On tuesday I got the email that told me of my pending golden ticket. Wednesday it arrived, a 2009 Austin Hope Grenache. I quickly tried to line up a co-taster and made plans for one of my best wine-drinking friends to come over and drink it with me tonight (Thursday). I'm a fan of Paso Robles wines; the only wine club of which I'm a member is in Paso (Tobin James, if you're curious), and am familiar with and enjoy the jammy style that is common for the region.
I got home from work an threw together a quick meal of black pepper pork loin (Trader Joe's ftw), sauteed squash and some balsamic figs, prosciutto and goat cheese. We opened the wine and gave it a go. A bit thin straight out of the bottle, not much body, but also pleasantly surprised that it was pretty restrained and didn't hit you over the head with alcohol (15.5%!) or fruit. This was a nice change from the usual Paso wine, perhaps a bit more old world than you'd expect from California. At this point, we both agreed that we tasted a bit of black pepper, and I got a hint of plum or something.
Now we paired it with the food and it went great with the pork, but seemed to get a bit lost with the figs. Poured a bit more, this time through a Venturi. It definitely seemed to open up a bit, with flavors of stonefruit and a bit of dark chocolate coming through. As the bottle, and evening, wore on, more flavor and character really started to come through. Thsi wine definitely will ebenfit from some time and/or decanting. We both commented on the medium tannins -- they were there, but didn't leave you pickering. When we started talking finish, the words that were discussed were "gasoline", but not in a bad way, "acid" and "bluberry".
We readily drank the bottle and enjoyed it, and is a must but for the woot price, but a bit of a harder sell for the from-the-winery price. It could be described as a great first date wine -- it's a good, solid wine, won't offend anyone, but might not be the highlight of the evening. If you do order, it needs some air, but definitely has decent QPR at this price.