Paso Robles is home to so many wonderful wineries! The next stop on our wine tasting tour featured natural wines guided gently toward their destiny, free of artificial manipulation or chemistry. Yes, we were about to experience Le Cuvier Winery!
After a great tasting at Adelaida Vineyards, we drove a few miles to an adjacent ridge line to reach Le Cuvier Winery. The driveway was winding, with houses scattered along the way. Le Cuvier is at the top. Even the view from the parking lot was incredible, with the Paso Robles valley spread out below. Even though we were excited to explore Le Cuvier, we spent several minutes standing and staring at the countryside below us. Eventually we tore ourselves away from the view and made our way into the tasting room.
The room was bright visually and acoustically, with bright yellow walls and hard surfaces in every direction. To one side was a commercial kitchen behind a large viewing glass, foreshadowing the fact that our tasting would have food pairings at every step. Dark woods contrasting with bright artwork gave the room a warm and engaging vibe. It was time for some wine tasting!
We met wine guide Lea and took up a spot along the long tasting bar. She told us that we were about to taste a flight of exclusively natural wines and field yeast, made from dry farmed fruit. Additionally, every wine receives barrel aging for a minimum of three years in neutral oak. When Lea got to the part about the food pairings, we were sure angels were singing somewhere! This was certain to be a unique and wonderful tasting experience. We started with their 2016 Grenache, which they paired with pork rillettes with violet mustard on crostini. We marveled at the cherry and lavender notes that burst from this pairing.
Lea told us that owner/winemaker John Munch (who also launched the Adelaida wine program) considered himself a “wine herder” instead of a “wine maker” because he approached his task as merely letting the fruit accomplish its own mission. He refused to “manipulate” the wine making process in any way. With only one wine tasted so far, we were already fans of his approach! Next up was a NV Pentimento, created with the solara method of blending multiple vintages of wine in a cascading fashion. The resulting wine contained vintages reaching back into the late 90’s. It was paired with caprese skewers with tomato, herbed mozzarella, basil and prosciutto dust. Another fun pairing!
We next tasted what became our first entry on our Take Home list, their 2016 Littoral (made from Cabernet Franc and friends) paired with petite tenderloin with chimichurri. When Judi exclaimed, “Love that!” we knew some of this wine would be following us home. Their 2016 Petit Verdot was next up, paired with za’atar spiced ground lamb, hummus, pomegranate on a pita cracker. The gentle and fruity Petit Verdot perfectly highlighted the richness of the lamb. Lea then poured their 2016 Petite Sirah, which they paired with a pink peppercorn and edible flower shortbread cookie. The wine was silky on the tongue, with punchy plum notes that became a bit more peppery with the shortbread cookie. Our final taste was Sarah’s favorite: their 2015 Malbec. This was an explosion of fruit in the mouth, with bright berry flavors cavorting toward a lingering finish. This lovely wine joined our Take Home list.
With more wineries yet to visit, we forced ourselves to pack up, thanking Lea and purchasing our wine. Now to head for downtown Paso Robles for more wineries!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?