I went to Peachy Canyon today. I haven’t had Peachy Canyon for probably almost 20 years but there’s one consistent thing that goes through all of my threads when Zinfandel comes up in the conversation–especially when we’re talking about low-alcohol Zinfandels or Zinfandel with balance or without exuberant alcohol–people always mention Peachy Canyon. I do not remember them being exactly a winery which produces Zinfandel with restraint–I seem to recall them being just another rather boring and tourist-driven Paso Robles brand. So I did something I almost NEVER do: I visited a tasting room. Because I have an open mind. People think I either get a brand in my mind I hate and lambast them endlessly, OR, they think I just flat-out HATE all things Paso Robles. BOTH are very wrong. It was 11 o’clock on a Monday and I was driving by so I thunketh to myself, “Let’s visit Peachy Canyon!” It didn’t go horribly.
They make 7 or 8 Zinfandels, a couple whites, a rosé (the attendant did not know what saignée was but I will not hold that against the winery), and the general run-down of Merlot, Cab, and various blends. No Syrah or Grenache was spotted. The place was quiet and calm, I deflected questions about where I was visiting from, petted the friendly cats, took no pictures (hense the file-photo) and moved quickly into the $10-for-6-wines menu.
The first Reserve Zinfandel (Clevenger) was cloying on the nose in classic fruit-FWD pruney Zinfandel-style. Sick-y sweet fruit it tasted better than it smelled, but I only tasted it because she was watching me. It wasn’t bad and was *only* in the high fourteens. The second Reserve Zinfandel, the Especial, was a much more subdued version, though it rang in at 15-2. A serious fruit concoction headed into Cab territory, it didn’t really smell or taste like your typical big jammy Zinfandel at all. Quite interesting and very nice! This is a winner. The 3rd Zinfandel was not a reserve–again in the hi-14’s–and had a bit of a funky situation going on–more of a Primitivo style, roiling in acid and Euro typicity. I kind of forced myself to taste it as well in order to expand my mind and be fair to all parties.
And then I turned the page over. Their least expensive Paso Robles 2013 Cabernet was a lean mean little piece of work, not big and flabby at all. Acid-driven with subtle fruit and tannin it was really quite well done. I was pleasantly surprised! Moved on to the $55 Bordeaux blend and found it flabby and SMOOOOOTH. Not much going on here. Everything interesting had been blended out in favor of a plush polished mouthful with hardly any interest. No tannin, no depth, no structure, little fruit. Last but not least I had to try the Petite Sirah–being one of my favorite grapes. It was black black thick black as night and thick and oxidized I didn’t taste it.
I totally wouldn’t throw the Especial Zinfandel of the Paso Cabernet outa bed. It would be fun to run a full bottle through the blog in typical fashion. They’d probably both fare quite well. Turns out the Zinfandels are indeed NOT hi-octane pancake syrups, and the wines are solid.