While we were being charmed by Jordan Fiorentini of Paso Robles’ Epoch Estate Wines, she also plied us with her bottled creations. And, yes, they definitely influenced our impressions.
Like many wineries in the Paso region, Rhone varietals predominate the production. Syrah, grenache and mourvedre for the reds; grenache blanc, viognier and roussanne for the whites.
But, not willing to leave well enough alone, Jordan also blends in petite sirah and zinfandel.
We started with her 2018 rosé. If you’ve read many of my columns, you know that I find most rosés a close relation to white zinfandel, not much better than jug wine. Everyone seems to make it and only a few well. Jordan falls into the latter category. A blend of mourvedre, grenache and syrah, the whole cluster press is aged for four months in stainless steel barrels. Refreshing, flavorful, its texture, acidity and balance result in a refreshing $30 bottle that hits with a great tang at the end.
According to Jordan, cool nights help her grenache blanc mature well. Highlighted by a lovely tropical bouquet, the crisp 2018 white (a blend of grenache blanc, viognier and roussanne) features a palate of banana, citrus and grass.
While we enjoyed the 2015 Sensibility (96% grenache), Jordan explained her concept known as vinpression. One side of a 5- by 8-inch card provides stats on the wine similar to dating web sites for vinophiles, with sections like “My Profile” and “My Stats.” These tell you what vineyard produced the wine (in this case, 83% from Paderewski), its birth weight (26.1° brix), and other info. On the reverse side, Jordan has drawn her concept of her encounter with the wine, going from bouquet to impact on palate to overall impression. Going against tradition, Fiorentini ferments this grenache in concrete and stainless steel tanks. Powerful, with beautiful black fruit and some minerality, it has some tannins to go with its long finish.
To get some brightness, the 2015 Veracity (a GMS blend) is partially aged in concrete tulips. Bottled two years ago, it’s meaty, has outstanding coffee and blackberry notes, and smells like baking spices. I’d give it an hour of breathing time before serving to let everything come together. The tannins are mellow, but they are there.
The next two are essentially syrah and mourvedre blends, with a few different grapes thrown into each. The 2015 Estate Blend (made originally mainly for restaurants but now available to all due to its popularity) is 13% grenache, while the 2015 Ingenuity is 14% petite sirah (a variety with wild tendencies that can be difficult to tame). True to its restaurant market, the Estate Blend is European in style, meaning it’s more even keeled, not too fruit forward, a perfect characteristic for a wine meant to be enjoyed with food. The Ingenuity is still young. This muscular red with four powerful grapes comes across as quite masculine now, almost like a 16-year old boy still discovering who he is. But time should allow for the pepper and extraordinarily dark fruit to mature.
And we conclude with the wine of the tasting. Both Terry and I really enjoy tempranillos from Spain’s Ribera Del Duero. Unfortunately, not too many New World wineries can coax out Tempranillo’s subtleties of the strength of a cabernet but toned down close to a pinot. Jordan nailed it. This outstanding effort aged for almost three years in French oak and then sat in the bottle for another three. A world-class Tempranillo taxes the winemaker’s patience but offers a significant reward. This 2013 Reserva Tempranillo offers blackberry and smooth fruit over the entire palate and concludes with a long, beautiful finish. A triumph!
Our impression of Epoch and Jordan – a world-class operation with succulent wines.
By the way, there are two important wine events happening in August. On Aug. 17 at Napa’s Culinary Institute, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate is hosting “Matter of Taste.” For the money, you can’t find a better collection of luminary wines in one location. Tickets at https://a-matter-of-taste.com/en/event/Napa2019. Then, closer to home, from Aug. 22 to 25, sample some of L.A.’s best food at the Ninth annual L.A. Food and Wine Festival. All sorts of fun. Tickets at lafw.com.
See you there.