Carl Kanowsky | Epoch in the time of a pandemic

Carl Kanowsky

As some of you may remember, I’ve written three times about Epoch Winery and its esteemed winemaker, Jordan Fiorentini. So, once more into the breach.

In August 2020, my wife, Terry, and I met up with one of my sisters, June, to be specific, at Epoch in an effort to determine whether Jordan was maintaining her lofty standards. June had never been to a wine tasting before, so I counted on her responses to Jordan’s wines to be enlightening.

The world is awash with rosé wine and most is, at best, inconsequential. Usually, it’s one-dimensional and moderately sweet. Paso Robles has two winemakers that go against the grain and produce noteworthy rosés. Guillaume Fabre, proprietor of Clos Solene, makes an ethereal blush wine that sings and is a worthy investment. The other is Jordan. She’s nailed rosé — it’s got dimensions and a lasting finish, things not normally seen in these kinds of vino. Her 2019 Rosé was poured for us. Light salmon in color, it offers up raspberry and strawberry floral notes. And contrary to the overwhelming trend, it’s dry but still fruity. It’s an excellent rosé that would go well with grilled fish or Mexican food. This was June’s favorite, rating it a 90.

Next up was the 2019 White, a creative blend of 47% grenache blanc, 42% viognier, and 11% roussanne. It’s fermented in a combination of concrete egg, concrete tulip, and French oak cask, barrels and puncheons. Then it is briefly aged four months sur lie: 53% in concrete and 47% in French oak barrels (14% new). We really enjoyed the dry shale and stone fruit tastes. Not a whole lot of bouquet (maybe needed more air time and to warm slightly) but still outstanding.

June Riley, sister of Signal columnist Carl Kanowsky, tastes a flight of wine at Epoch Winery in Paso Robles. Photo courtesy of Terry Kanowsky

We tasted a number of additional wines, but I will limit this column to two of our favorites.

Let’s start with the 2016 Veracity, a unique blend: 51% mourvèdre, 36% grenache, 13% syrah. Mourvèdre doesn’t usually star in the blend. As Wikipedia puts it, “Mourvèdre often provides color, fruit and some tannic structure to complement the fruity grenache and elegant syrah.” So, more of a supporting role. But in the Veracity, it is the highlight. Great berry flavor, distinct pepper, and cherry with a pleasing, long finish. This was one of Terry’s top two, giving it a 94. She’s in good company. Here are some ratings from other reviewers: Jeb Dunnuck 98, Vinous 98, Wine Enthusiast 95, Wine Advocate 93, Wine Spectator 93.

Jordan had the 2014 Estate Blend added to our tasting. Thank you! An amazing wine. This was my favorite of the morning. As its eponymous name declares, this is a blend: 36% syrah, 36% mourvèdre, 22% grenache, 6% tempranillo. Aged about 18 months: 31% new French oak and 69% neutral oak. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Not sure where to attribute the licorice and meat notes (was it the tempranillo?), but those along with the dark berry flavors made for a delicious combination. I gave it a 95.

We also appreciated these wines as well: the 2016 Sensibility; the 2016 Estate Blend; and the 2015 Zinfandel, June’s other favorite.

With this tasting, Jordan again demonstrated her mastery of a wide range of grapes and styles. And she won over a new devotee in the form of my sister, June. Next time you are in the area, be sure to visit Epoch, a crown jewel of Paso.

Carl Kanowsky is an attorney, a fledgling baker, an enthusiastic cook and an expert wine drinker.

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