Anglim Winery: 40th Birthday Road Trip

The tasting room for Anglim Winery is housed in Paso Robles’ historic train station. The rail tracks still run behind the building, and while we were there, the one Amtrak train of the day came through, as you can see by the photo below.

Amtrak train at Anglim Winery

Riders of Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, might I suggest staying overnight in Paso Robles and making Anglim Winery your first stop? Trust me, you’ll thank me later. Steffanie Anglim, who poured for us, is lovely, the wines are great, and they often have cheeses out (we liked the Barely Buzzed from Beehive Cheese Company).

Anglim Winery

2008 Grenache Blanc: We were surprised to taste this again at Anglim. We’d never seen a grenache blanc before, and now we had two in one day! This was very different from Ortman’s version. It had a subtle smell of pears, and the flavor was reminiscent of clementines and the tartness of grapefruit (but none of the bitterness).

2007 Rousanne: This smelled of honey and kiwis; in fact, the scent reminded me powerfully of a honey kiwi ice cream I had on board an Air New Zealand flight from Melbourne to Auckland about nine years ago. It was very tasty, with flavors of honey and grapefruit.

2007 Pinot Noir: These grapes came from the Fiddlestix vineyard, the same vineyard from which Ortman sources the grapes for their pinot noir. The two share some flavor elements. This had an aroma of caramel and raspberries. When I tasted it, I was first hit with the “brulee” element of creme brulee. Then I tasted plums and blackberries, followed by leather at the finish.

2008 Pinot Noir: This smelled of honey, that brulee part of creme brulee, leather and fresh laundry. It was a fruit-forward wine with elements of caramel and a strong flavor of leather on the finish. It was my favorite pinot noir of the day.

2006 Grenache: It smelled like blackberries and coffee grounds. The flavor was well-rounded, reminiscent of raspberries and cherries, with tannins highlighted at the finish.

2007 Mourvèdre: I smelled peppers, spices and something savory. That savoriness was echoed in the taste, which had pepper paprika, bacon (says the vegetarian) and a hit of fruit that came right after the tannins. This was a complex wine I could drink for days just to try to get my head around it.

2005 Best Barrel Blend: This smelled like a great dinner, with aromas of spicy Spanish plums, tomatoes, pepperoni and steak. The complexity continued on the palate, with flavors of pepperoni, plum and blackberry.

2006 Cabernet Franc: I could only describe the scent as “spicy deep red.” As I tasted it, I got a hint of caramel, then a hard hit of pepper and spice, and a little bit of savory tannins on the finish.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: The smell was complex: vanilla, lacquer and a subtle scent of savory spices. My tasting notes are as follows: “Just YUM!!!!”

2006 Gorgeous Port: It lives up to its name. It was very savory for a port, with rich raisins and a flavor that reminded me, in the best possible way, of A-1 sauce. I cannot have A-1 sauce anymore due to food allergies, but I think I could happily replace it with Gorgeous Port three nights a week.

Ortman Family Vineyards: 40th Birthday Road Trip

Ortman Family Vineyards
1317 Park Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446 (map)

Things looked a little dicey due to work commitments, but in the end we were able to get out of town on my 40th birthday. Our first stop was a town we’d visited on our first vacation together, Paso Robles.

All of the winery tasting rooms we’d visited on that trip – the apparently-defunct Midlife Crisis, the recently-relocated Edward Sellars and the in-limbo Silverstone) are closed now, but downtown Paso is still loaded with great tasting rooms. For our first stop, we chose one that’s only been open for a few months: Ortman Family Vineyards.

Ortman Family Wines tasting room

Ortman Family Wines has a cozy tasting room loaded with works from local artists. They also, thoughtfully, have handbag hooks all around the tasting bar. I don’t think Mike ever notices these things, but I do and I’m very appreciative of them. (I do notice! – M)

Tasting room staffer Holly, who poured for us, was friendly and warm and very complimentary about my landmark birthday. The wines were lovely, but Holly would have made it enjoyable even if they’d been terrible.

Ortman Family Vineyards

2008 Grenache Blanc: Few people make whites out of grenache grapes. This was an unusual, but very enjoyable wine; in fact, its startling taste was part of what made it so enjoyable. It smelled of toffee and butterscotch, and tasted of toffee and minerals, with a satisfyingly balanced sour finish.

2008 Chardonnay: This wine comes from the Etna Valley appellation, adding yet another AVA to our list! It smelled warm and woody. Those warm wood flavors softened the acid edges of this chardonnay.

2008 Pinot Noir: And we continued to rack up the AVAs with this San Luis Obispo County wine! This smelled of butterscotch and fruit. It tasted of fruit and capsaicin, and when I say capsaicin I mean both a hint of the sweet start of a bell pepper as well as a spicy finish usually found in the more aggressive members of the capsicum family. Really enjoyable.

2007 Pinot Noir: This Santa Rita Hills wine was the third appellation of the day — and we’d only tasted four wines! It had a toffee-coated grape smell. The flavor was profoundly grape-y, with a little toffee and a hint of a bitter finish.

2008 Sangiovese: Sangiovese is a particular varietal that Mike is intrigued by. He’s searching for a flavor that he tasted once upon a time at Pomodoro Cucina Italiano years ago (with some other woman, ahem). I don’t know if he found it here, but I sure found this wine to be lovely. I smelled sugar, caramel, a little molé, and pepperoni. When I sipped it, there was fruit on the front and paprika at the finish. And, since this was from the Paso Robles AVA, it was our fourth AVA of the day!

2006 Syrah: Yum. This smelled of chocolate, coffee and toffee. It tasted of sour blackberries, pomegranate and a hint of cranberries.

2007 Cuvee Eddy: It smelled of stewed tomatoes, prunes and oaks. The tomato element was evident in the taste, as well. I eat tomatoes like they’re apples, so I loved this.