Carl Kanowsky: Epoch’s epic wine-tasting for the Boys & Girls Club

Carl Kanowsky is an attorney, a fledgling baker, an enthusiastic cook and an expert wine drinker.
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If you missed Epoch’s spectacular wine tasting at Salt Creek Grille, then you missed an epic event. Fabulous wine, delicious food and strong community support for an important local resource for the Santa Clarita Valley’s youth, namely the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita.

“One January Night” featured the wines of Paso Robles’ esteemed winery, Epoch, and was highlighted by Epoch’s acclaimed winemaker, Jordan Fiorentini. An added bonus was Jordan’s husband, Emanuele Fiorentini, a wine industry fixture based in Paso.

The three-and-a-half-hour event began with Epoch’s 2018 Rosé, a delightful blending of mourvedre, grenache and syrah, fermented in stainless steel barrels. It paired delightfully with Chef Tamra Levine’s passed appetizer, lobster potstickers. Wow, such high-class fare at a charitable event!

By the way, Greg Amsler, Salt Creek’s proprietor, again demonstrated why he was such an excellent selection as SCV’s Man of the Year a while back. Without Greg and Jennifer Chadwick, Salt Creek’s director of sales, and the tasty product of Chef Tamra, these events would not be possible.

The rosé was followed by the 2018 Estate White Wine served with roasted kabocha squash (unexpectedly quite tasty) and smoked scallops. The white, a mix of grenache blanc, viognier and roussanne, had great minty, citrusy and stone qualities. My guess is that it could age for a few years and evolve into something more complex.

Jordan introduced each wine, providing background on its harvest, fermentation and unique characteristics, while also answering questions about her background, the winery and wine in general. To the delight of most of the attendees, she gave everyone a piece of slate from Paso, inviting the guests to lick it, to experience how the minerals contribute to the final product. I say “delight of most” because not everyone was brave enough to give the stone a taste. Their loss.

Jordan then treated us with the 2015 Epoch Veracity, a meaty combo of 51% mourvedre, 36% grenache and 13% syrah, which was paired with perfect medallions of pork. The wine features coffee and blackberry notes with enticing aromas of baking spices. It’s a great example of how wine can stimulate so many senses, with its color, its aroma and its flavors.

Next, we enjoyed the 2015 Sensibility, 96% grenache. This demonstrated what grenache can do on its own. Dark chocolate and cherries, with robust fruit, it also had an intriguing bouquet of blackberries and tobacco. 

The 2014 Estate Blend (syrah, mourvedre, grenache and a touch of tempranillo) gave the audience a chance to see the impact age has on wine. The tannins had mellowed, and the flavors had morphed into a coherent picture of berries and fruit. Wine Advocate just rated it 92, saying, “Medium to full-bodied, it’s packed with savory-laced fruits and firmly framed with just enough freshness, finishing long and nuanced.” Salt Creek served Tuscan steak atop spaghetti squash carbonara. Cooked elegantly with the spaghetti squash, this was a dish to remember.

We reluctantly (reluctantly, because no one wanted to leave) concluded with the 2013 Block B Syrah, a real taste treat that Wine Advocate awarded a lofty 97! This blockbuster is a rare find, since only about 5,000 bottles were produced and it’s 7 years old. Heavy (but well-balanced) with black fruits and leather, and aromas of forest floor, this is a wine to savor. A great one with roasted lamb. Jordan has the talent to let her grapes become individual works of art. Thank you for sharing them with us.

By the way, because of the generosity of Jordan, her husband (who donated a dozen bottles of prestigious Paso wine as an auction item), Epoch, Salt Creek, and the 80 folks in attendance, the Boys & Girls Club raised $26,000 to assist in its efforts to help our local kids thrive.

And a special shout-out to Bill and Liz Armstrong, Epoch’s owners, for their donation — a weekend adventure for two couples in Paso Robles, including lodging at the Epoch property. Then, when Jordan saw how this excited the bidders, she doubled that, resulting in that one auction item selling for $11,000!

Thank you, Bill and Liz, for this and for lending us Jordan for an evening.

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