For many wine drinkers, variety is key. Sometimes a jammy, full-bodied red is needed to lend some comfort, or maybe a zesty, light-bodied red might fit the bill for that taco pairing. Whatever the need, this assortment of reds is hard to find from one area alone, yet such is not the case for Paso Robles.
Home to 40 different wine grapes, with a focus on red wines, this Central Coast region offers an incredible array of bottlings, from single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache to Bordeaux-style or Rhône-style blends and beyond. Within that spectrum, there’s everything from rich, velvety pours to juicy glou-glou bottlings. Here are ten Editors’ Choice reds from Paso Robles that showcase the diversity of the region.
Anonimo 2017 Red (Paso Robles); $40, 94 points. This unique blend of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Mourvèdre and 10% Petit Verdot by Hearst Ranch’s winemaker Soren Christensen works extremely well. Aromas of black raspberry, clove, nutmeg and crushed rock leads into a palate that’s both tense in structure and yet generous in flavors. Strawberry, sumac, white peppers and rosewater all make a showing. Editors’ Choice. –Matt Kettmann
Daou 2018 Bodyguard Red (Paso Robles); $40, 94 points. In comparison to some of the brand’s other offerings, this is an affordable way to check in on the Daou experience. Savory aromas of coffee bean meet with lush purple fruits on the nose. The palate is rounded in texture, with rich flavors of dark berry, cappuccino, milk chocolate and caramel. Editors’ Choice. –M.K.
Verdad 2017 Pine Hawk Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles); $39, 94 points. There’s a revelatory streak to this bottling, in that it shows how Cabernet Sauvignon can be presented in a very light yet very compelling manner. Elegant aromas of crumpled rose, carnation, dried strawberry and crushed rock lead into a delicate, restrained palate that remains tense while delivering a range of red fruit with dried oregano and marjoram. Editors’ Choice. –M.K.
Vina Robles 2018 The Arborist Estate Red (Paso Robles); $18, 94 points. This is a screamingly good deal, offering both hedonistic pleasure and complexity through a blend of 41% Syrah, 35% Petite Sirah, 12% Grenache and 12% Tannat. Aromas of roasted cherry, smoked meat and cola spice lead into a hearty palate of black currant, roasted game and licorice. It’s balanced by bright acidity, making for a sip that will satisfy many. Editors’ Choice. –M.K.
J. Lohr 2018 Pure Paso Proprietary Red (Paso Robles); $27, 93 points. This blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Petite Sirah, 2% Syrah and 2% Malbec offers aromas of black-cherry pie, toasty brioche and fresh mint on the nose. That minty element carries to the palate, where more black cherry and fudge flavors are wrapped in ample acidity and chalky tannins. Editors’ Choice. –M.K.
Ancient Peaks 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon (Santa Margarita Ranch); $22, 93 points. A deep blackberry aroma meets with licorice and mushroom on the fresh and savory nose. The palate’s black currant and blueberry core is partnered harmoniously with notes of chipped wood and toasted herbs as well as jubilant acidity. Editors’ Choice. –M.K.
Four Vines 2018 The Kinker Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles); $18, 93 points. For the price, this delicious bottling is hard to beat. Aromas of blackberry pie, caramel and light oak are approachable and appealing. The palate is wrapped in tight-enough tannins to uphold the joyous black-plum and blackberry-pie flavors, which are enhanced by savory touches of meat and black olive. It finishes on a hint of mint. Editors’ Choice. –M.K.
Thacher 2019 Glenrose Vineyard Cinsault (Adelaida District); $36, 93 points. Sherman Thacher and crew are leaders in the resurgence of this Rhône grape, and this bottling bursts forth with aromas of strawberry, cranberry, rose potpourri, rusty earth and cinnamon. There’s tension to the brisk sip, where sage, marjoram and bay leaf give depth to the crisp cranberry fruit. Editors’ Choice. –M.K.
Tree Fort 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles); $17, 92 points. This is a fairly amazing wine for the price, competing with bottlings that are four times the cost. Deep and dark aromas of black cherry, caramel, cocoa, espresso bean and oregano lead into a grippy palate, where pinpoint, sandy tannins frame dense flavors of black currant and coffee grinds. Editors’ Choice. –M.K.
Dusty Nabor 2019 NSO Grenache (Paso Robles); $18, 91 points. Tart red-plum aromas play against richer strawberry and purple-flower tones on the nose of this very fairly priced bottling. The palate packs fresh fruit-punch and strawberry flavors with pleasantly sour acidity, making for a lively sip. Editors’ Choice. –M.K.