The town of Monterey in the northern part of the Central Coast AVA. Photo: ©2009 Kristof Gillese.

The town of Monterey in northern Central Coast AVA. Photo: ©2009 Kristof Gillese.

Santa Barbara in November is a place of magic; where long beaches kiss the ocean under blankets of undulating sheep’s-wool-fog and dew hangs heavy on every early morning branch. This was where I took my wife, pre-kids, for a little getaway that included just the right balance of mimosas for breakfast, Chardonnay for lunch and Syrah for dinner. In that stillness before Californians start their hustle and bustle I would sit on the balcony and be lulled by the murmur of pulsing surf only a few hundred feet away.

That siren’s-call has been luring people to the shores of Central Coast AVA (which stretches from Santa Cruz just north of Monterey all the way to Santa Barbara in the south) for centuries. The Spanish missionaries in the 1700’s, the Gold Rush in the 1800’s and these days it must be called the “Grape Rush” with so many new faces in the wine industry here!

In few parts of California is this more apparent than Paso Robles AVA; having grown from about 5 wineries in 1980 to 20 in the early 1990’s to over 200 in 2014. And 2014 was a big year for these wineries: having gone through the (slightly) controversial subdividing into 11 sub-AVAs. This was a move that at once gave credence to the thought that Paso Robles carries an incredibly diverse array of soil compositions, slope/aspects, rainfall and flora.

The coastline near the Paso Robles AVA, which is about ten miles inland. Photo: ©2009 Kristof Gillese.

The coastline near the Paso Robles AVA, about ten miles inland. Photo: ©2009 Kristof Gillese.

Hard to believe that this could be realized in only three decades when Burgundy took centuries to come to the same conclusions about their region. Burgundy: that archetype of classification for wine-regions, is only 3 times larger then Paso Robles AVA and yet has 9 times as many sub-regions (known as AOC in France). Yet remember; we know that wine has been produced in Burgundy for about 2000 years and in Paso Robles for maybe 200.

Well done Paso Robles! Though many of the successful winemakers here have found more victories with Rhone varietals than Burgundy, in this instance Cabernet Sauvignon has found a home. While the Napa fans will (most likely) say that this is too light for their tastes it reminds me of cool, or classic as the Bordelais would say, vintage Bordeaux. And indeed, swirling this in my glass as I write, the term “Cru Bourgeois” springs to mind the moment I smell and sip.

I wish that this could have been an article to enlighten about the team hard at work at Bridlewood but, alas, I cannot. For all of my research I couldn’t find any real information about who the winemaker is, who the vineyard manager is or what was the inspiration behind creating this visually stunning winery. A shame Gallo Family Vineyards; we consumers are looking for more than just a good bottle of wine for a decent price! This is the “Golden Age” of wine and there are more choices for us than ever before. We’re looking to be inspired!

Inspiration comes, in most instances, from people. Tell us the who! Share with us about the hard-working people who are crafting your products. They deserve to have their stories told and we yearn to hear them. For surely the people who crafted this wine, with it’s dimensions, it’s finesse and generous palate – surely those people have a story to share.

2012 Bridlewood Cabernet Sauvignon

88+ points, Very Good Value
$19 CAD in BC; $10-$14 USD in USA

2012 Bridlewood Cabernet Sauvignon. Photo: ©2014 Kristof Gillese.

2012 Bridlewood Cabernet Sauvignon. Photo: ©2014 Kristof Gillese.

… this wine shows impressive skill for it’s modest price; generously layered aromas carry rich tones of red and dark berries, warm scrub-brush and impressive dark floral notes such as irises and peonies with a hint of tomato leaf… the palate is ultra-crisp and clean! Certainly not what one would expect from such an incredibly hot growing zone, this wine is full of life and fresh fresh fresh! Perky acidity carries flavors of young raspberry and cherry and fine/chewy tannin. The only thing missing for the Bordeaux-lovers in the audience would be that graphite-minerality, but I imagine these are still young vines and are more than capable of giving more to the wine in successive vintages.

FOOD PAIRING would be simple for me: play the wine off local cuisine! I love Mexican food in places like San Luis Obispo or Pismo Beach or Santa Ynez. I’m partial to a great Carne Asada myself; the heavy char flavors, the smokiness, the grilled jalapeno sets everything perfectly and the bright berry tones in the wine will give this terrific balance. If this isn’t close-by, try venison! Wild game always works well with wine that conveys flavors like blueberry and dark cherry which this wine has.

Many thanks to Gallo for the generous sample bottles: I hope that I get to share your story of Who as well as What.

As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes

on premium distillates and cigars:

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About Author


Kristof Gillese: trained chef, certified wine steward, journalist and proud father. In these articles it is the human story that takes priority: to tell the tale of common people accomplishing uncommon goals. In the world of wine these tales are prolific. It has been Chef Kristofs privilege to have worked with luminaries such as Pierre-Henry Gagey of Maison Jadot, Nik Weis of St Urbans-Hof, Ray Signorello of Signorello Estates and Ezra Cipes of Summerhill Pyramid Winery; leaders in the industry. With almost 3 decades of experience working with the synergy between food and wine, Chef Kristof is proud to share the stories of these amazing stewards of the land. These articles are written with a profound reverence for the family aspect to winery culture as, to this writers understanding, nothing has ever had a more far-reaching effect than the love and devotion for a parent to a child. All great wineries are built by parents for their children and it is because of this that Chef Kristof writes.
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