It all starts in the vineyard! Here at Le Vigne Winery, we strive to produce elegant wines that convey their unique vineyard origins and that are true to the varietal.
With Paso Robles being so incredibly diverse in topography, climate, and soil type, wines from the area differ dramatically across the terrain of the region. As one of the largest and fastest growing wine regions in the country (now with over 300 wineries, and still expanding), the possibilities for unique and expressive wines to be made are endless. Thanks to the subdividing of the Paso Robles AVA into 11 smaller AVAs in 2014, each region has since been able to develop a clearer identity for themselves and the wines that they produce. The wines in our Appellation Series, Le Vigne Paso Robles, accomplish this purpose as they are carefully crafted to tell the story from the particular area in which the grapes are planted.
You might find yourself asking, just how diverse is the Paso Robles terroir and how does it affect the grapes that are planted throughout the region? First, take a look at the image below, and you will see each of the 11 AVAs clearly outlined.
Each AVA contains a different range of soil types, temperature, and topography, which can affect the growth of grape varietals in different ways. For example, the westernmost sub-AVAs in the Santa Lucia mountains run up to 2,400 feet in elevation with calcareous soils and receive rainfall close to 30 inches annually. Rhone varietals tend to flourish in this area, with concentrated flavors and high acidity amplified by the high pH found in the soil. By contrast, the sub-AVAs in the East reach elevations of about 1,600 feet, and experience very little rainfall, with diurnal shifts by as much as 50 degrees. This area is great for Spanish and Portuguese varietals, especially bold, muscular wines with deep color and high extraction. And those near the center of it all, including our own estate, hover around elevations ranging from 700-1600ft on alluvial, clay, and loamy soils, and receive moderate annual rainfall. These AVAs appear to be superb for Spanish and Italian varietals, as well as bold reds (particularly Cabernet Sauvignon) and blends.
So how can we see the story of the grapes through the wines that we produce under our Appellation Series?
The grapes that we use for our Reserve and Appellation series are planted in our three estate vineyards, located in the Paso Robles Estrella District (AVA). In this area, the most prominent feature is its great diurnal shifts in temperature, which can spike well over 100 degrees in the hot summer days before dropping by as much as fifty degrees come nightfall. The high temperatures and intense sunlight exposure push the vines to grow plump, sweet grapes, while the cooler nighttime temperatures enhance physiological ripeness and allow them to maintain refreshing levels of acidity. The area is on the drier side, receiving a light amount of annual rainfall that rarely pushes 15 inches. Although this can reduce the overall yield of the harvest, it stresses the grapes into further concentrating their flavors. The result of the light rainfall is a more complex wine, with richer tannins and structure.
The mixture of soil types in the vineyards also plays an important role in the end result. The sandy and loamy parts of the soil help to both hold water and allow it to drain freely. In other areas, the alluvial and clay soil helps to retain warmth from the sunlight and nutrients in the soil to allow for a more muscular, colorful wine. This is an ideal combination of soils for growing winegrapes, allowing sufficient oxygen for the roots to breathe while retaining moisture and nutrients for the plants. And the result is almost always a brilliantly colorful, muscular, and complex wine, richly evident of the story that its grapes tell.
Now, here’s a closer look at each of the latest releases in our Le Vigne Paso Robles Series. Due to the terroir in which the grapes were planted, these wines are tastefully acidic, with vibrant tannins and rich colors that exemplify the Paso Robles AVA. Here you can see how the flavors and mouthfeel are affected by the terrior:
2016 Le Vigne Paso Robles Sauvignon Blanc
This wine maintains a refreshing acidity throughout the tasting experience, no doubt encouraged by cool nighttime temperatures in the vineyard from which these grapes were harvested. Citrus aromatics of grapefruit and Meyer lemon meet the nose, layering brightly over subtle jasmine notes. Inviting flavors of gala apple and candied tangerine dance on the palate, before ending with a satisfyingly crisp finish.
2014 Le Vigne Paso Robles Central Coast Chardonnay
The moderately humid summer during which these grapes developed may have stressed the vines, but prevented dehydration and allowed great hang time while the sugars in these grapes developed. The resulting wine boasts aromas of honeysuckle and Bartlett pear, before evolving into lychee on the mid-palate. A hint of flinty minerality in the mouthfeel (no doubt from the clay in the soil) adds another layer of complexity along with layering flavors of Granny Smith apples, candied orange peel, and plantain.
2016 Le Vigne Paso Robles Viognier
White wines from 2016 hold resolutely true to the varietal, while still portraying their characteristics with a stoic nod to the terroir. Another refreshingly acidic wine, this Viognier is medium in body and ambrosial in taste. The warmth and richness of sandy loam soil in the Domenico Vineyard is made evident in the aromas of honey and powdered sugar on the nose. The palate is met with zesty flavors of freshly sliced green apple and caramel, before coasting to a lengthy and bright finish characteristic of the varietal.
2016 Le Vigne Paso Robles Rosé
This dry Rosé is made completely from Syrah grapes on young vines, superbly juicy from from their time spent in the intense sunlight during the long summer days. The palate is greeted with an unmistakably fresh acidity, bursting with flavors of watermelon and strawberries. Hints of toffee unfold from fermentation in barrels, with a lively mouthfeel and crisp, clean finish that will leave your mouth watering for another sip.
2014 Le Vigne Paso Robles Merlot
A primed nose with tobacco and espresso bean develops into olive and cherry, exploding at the mid-palate with blueberry and a kick of white pepper. Flavors of orange zest are noticeable on the palate (a prominently known feature of East Paso Robles soil contribution, especially at the Acquarello Vineyard where this merlot was grown.) Vibrant tannins carry a sensation of dried fig and dissipate with a hint of carnauba.
2014 Le Vigne Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon
The intense sunlight and heat that parched the vineyards ultimately yielded this highly complex and beautifully jammy Cabernet Sauvignon. The clay soil in the vineyard helped the vines retain nutrients and fertility, allowing for the gorgeous purple-red hue that will stand out in your glass. The nose is gifted with savory aromas of thyme, bay leaf, and rye as flavors of ripe huckleberry, cocoa powder, and cassis drench the palate. Tannins are mature and satisfying, leaving just a breath of strawberry and violet on the finish.
2014 Le Vigne Paso Robles Zinfandel
Red wines from this vintage are characteristically known for their silky red fruit flavors and mature tannins. The clay soil in which the vines are planted brings about a clean graphite mouthfeel as nutty tannins dance on the tongue. Sumptuous aromas of fig and molten brown sugar meet the nose as the palate finds complex, jammy flavors of blackberry, blueberry, and cranberry.