Robert Parker Wine Advocate Scores
“The growing season in Paso Robles began with decent rainfall in the winter and a cool spring. In early June, temperatures began to heat up, and by July it was looking like another warm, heat-spike season, with more than two weeks’ worth of days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. These very warm temperatures persisted through mid-August before cooling dramatically through October, with just a few errant heat spikes in September. “2018 played like a cool vintage even though the average temperatures don’t look like that,” says Jason Haas of Tablas Creek. “We had a cool spring and first half of the summer, and there was about 10% less Growing Degree Day accumulation through the first week of July. Then we had about six weeks of heat, around 25% warmer than normal, from mid-July to mid-August. It was so warm that a lot of the days the vines shut down and stopped ripening, so there was not a huge acceleration of ripening. Then in late August, we were right back to 10 degrees cooler than normal. The numbers we picked at looked like a cool-climate vintage, and it was a fairly late harvest through the end of October.”
Many growers reported above-average crop levels this vintage. The long spate of 100+ degree days resulted in vine shut down and delayed ripening through the hottest parts of the summer. Growers hanging heavier crop loads will have struggled to ripen grapes when nature put on the breaks in mid-August and cooler temperatures persisted through the end of the season. Harvest stretched into the end of October for some growers pushing to ripen their crop.
2018 is a break, stylistically, from what readers may have come to expect over the last several years in Paso: lush, ripe, full-bodied wines with loads of horsepower. Successful wines in 2018 are lower in volume, albeit with a lovely harmony. The wines are by no means lean, but structures this vintage are firmer and more serious and some wines will require a bit of extra bottle age. I was pleasantly surprised by the character, immediate appeal and bright freshness of many of the white wines this vintage, and the delicious Rhone-based whites in this report suggest possible untapped potential for whites in cooler areas on the west side of the appellation.”
Wine Description Score 2017 Authenticity The 2017 Authenticity comes from the Paderewski vineyard and is made of 92% Syrah with 6% Mourvèdre and 2% Viognier. It was aged 19 months in 69% new French oak barrels and puncheons. Deep ruby-purple in color, the nose bursts with fresh blackcurrant and blueberry fruits with notes of violet, mint chocolate and garrigue. It’s full-bodied and fresh, its big, bold flavors wrapped in an elegant frame, and it finishes very long, flavorful and lifted. 670 cases produced. 93 2017 Block B
The 2017 Block B is 100% Syrah from the Paderewski vineyard, where grapes are planted on limestone on steep slopes. It was aged 19 months in 71% new French oak barrels and puncheons. It has an opaque ruby-purple color and bursts with aromas of bacon fat, cassis and boysenberry pie with notions of graphite, spearmint and garrigue. The palate is full-bodied and fully fruited with a ripe, pixelated frame, and it finishes long with good freshness and nuance. 479 cases produced. 95+ 2017 Creativity The 2017 Creativity is made of 100% Syrah from the Catapult vineyard. Winemaker Jordan Fiorentini says, “In 2017, we did a triage pick for Syrah, to take off the clusters that had been hurt by the heat wave. It cooled off dramatically afterward, and we were able to let the rest hang.” Deep ruby-purple, the nose begins with touches of chargrill, tar and graphite, evolving to cassis, blue fruits and coffee notions. The palate is full-bodied and ripe but surprisingly fresh with juicy blue fruits and a bright floral lift, and it finishes very long. This will need more time in the cellar to really open up. 443 cases produced. 95+ 2017 Estate Blend The 2017 Estate Blend is made from all the grape varieties grown on the Epoch estate. It’s a blend of 36% Syrah, 21% Grenache, 17% Mourvèdre, 14% Tempranillo, 8% Zinfandel and 4% Carignan, aged 18 months in 40% new French oak. It has a medium to deep ruby-purple color, and the nose offers pure, pretty rhubarb and blackcurrant fruits with notes of earth and potpourri. The palate is medium-bodied and light on its feet, with spicy, fresh fruit character, a ripe frame and long finish. This is fresh and approachable right away. 1,673 cases produced. 93 2017 Ingenuity The 2017 Ingenuity is a blend of 56% Petite Sirah, 16% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah and 13% Grenache from the Paderewski vineyard, aged 19 months in 51% new French oak barrels and puncheons. It has pretty aromas of violet, blueberries and blackberries with spicy touches. It’s full-bodied but surprisingly fresh and ripe, offering pretty pops of blue fruits and finishing long and layered. 667 cases produced. 92+ 2017 Tempranillo The 2017 Tempranillo comes from the Paderewski vineyard and was aged 19 months in 67% new French oak barrels and puncheons. It has an opaque ruby-purple color and a nose of sour cherries and Italian plums with underlying nuances of tar, coffee, leather and soy sauce. The palate is super spicy, bright and fresh, with a firm structuring frame and long, layered finish. It’s an elegant New World expression of the grape. 94 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 Veracity A blend of 54% Mourvèdre, 35% Grenache and 11% Syrah aged 18 months in 28% new French oak barrels and puncheons, the 2018 Veracity has a medium to deep ruby-purple color and gregarious bursts of mint and coffee supported by black and red berry fruits laced with aniseed and spices. The palate is medium to full-bodied, firm and grainy with fantastic juicy character and a long, spicy finish. 1,273 cases produced. 94 2018 York Mountain Grenache Made entirely of Grenache, the medium to deep ruby-purple colored 2018 Grenache York Mountain grows in sandstone and was aged 18 months in neutral oak. The nose is singular and spicy, with addicting, layered aromas of earth, spices, meats and tricolored fruits, more nuances and layers coming through with time in the glass. The palate is full-bodied, firm, ripe and super fresh, with full fruit character corseted by an elegant frame, and it finishes long and expansive. Wow! 289 cases produced. 96 2018 York Mountain Syrah Aged 18 months in 29% new French oak barrels and puncheons, the 2018 Syrah York Mountain contains 1% Viognier and is scented of cassis, smoked meats, fresh mint leaves and coffee beans. The palate is fully fruited but nearly weightless—ripe and juicy with an ethereal lift—and it finishes long and juicy. 418 cases produced. 94 2018 Zinfandel The 2018 Zinfandel is a gorgeous wine, blended with 9% Syrah and 1% Viognier and aged 18 months in concrete and neutral oak. It has a medium to deep ruby-purple color, and the nose explodes to tricolored berry fruits and loads of peachy nuance, with spicy and earthy undertones. The palate is full-bodied with explosive, juicy, layered fruits, a kaleidoscope of flavor in an elegant, mega juicy frame, and it finishes very long. 385 cases produced. 96 2019 White The 2019 Epoch White is made up of 47% Grenache Blanc, 42% Viognier and 11% Roussanne. It has lovely honeyed aromas with notions of hay, hazelnut, elderflower and white stone fruits. The palate is medium-bodied with a rounded, gently leesy texture and bright pops of freshness on the long, gently honeyed finish. I’d love to taste this with a couple years of bottle age. 585 cases produced. 92 2019 Rosé The 2019 Rosé is made of 62% Mourvèdre, 21% Grenache and 17% Syrah. It has a medium onion skin color and bright, fresh aromas of baker’s yeast, tarragon, lemon pith and stone. The palate is medium-bodied and explodes with peachy fruits and is super fresh and super lifted on the finish, calling you in for another sip. 1,186 cases produced. 92