberries, savory herbs, dried earth, and lots of spiced meat notes emerge from the 2017 Tempranillo. This full-bodied red has a great texture, some classic Tempranillo tannins, and a terrific finish. It’s going to evolve for a solid decade.94+
2017 Veracity

Based on 47% Mourvèdre, 34% Grenache, and 19% Syrah, the 2017 Veracity is beautifully done, revealing a core of blue fruits, plenty of peppery herbs, violets, spice, and floral notes, medium to full body, and a great finish. It’s one of those wines that grows on you with time in the glass, and I suspect it will be even better with another 2-3 years of bottle age (although it’s terrific today).96
2017 Zinfandel

Deep purple, with a big, exuberant bouquet of blueberries, ground pepper, leafy herbs, and spring flowers, the 2017 Zinfandel is full-bodied and has a nicely balanced texture, light tannins, and a great finish. It’s upfront and ready to go yet should hold nicely for 5-7 years.94
2018 Authenticity

Based on 92% Syrah with a splash of Mourvèdre and Viognier, the 2018 Authenticity was scheduled to be bottled in July, just after this tasting. Lots of cassis and pure blue fruits as well as a kiss of violets and pepper define the bouquet, and it’s full-bodied, with a seamless texture and silky tannins. It’s showing a kiss of background oak at present, which will integrate nicely once this is in bottle. This is a stunning 2018 from this great estate.97-99
2018 Block B

Also deeply colored, the 2018 Syrah Block B comes from a single parcel in the estate Paderewski Vineyard. It’s always a singular wine and has a saturated purple color as well as powerful notes of blackcurrants, black olive, iodine, and ground pepper. This meaty, full-bodied, beautifully concentrated Syrah stays nicely balanced, has ripe tannins, and a monster of a finish.97-99
2018 Estate Blend

A Syrah-driven blend, the 2018 Estate Blend has beautiful freshness and purity as well as notes of red and blue fruits, lots of floral and violet hints, cracked pepper, medium to full body, and a beautiful texture. It has a cool-climate-like freshness and purity, but backs it up with beautifully ripe fruit and texture94-96
2018 Ingenuity

A complex blend that’s Petite Sirah-dominated, the 2018 Ingenuity has a great core of darker blue fruits as well as lots of spice, garrigue, and pepper to go with a medium to full-bodied, round, nicely textured style on the palate. It needs bottle age, but it’s unquestionably a seriously good wine.94-96
2018 Sensibility


The 2018 Sensibility checks in as 95% Grenache and 5% Syrah, all from the Paderewski Vineyard, and it was bottled just three weeks prior to this tasting. I always love this cuvée, and the 2018 shows the purity and elegance of the vintage as well as classic Grenache notes of black raspberries, dried flowers, and toasted spice. It’s finesse-oriented, yet it’s rich, super-sexy, and just a joy to drink.96
2018 Tempranillo


More gravelly earth, ground pepper, and savory spice notes emerge from the 2018 Tempranillo, which is a full-bodied, concentrated, structured example of this variety that has lots to love. Showing more floral notes with time in the glass, give bottles 2-3 years in a cold cellar and enjoy over the following decade.94-96+
2018 Veracity

Another gem is the 2018 Veracity, which boasts a medium to full-bodied, focused, elegant style that’s the hallmark of this estate to go with plenty of intensity and opulence in its jammy blackberry fruits and notes of ground pepper, violets, and spicy nuances. It has firm yet ripe tannins, and everything is nicely balanced. It can certainly be enjoyed today, but it will be even better in 2-3 years and evolve for a decade.97+
2018 York Mountain Grenache

Coming from new plantings on York Mountain, the 2018 Grenache York Mountain showed beautifully, with a complex, nuanced style in its ripe blue fruits, herbes de Provence, pepper, and violet aromas and flavors. It packs plenty of richness yet offers a more medium to full-bodied, elegant, silky texture, light tannins, and a great finish. Drink this Châteauneuf du Pape look-alike any time over the coming 7-8 years or more.96
2018 York Mountain Syrah

The 2018 Syrah York Mountain is straight-up stunning and has everything I look for in a truly great Syrah. Boasting a purple hue as well as cool-climate notes of assorted darker fruits, smoked game, ground pepper, chocolate, and chalky minerality, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, flawless balance, beautifully integrated acidity, and a heavenly finish. This is a rich, concentrated yet exceedingly elegant, seamless Syrah from winemaker Jordan Fiorentini that needs a year or three of bottle age and will shine for over a decade.98
2018 Zinfandel


The 2018 Zinfandel is a head turner from this estate, which turns out an incredibly compelling example of Zinfandel. Offering loads of dark currant and cassis fruits as well as more herbal and smoky nuances, it’s medium to full-bodied, has a layered texture, terrific balance, and enough ripe tannins to keep it drinking nicely for a solid decade.95
2019 Sensibility


Medium ruby-hued, the 2019 Sensibility offers a floral, feminine style that carries beautiful raspberry and strawberry fruits, medium-bodied richness, light, silky tannins, and a great finish. It’s another impressive barrel sample that’s going to offer lots of upfront charm yet also evolve gracefully.93-95
2019 Viognier

The 2019 Viognier is also beautiful, and this can be a challenging variety in California. Lots of mineral-laced citrus and nectarines, notes of white flowers, medium to full-bodied richness, and both richness and freshness all make for a brilliant Viognier that’s going to shine on the dinner table.92-94
2019 WhiteThe same Grenache Blanc-dominated blend as the 2018, the 2019 White is a pretty, lively, medium-bodied white offering classy notes of crushed citrus, nectarines, and white flowers. It shines for its freshness yet still brings plenty of texture and length on the palate.91-93
2019 York Mountain GrenacheI loved the 2019 Grenache York Mountain, which has a distinctly Rhône-like bouquet of darker berry fruits, licorice, and peppery herbs as well as even a hint of herbes de Provence. With medium to full-bodied richness, beautiful overall balance, and considerable elegance, it’s an impressive Grenache that I’d be happy to put in a blind lineup of top Châteauneuf du Pape.93-95
2019 York Mountain SyrahI was able to taste multiple barrels of the 2019 Syrah York Mountain. This will be a Rhône-styled Syrah with medium to full-bodied richness and depth as well as lots of meaty, peppery aromas and flavors. I love its balance, it stays nicely focused and elegant on the palate, has silky tannins, and outstanding length.93-95
2019 ZinfandelClassic notes of orange blossom, candied citrus, white pepper, and spicy red and blue fruits dominate the 2019 Zinfandel. This full-bodied beauty has a pretty, lively style, ripe tannins, and a juicy finish.93-95