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Syrah, Paso Wine of the Month!

Many of you have probably seen the Paso Wine Man videos (if you haven’t look them up) with their over top and very entertaining twist on wine marketing. The latest series of videos feature a wine of the month and this month’s wine is Syrah! I’m so glad they chose to focus on Syrah this month because the wine has been on my mind quite a lot as of late.

To me, Paso Syrah is a no brainer, it’s almost as if the region and the grape were meant to be. The problem is that the general public is largely unaware of the magnificence of this grape. Believe it or not but Syrah is one of the lowest selling red wines in California and this blows my mind. As I’ve mentioned before, I spend a lot of time traveling our beautiful state tasting our wines with anyone who will give me a minute and I can’t believe how hesitant people often are to even try the Syrah. After a bit of smooth talking I almost always convince them to give it a try and once they do the rest is history.

This is a full-bodied wine full of complex flavors and aromas with a rich smoky oak characteristic that is to die for. Once people try it 9 times out of 10 they are shocked and they love it. The color is deep purple, it’s a great food wine, and I could go on and on. The bottom line is this wine deserves to be featured as wine of the month because people need to be encouraged to give it a shot. All it takes is a taste and you’ll instantly know how special Paso Syrah is!

Luckily, for me, we make multiple Syrahs at Castoro and all have their unique qualities and all are delicious. Our Blind Faith Syrah hails from the east side of Paso and has year after year won Golds, Double Golds and Best of Class awards. We also have our new East Meets West Syrah blend, which blends Syrah grapes from the East and West sides of the Paso appellation. East Meets West is a fun wine and a great introduction to the world of Syrah.

Alas, I will rest my case. If you’re feeling adventurous give Syrah a try, you have my word you will not be disappointed, unless of course you are the 1 out of 10.

(check the link below for the Paso Wine Man Video)

Till Next Time,



ZAP’s Grand Tasting!

Over the weekend, Erik and I were fortunate enough to attend the 2013 Zinfandel Grand Tasting in San Francisco put on by ZAP. We had both heard many stories about the event, some wild and crazy, some critical and some very positive. We decided it was time to see for ourselves how this annual event goes down.

To give you a little history, ZAP stands for Zinfandel Advocates and Producers and is a longtime proponent of all things Zinfandel. This event in San Francisco is one of ZAP’s annual events and boasts thousands of attendees. Not only is the event huge, it runs ALL day long!

Erik and I showed up around 8:45 in the morning to set up, started pouring at 9 and went all the way through till 5pm! It was crazy but we both felt it was worth it and Ill tell you why. First of all, till 2pm the event is industry members and media only, which gives you a chance to meet the people who you may do business with or who have reviewed your wines. Putting a face to a name or organization is a powerful thing and we met some great people. We even met a guy who found our wine for sale in China!

After 2pm the doors open to the general public and that is when things start to get a bit crazy. Luckily for us we had a pretty good location and we never got completely swamped like some of the booths near the entrance. We had a very steady flow of tasters but never too many that we couldn’t take a moment to chat with people and share with them all that is unique about Castoro and our wines. We even met some long time wine club members and a lot of Cal Poly graduates. It’s always fun to find people who love your wines and love visiting the Central Coast!

All in all it was a fun event and we’ll probably be there again next year!



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If Only I Could Age Like Wine . . .

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Like a fine wine, it gets better with time,” but what does that even mean? I found myself asking this very question a few months back while staring at rows of stacked oak barrels. I knew how the wine was made and I loved drinking the finished product, but how does sitting in wood barrels or bottles for months on end transform the stuff I was draining out of tanks to this delicious liquid in my glass. Well turns out Tom and of course Google had the answer.
Let’s start with the chemistry and some fancy wine jargon. Wine is a combination of acids, sugars, alcohols, esters and phenolic compounds all reacting with each other to create various tastes, aromas and textures. As I’m sure you know the sugars, acids and alcohols all come from the grapes and from fermentation, but what are the other two?

Esters sound like something out of a fantasy novel, but turns out they are actually the result of alcohol reacting with the acids and are a main contributing factor in the wine’s aroma. Esters can be broken down and created throughout the aging process causing the wine to constantly change and develop new desirable or undesirable characteristics. Hydrogen, more prevalent in wines with higher acidity, can encourage these reactions to take place and therefore highly acidic wines usually change more in the barrel or bottle
If you are currently drinking a glass of wine while reading this, swirl it around smell it and then taste it. Good, now you’re a little more relaxed, possibly tipsy and my blog magically just got better. Actually jokes aside you just experienced where the Phenolic Compounds of wine come into play. They are responsible for the tastes and smells in not only wine, but all foods.

The most important phenolic compound is one you have probably heard of and is a great love of Cab drinkers called tannins. Tannins are the huggers of the wine compound world, binding to proteins, each other and any other phenolic compound that looks like it needs some love. When tannins bind to the proteins in your saliva it inhibits your saliva’s ability to lubricate your mouth causing a bitter taste and a puckering sensation. This is also why high tannic red wines taste better with red meat. As tannins bind to each other over time they become heavier and sink to the bottom of the barrel as sediment. This is why wine will taste smoother or creamier as it is aged for longer. When tannins bind to other phenolic compounds it keeps them from evaporating. This helps the wine hold on to old flavors as it develops new ones, resulting in a wine that is more complex. As a kicker, tannins also help preserve wine by preventing oxidation.

Now take a deep breath because you’re going to need some oxygen to finish the aging process for the wine and yourself. When Oxygen hits alcohol it creates acetic acid, or vinegar while also altering the wines color. You want to limit the amount of oxygen in contact with the wine, however, because too much vinegar will turn the wine undrinkable, just pour it on your fish and chips. Aged red wine becomes brick-colored while white wine becomes golden brown. Like using lemons to prevent apples from oxidizing, wines with higher acidity will take more time to turn brown. Therefore highly acidic wines are better candidates for aging. Oxygen also helps combine the woodsy flavors of the oak with the fruity flavors in the wine by transferring phenolic compounds between the two. After a while the wine will take on more earthy, nutty flavors to combine with the fruity flavors. Bottle aging won’t add flavors like oak does, but the wine will continue to change as it reacts with itself and as oxygen, from the cork, breaks down compounds like tartaric acid creating what wine connoisseurs call a beautiful bouquet.

Aging wine is an art and so far there is no technology to tell us exactly what we will get when we finally pop the bottle open. By keeping wine in cool, about 55°F, damp areas, 70% humidity, we can promote the best aging possible, but only time will tell when the wine will taste its best.
That’s all I have for now, all this wine talk is making me thirsty.

Thanks for Reading,


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