This week I have been out of pocket for the most part as I am back in Maine for the first time in far too long (I went to college in the state, however many years ago, and it still ranks as one of my favorite places on the planet). This is much more of a “escape the Texas heat (which has actually is now a tropical storm) and ride my bike a ton” than a wine excursion (although plenty of wine is being sampled) and the weather has been perfect.
Before I go hop on my bike again, I wanted to let you know that my latest column for the Fort Bend Focus is out today. I took a bit of a different tack, focusing on just one winery, Ancient Peaks in Paso Robles. I visited there this past April and was quite impressed with both the wines and their approach.
It’s a quick read, and I’d love it if you go check it out and let me know what you think! (Click on the image below and it will take you to the digital issue, my piece is on pages 24-25.) Below the image are my full tasting notes for the wines I sampled (I needed to edit them for the article).
2020 Ancient Peaks Rosé, Paso Robles Santa Margarita Ranch, CA: Retail $26. I looked and looked but could not determine the variety(ies) used. Saignée. Pale salmon color with a fruity, yet also meaty nose with dark cherry predominate. Fruity, fun, with some depth and body. Excellent. 90 Points.
2021 Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc, Paso Robles Santa Margarita Ranch, CA: Retail $18. Under screwcap. Cards on the table: I am not a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, not even remotely (unless it is from Sancerre, of course). So when this showed up in a box of samples on my doorstep, I was less than over the moon. But this one? While not in the same price arena as my favorite Sauvs, this is a solid effort. Tart, fruity, tart, mineral, tart, salinity–did I mention tart? Great and mouth-watering, but this is even better with food. Excellent. 91 Points.
2021 Ancient Peaks Chardonnay, Paso Robles Santa Margarita Ranch, CA: Retail $18. Chardonnay 96% Viognier 4%. Under screwcap. Another stellar wine from this Paso Robles stalwart with plenty of fruit, brilliant acidity, and verve, this wine punches well above its weight. Yowza. While this wine did see some oak, it is clearly in the background as the fruit is clearly the focus, but that tartness keeps up admirably. While this will not be confused with any of the Montrachets, it really is a stellar effort, particularly given the price point. Excellent. 90 Points.
2020 Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles Santa Margarita Ranch, CA: Retail $25. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec, 6% Petite Sirah, 3% Syrah. Quite fruity in the glass with oodles of blackberry, plum, black raspberry, and even cassis. Throw in some violet, hints of tobacco, and a meatiness that was a tad surprising. The fruit story continues onto the palate accompanied with a brilliant shot of acidity, plenty of depth, and a lengthy finish. $25? It’s a steal. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 Ancient Peaks Petit Verdot, Paso Robles Santa Margarita Ranch, CA: Retail $50. Big Ass Bottle. 100% Petit Verdot. A PV for fifty bucks? Pretty sure I have not seen that before, but hold onto your hats. Heavy bottle aside (yeesh), this is a pretty fantastic bottle of wine. Quite dark in the glass (as one would expect) with dark berry fruit, mocha, cigar smoke, violet, and eucalyptus, this is fairly amazing even before I taste it. The palate? Whoa. Yes, it is big, brooding, even bodacious, but there is an acidity that holds it all together. There are also layers of complexity and depth that I would have to say is rare in a “pure” PV–usually they just play to its strength which is, well, strength. It would not take long to count the number of Petit Verdots that I have tried, but it would take far less time to list those that were better than this. Outstanding. 94 Points.
2018 Ancient Peaks Oyster Ridge, Paso Robles Santa Margarita Ranch, CA: Retail $60. Big. Ass. Bottle. (This might be one of the heaviest bottles I have ever tried to lift.) 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 9% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot. OK, wow, this bottle is off the charts ridiculous. I really, really, really want to love this winery–they have a great story and seem to be doing everything (else) right, but holy mother of God, this is the most obscene weapon of environmental destruction I have seen outside of the Hummer (or maybe Escalade). Back to the wine: rich and brooding, laden with dark fruit (cassis, plum, blackberry), mocha, and earth, this wine is particularly compelling. The palate is all of that and more with luscious fruit, a balancing tartness, and a finish that lingers for days. Almost as long as the physical therapy that will be required to recover from lifting this bottle. Holy crap. Do better. Outstanding. 93 Points.