I enjoy spreading the love around. There's so much great juice out there to tell stories about, so I make sure I move from distributor to distributor, winery to winery and varietal to varietal.
Still, at the end of 2008 I reviewed all of my past year's columns, all 52 of 'em.
What I found out was that I wrote about Paso Robles region wines about 60 percent of the time. And, of those roughly 30 columns, on four occasions I referenced wines form Vina Robles winery.
First of all, their sales director keeps me in the loop on new vintages, new products and offers easily accessible information. Moreover, I really, really like the wines of this region, whether they come from Vina Robles or not.
It's a fairly new AVA (American Viticultural Area) -- earning its designation in 1983 (with expansion in 1997 and 2009). To my eclectic but fairly narrow palate, the wineries of this area are churning out beautiful wines at moderate prices -- and giving the 500-pound gorilla in Napa a run for its money.
The remarkable terroir sits nearly dead center between LA and Napa -- call it up on Google Earth to get a feel for the landscape. This is sweet turf, ranging from rolling pasture lands to low hills to mountains. Widely divergent daily temperature swings aid in creating a unique terroir that has not gone unnoticed by wine makers: The AVA hosts 26,000 vineyard acres and more than 180 wineries.
With distinct microclimates, diverse soils and a long growing season, Paso Robles is a unique wine region blessed with growing conditions for producing premium and ultra premium wines. More than 40 wine grape varieties are grown in Paso Robles, ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, to Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne, to Zinfandel, the area's heritage wine varietal.
Vina Robles' wine maker capitalizes on the opportunity. As a wine drinker, I further capitalize on his skills
Whether I'm sipping the velvety decadent Petite Syrah or Signature, a blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah that smells of fresh dark fruit and spice, I know when I pull the cork on wine from Vina Robles that it will be a keeper.
One of their most quaffable wines (only behind the crisply fresh Rose, dubbed Roseum) is the blend labeled Red4.
With grapes drawn from California's central coast, Red4 builds its formidable structure from Petite Sirah (53 percent) and showcases the spice and cherry qualities of Syrah (38 percent). Traces of Touriga and Tannat grapes add scents of violet and additional character. This young wine is fresh and fruity with blackberry and ripe cherry.
I really want to draw your attention to its new partner, White4. At a time of year when ABC zealots (Anything But Chardonnay) are abandoning grassy Sauvignon Blanc and flowery Pinot Grigio, White4 could fill the void.
Crafted with a predominance of Verdelho and Vermentino for beautiful stone fruit characteristics and sweetness, the wine delivers quite enough citrus and floral notes from a balance of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.
It's a delicious refresher standing alone, but, like its Red4 cousin, shines admirably with food, in this case fish like grouper or halibut to shellfish and pasta dishes rich with butter or olive oil.
It's an outstanding value at around $15, and wine you'll return to time and again.