After Jordan Fiorentini’s intriguing and intoxicating tour of the inner workings of Epoch, Terry, Pat, Jim, and I retired to Epoch’s welcoming tasting room, where we were plied with seven offerings, mostly new releases, with a couple of older vintages so that we can see how Jordan’s wines matured.
Tasting with other folks demonstrates how differently we taste, perceive and enjoy (or detest) wine. The participation of Pat and Jim Hansen highlighted this effectively.
A couple of examples. The first wine was the 2020 York Mountain Viognier. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t getting a lot of fruit, and it seemed a touch thin. But Pat could not rave enough about it. She gave it a 98, while Jim described it as fresh and peachy. And Terry, as always, provided perceptive notes on why she was quite taken by this. She wrote, “Stone fruit on the nose, with a hint of lemon and tropical fruit. Tastes of peach and flowers, like gardenia. Long, smooth finish. Great acidic balance. Fruity/flavorful.”
Later in the tasting we had the 2018 Ingenuity. Not Pat’s cup of tea. A bit dry and not as fruity as she generally likes. In contrast, for me, this was the second-best wine of the afternoon. I got tobacco aromas and pepper notes. Even though this is a 5-year-old wine, I predict more maturation will enhance the dark berry and earthy tastes that linger below the surface now. I made sure we had a couple of bottles to take home with us.
To me, this wine also illustrates Jordan’s genius. Many winemakers offer their takes on petite sirah, but their wines seldom shine. This is a difficult varietal to make cellar-worthy as it can easily overwhelm the taster with boldness and deeply intense flavors. But Jordan married this non-Rhone grape with Rhone stalwarts of syrah, mourvedre and grenache, resulting in a powerful but still approachable drink.
Vince, who has worked a harvest at Epoch, conducted the tasting for us. And, like a good conductor, he guided us from one wine to the next, spotlighting the distinctive characteristics of each.
He also listened to us. Terry and I crave a good tempranillo but find that most wineries outside of Spain can’t coax the delight this grape can offer when done well. We mentioned this to Vince, who then went into the back room and brought out what proved to be the one bottle we could all agree on, Epoch’s 2012 Tempranillo.
Terry described it as blackberry, cherry, vanilla and baking spices. The palate offered fresh fruit (this from a wine 11 years old!). The tannins were well-rounded (as opposed to being mouth-drying and dominant), with a wonderful long finish. My notes were simpler and more direct – outstanding, with a finish that lingered long after I put down the glass. Pat and Jim didn’t have much to say, other than the fact that they bought three bottles, which at $125 each, was testimony enough.
As always, Epoch’s wines were a delight. If you are ever in Paso Robles, make it a point to stop by. To paraphrase what the guy from Men’s Wearhouse used to say, “You’re going to love the wines you sample there – I guarantee it.”
Carl Kanowsky is an attorney, a fledgling baker, an enthusiastic cook and an expert wine drinker.