Blanc did you say? Yes Blanc. As in white. Wine. White wine! I am not the biggest wine wine drinker in general, instead preferring the heartier meat of a red wine, but there are a few white that really rope me in. Specifically, Greanache Blanc. I particularly enjoy GB because it is NOT your average white, it’s nothing like the overblown California chardonnay that I run screaming from, and it’s just plain good.
Grenache Blanc the counterpart to Grenache, or Garnacha, which is classically found in Chateau Neuf de Pape wines from the Rhone. It is unusual to find Grenache Blanc on it’s own outsidede of the US, but particularly in Paso Robles, this single varietal flourishes.
During my recent trip to Paso Robles, when were were visiting some Zinfandel vineyards, we were treated to dinner at Artisan, a local hot spot for dining. Since we were exploring the area’s wines, we thought we’d explore the area’s foods as well! Michael Kobayashi, the owner and general manager, welcomed us like old friends. We sat down to a well varied menu and wine list, which included a particularly good wines by the glass program.
First up, the Paso Robles Wine Commission selected our appetizers – Cayucos Red Abalone – The green apple and tropical fruits in the Halter Ranch, Roussanne/Picpoul/Gren Blanc/Marsanne “Côtes de Paso Blanc” really brought out the flavors of the abalone, and we enjoyed that along with the Ranchero Cellars Grenache Blanc. The Halter Ranch white (and red for that matter) were my faves of the evening, and the white
with the honeysuckle, stone fruit and richness topped by a light but noticeable wet river rock flavor were my winning combo. In the Halter Ranch, I tasted white and had tons of nectarine and grapefruit flavors, with a touch of cotton candy and a hint of light caramel, or brown sugar as well as some lovely floral and honeysuckle notes. I probably could have had this wine all night and it was a gorgeous match with the abalone, but didn’t work quite as well with the Pork Belly we also had for an appetzer.
We also ordered the Halter Ranch Cotes de Paso red, which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mouvdre, Couioise, and Cinsault = basically a Rhone mutt. This went beautifully with the pork belly. Before we moved on to mains, I just HAD to order the KILLER gouda and porter fondue. This dish was so amazing that I really wanted to lick the scalding hot cauldron clean. For mains, I had organic chicken, peas and carrots, aligot potatoes, hen of the woods gravy which was simply luscious. With that we continued sipping on several by the glass selections, including another glass of Halter Ranch Cotes de Paso because I loved it so much.
I also tried the Jacob Toft Sarah’s Cuvee, which si a GSM as well. This was a lovely wine but there was just something missing for me. For kicks, and because we were in experimentation mode, we tried the Calcareous, Grenache/Mourvedre as well to see what happens when you leave the syrah out. I think that was it, but I stopped taking notes since iphyoning at the dinner table makes my partner a little testy, so I just enjoyed the lovely food and wine.
Hats off to the people at Artisan. They made our meal an extremely enjoyable experience. So much so, that, the next night after being given the shaft at a local brewery, we went back! There we were, on a Saturday night, with no reservation in a very small town. There was a festival, and we weren’t sure we’d get in. But Mike worked his magic, and the hostess who greeted us remembered us and took care of us immediately. There is something to be said for excellent customer service, on top of excellent food. The second night, I had an off the menu burger (to DIE for) which the waitress from the night before stopped by to suggest to us. I split this with my other half, after enjoying the butter leaf salad, beets, walnuts, Point Reyes Bluer cheesem which was delicate and flavorful. I started with beer, but quickly moved to wine so we could try those that we didn’t have the first night. Of courses, by then we were a bit beat and weary of wine tasting, but it was still a blast.
I can’t wait to go back and see Artisan while down in Paso at Hospices du Rhone! Please do stop by and see Mike and the gang!
The first meal was sponsored by the Paso Robles Wine Commission, The second was on us, but both were worth 10 times as much as we paid!