Calcareous Vineyard: Two Pretty Rhône-Style Blends Crafted in Paso Robles

Paso Robles is a wine region we have just recently begun to explore. The more we taste, the more we appreciate the wide variety of wine styles made in the region. Today’s tasting includes two proprietary blends that leave us wanting to plan a visit during our next trip to Paso. We received these wines as tasting samples.

Dana Brown and her father Lloyd Messer, who has since passed, understood the importance of soil when they established their vineyard in 2000. They named their enterprise Calcareous Vineyard after the predominant soil type found in the 442-acre hilltop property on Paso Robles’ westside. With elevations reaching 1,800 feet above sea level and abundant calcareous rock they describe the site as “one of the highest limestone plateaus on Paso Robles’ westside.”

The limestone-rich site sits only 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Cooling fog and afternoon breezes moderate otherwise warm days resulting in very cool nights. This large shift in temperatures allows grapes to develop complex flavors while maintaining their acidity. Plantings include Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and the lone white variety, Chardonnay. The estate’s hilltop and hillside locations provide a variety of elevations and exposures giving each grape variety the perfect growing conditions. Jason Joyce is winemaker.

2021 Calcareous Vineyard Lily Blanc, Paso Robles photo
2021 Calcareous Vineyard Lily Blanc, Paso Robles

 2021 Calcareous Vineyard Lily Blanc, Paso Robleslight golden with generous toasty, citrus, melon and delicately floral aromas. Complex flavors include citrus, melon, white flowers, toast and hints of cedar spice all supported by fresh acidity. The wine has a bit of weight and roundness with a very long finish. 410 cases made. 14.2% abv. SRP $38

Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier are sourced from a neighbor’s vineyard, Glenrose Vineyard, just across Peachy Canyon Road from the estate vineyard. All were harvested and fermented separately in 500-liter puncheons and 470-gallon concrete eggs. The wine was blended after primary fermentation and aged for nine months in concrete eggs and French oak puncheons. The final blend is 55% Grenache Blanc, 31% Roussanne, 14% Viognier. The aromatics, flavors and weight of this wine are so beautiful. 

2020 Calcareous Trés Violet, Paso Robles photo
2020 Calcareous Trés Violet, Paso Robles

2020 Calcareous Trés Violet, Paso Roblesdark ruby with generous red fruit and oak spice aromas. Flavors include ripe raspberries, blackberries and blueberries with earthy notes and toasty oak in the background. Tannins are smooth and drying in a medium body. 840 cases made. 15.1% abv. Average price $60

Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah was sourced entirely from the estate vineyard. The site’s steep slopes and high-pH soils keep the yield naturally low at only two tons per acre. Each lot was de-stemmed and whole-berry fermented in open-top 3-ton concrete fermenters. The three varieties were blended after malolactic fermentation and aged for 18 months in a combination of French oak tank and new and used puncheons.

The red fruit character of this wine is supported by oak and is so delicious and fresh. It is fruit-forward without being too ripe. As Peter was tasting Trés Violet I asked him what he thought the alcohol level was. He guessed in the 13.5% to 14% abv range. Trés Violet carries its alcohol well.

Thanks to Solterra Strategies for organizing our tasting.


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