Over the last decade the Paso Robles region in California has really emerged as a resource for excellent wines. Paso contains a number of distinct sub-regions and very wide arrays of different grapes thrive there. Producers of all sizes are making interesting wines. Clayhouse Vineyard is a producer I’ve been familiar with for a number of years now. As a whole they make wines that are well priced, full of character and available around the country. Here’s a look at 5 current releases that I heartily recommend.
Clayhouse Vineyard 2012 Syrah ($14)
In addition to Syrah (86%), some Petite Sirah (12%) and Viognier is part of this wine. After fermentation it was aged in French, American and Hungarian oak for 9 months. It’s finished in screw top. Red raspberry and violets fill the nose. The easy going palate is filled with juicy red fruit flavors and spice characteristics. Black tea, wisps of earth and hints of sour fruit fill the finish. This represents an excellent value in the under $15 category,
Clayhouse Vineyard 2013 Estate Fume Blanc ($23)
This wine is composed of entirely Sauvignon Blanc. It was fermented in previously used French oak Puncheons. Bright citrus aromas light up the nose where they are joined by bits of vanilla bean. The palate is filled with continued citrus as well as mango and papaya elements. Sweet lemon curd and lime zest are each part of the smooth, mellifluous and memorable finish. This is a fine example of Sauvignon Blanc which shows off lots of complex flavors.
Clayhouse Vineyard 2012 Estate Grenache Blanc / Viognier ($23)
The blend is made up of 70% Grenache Blanc and 30% Viognier. It was fermented in a combination of stainless steel and neutral oak barrels. The inviting nose is loaded with white flowers, citrus and hints of spiced candy. Tangerine and tropical fruit elements fill the even keeled and proportionate palate. Bits of praline, lemon ice and white pepper are all in evidence on the above average finish. Racy acidity adds to the mouthwatering nature of this wine which will pair with lots of lighter foods.
Clayhouse Vineyard 2012 Estate Syrah / Petite Sirah / Viognier ($35)
Syrah (92%) dominates this blend with bits of Petite Sirah (6%), and Viognier (2%) also blended in. It was aged in once used Hungarian oak for 15 months. Blackberry, plum, and spice aromas light up the brooding and ominously inviting nose of this wine. Black cherry and pepper fill the palate along with lots of raspberry. Thyme, continued dark berries, and bits of chocolate sauce are all part of the finish here. This wine is bold, but balanced and it’ll be a great partner to a very wide range of foods.
Clayhouse Vineyard 2012 Estate Old Vines Petite Sirah ($25)
This offering is made up entirely of Petite Sirah. It was aged in French and Hungarian oak that had previously been used once or more. Leather, toast, vanilla bean, plum and blueberry all emerge from the nose of this Petite Sirah. The palate is studded with oodles of dark fruit flavors such as plum, blackberry and more. Dark chocolate, cassis, and plum pudding spices emerge on the lengthy finish. This is a smooth, easy drinking Petite Sirah with soft tannins for the varietal. It’s delicious now and will drink well for the next 5 or so years.
There is a lot to like with the Clayhouse wines. Across the board these are food friendly offerings that are loaded with distinct varietal character. They’re made from Estate fruit so there is a thread you can follow from one vintage to the next. The prices are fair and many of their wines are available nationally. I advise keeping your eye out for them and giving them a shot.