Our most recent wine tasting get together was very low-key… and very nice. An intimate group of about eight friends gathered at Randy’s place in Hemet. Randy picked up two pizzas for us. Half of one of them would have been more than enough. They must have weighed five pounds each!

wine tasting WINEormousOne of the first wine regions I fell in love with when I began my wine journey was Paso Robles. They continue to produce extraordinary wines. We started with Robert Hall’s 2018 Chardonnay. Stainless steel and barrel fermented, the group struggled with this wine. Randy called it neutral. Jonathan and Ken called it nondescript, while Kat said it was middle-of-the-road. No one disliked it, they just weren’t impressed with it. At $19, it scored three and a half out of a possible five stars.

We moved to reds, beginning with the 2018 Montagne Russe Birchbark Pinot Noir produced with fruit from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Ken was struck by strawberries on the nose and cherry cola on the tongue, calling it very nice. Jonathan said it was smooth and slightly sweet with hints of strawberry and raspberry. Its color is pale and I loved the cherry cola nose. I found it well-balanced with integrated tannins. 10% of the proceeds fro. each bottle sold goes to the Birchbark Foundation, a non-profit that saves animals’ lives during veterinary emergencies. That warmed Kat’s heart. It scored better than four stars and it sells for $42.

I’ve had the good fortune to meet both Mr. Lucas and Mr. Lewellen of Lucas & Lewellen Winery in Santa Ynez. We tasted their 2017 Cabernet Franc. Ken liked the smooth nose and dark berry notes. Jonathan said it was smooth, too, and called it peppery. Randy appreciated its “above average complexity.” At $26 it scored just under four stars.

“The Prisoner” is an iconic Napa Valley blend. From The Prisoner Wine Company, we tasted their 2018 Saldo Zinfandel. Randy said “I love the flavor. I’m a spice guy and this hits it!” Ken loved the berry nose and spice on the palate. Kat called it perfect.  It scored about four and a quarter stars and sells for $32.

We moved onto “The Prisoner” itself. The 2018 vintage had “a very light nose with just a tease of the taste” thought Ken. Randy liked its complexity and great finish. A blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Charbono it sells for $49 and scored about four stars.

We finished with another offering from Lucas & Lewellen, their 2016  Cote del Sol  Cabernet Sauvignon. I loved everything about this wine. Kat said simply “Oh yes, yes, yes!” Ken liked the big nose and all the layers on the palate. At $38, it scored a solid four and a half stars.