Capri Ristorante – McLean, VA

PRESENTERS: Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez

TYPE :  Blind

PARTICIPANTS: Juan Luis Colaiacovo, Orlando Mason, Orlando Reos, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Peter Scherer


The presenters selected one white and four red wines for this tasting.  All the reds are blends of Rhone style in a price range from $20 to $60.  Three reds  and the white are from the Central Coast in California (Paso robles and Santa Barbara) a fourth is from Gigondas, Rhone valley in France. The objectives and challenges of this tasting are:

  • Identify the old world bottle
  • Identify the type of blend (Super Tuscan, Bordeaux, Meritage, Rhone, etc.)
  • Identify the regions
  • Identify the base variety of the blends
  • Establish a ranking of preference
  • Determine the best buy, once te prices are divulged

(From Wine Searcher) Paso Robles has made a name for itself as a source of supple, fruity, and powerful wines. With 11 smaller sub-AVAs, there is quite a bit of diversity to be found in this inland portion of California’s Central Coast. This is mostly red wine country, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel standing out as the star performers. Other popular varieties include Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, and Rhône varieties both red and white. There is a fairly uniform tendency here towards wines that are unapologetically bold and opulently fruity, albeit with a surprising amount of acidity thanks to the region’s chilly nighttime temperatures.

Ballard Canyon is an AVA encompassed within the larger Santa Ynez Valley region of California’s famous Santa Barbara County. The 3157-hectare (7800-acre) viticultural area was officially recognized as an AVA in October 2013, but has long been highly regarded for its red wines made from Syrah and Grenache. In fact, approximately half of the AVA’s vineyards are devoted to Syrah.  The viticultural region lies to the west of the Happy Canyon AVA and east of the AVA of Sta. Rita Hills. Ballard Canyon itself is a long, thin canyon that runs in a curve from north to south and is surrounded by a myriad of smaller canyons interspersed with dry, rugged hills. The soils in the Ballard Canyon AVA are more uniform than in the larger Santa Ynez Valleyand are made up of sand and clay loam with good drainage capacities. Limestone, too, is present in certain northern vineyard plots. Vines planted in the steeper vineyard sites are able to develop deep root systems in search of water in the AVA’s arid environment, thereby increasing vine strength. The good level of calcium in Ballard Canyon’s soils ensures the development of thick skins and increases the concentration of tannins, sugars and acids in the grapes, leading to richly flavored, well-balanced wines.

These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Tenshen White Blend, Santa Barbara
  2. 2016 Daou Vineyards Pessimist Red Blend, Paso Robles 
  3. 2015 Domain Du Cayron Gigondas, Gigondas, Rohne
  4. 2015 L’Aventure Optimus, Paso Robles
  5. 2015 Piedrasassi Harrison Clarke Vineyard, Santa Barbara


  1. Gazpacho
  2. Risotto de fungi
  3. Veal ravioli with meat sauce
  4. Grilled steak potatoes and vegetables
  5. Dessert and/or coffee


(All information obtained and condensed from several Internet articles.)

2016 Tenshen White Blend, Santa Barbara 

The Wine: Winemaker Notes. Aromas of tangerine and ripe melon lead to flavors of peach and apricot. Balanced acidity and juicy honeysuckle accent the finish with a hint of hazelnut. Rhone Style White Blend: Viognier, Rousanne, Grenache Blanc, Chardonnay.

The Winery: Alex Guarachi. Over 30 years ago, Alex Guarachi came to the United States from Chile on a soccer scholarship. When an injury shattered his athletic dreams, he went back to his roots for inspiration on what to do next. Alex embraced his other passion: the wines of his homeland. Having worked from a garage and performing every task, Alex eventually built his wine import company, Guarachi Wine Partners, into one of the industry’s leading companies and in 2010 was honored as Importer of the Year by Wine Enthusiast.

Julian Gonzalez. Gonzalez was Lead Winemaker for all Paul Hobbs Consulting programs from 2007 to 2016. Prior to that, Gonzalez worked under winemaker and mentor, Rolando Herrera, at Mi Sueno, Argentina’s Vina Cobos and Paul Hobbs Winery in addition to working in the cellars at Stag’s Leap, Dominus Estate and Louis M. Martini Winery. Gonzalez has multiple 100-point wines under his pedigree.

Read More about the winery here:

2016 Daou Vineyards Pessimist Red Blend, Paso Robles

The Wine: The Pessimist is a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Tannat.

Deep red color with dark tints. Exotic nose of raspberry, mulberry, and apricot. Very fresh and spicy in the mouth with blackberry flavors.

Not only does it show the vintage’s ripe fruit in the form of red plums, stone fruit and supple tannins, it still retains fine details like wisps of fennel, cracked pepper and a long, licorice-tinged finish.

The Winery(From In the golden, oak-studded hills of Paso Robles’ fabled west side, not far from William Randolph Hearst’s magnificent castle, there is a man with a Homeric vision. His name is Daniel Daou and he is devoting his life and every imaginable resource to creating, first and foremost, a Cabernet Sauvignon that rivals the very best in the world.

Gracefully perched atop a stunning promontory at 2,200 feet, the DAOU Spanish Colonial style winery is embraced by a tangible serenity. Hawks wheel and bank while the all-day sun caresses close planted rows of lush, emerald green vines. The 100 percent calcareous soil makes no sound as it passes out nourishment and only a gentle breeze flows up through the Templeton Gap from the Pacific. The quiet is bewitching; you want to lay down roots here, just as the four-year-old vines have done. But the sense of peace belies the serious industry at work on this 100 acre estate. No effort is spared to create the luscious varietals and blends that flow from this limited production winery. This kind of synergy happens rarely: superlative climate and terroir, super intensive vineyard culture, and cutting edge viticultural practice. You’re more likely to find it in Bordeaux than Central California. Coupled with the infectious passion and gracious, family style hospitality of the Daou brothers, Georges and Daniel, the result is pure magic. The kind of magic that comes in a bottle.

Read more about  here:

2015 Domain Du Cayron Gigondas, Gigondas, Rohne 

The Wine : Winemaker Notes: Deep red color with dark tints. Exotic nose of raspberry, mulberry, and apricot. Very fresh and spicy in the mouth with blackberry flavors.Enjoy on its own or pair with Beef Burgundy, red meat, game and cheeses.

RP: The tank sample of Domaine du Cayron’s 2015 Gigondas looks to be excellent. Not only does it show the vintage’s ripe fruit in the form of red plums, stone fruit and supple tannins, it still retains fine details like wisps of fennel, cracked pepper and a long, licorice-tinged finish. Drink this slightly warm, full-bodied wine from release through 2025.

Indicative blend: 70% Grenache, 15% Cinsault 14% Syrah, 1% Mourvedre.

The Winery: The Domaine de Cayron has been run by the Faraud family for the past four generations, opening in 1840 at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail.The fifth and current generation is run by the three Faraud sisters. The eldest, Delphine, is in charge of sales, accounting and client relations, while Cendrine and the youngest Roseline, armed with their combined knowledge and savoir-fair, work together to produce high-quality wines while, guided by their father, Michel Faraud, remaining true to age-old traditions.

The estate comprises 17 ha (42 acres) of clay marl and limestone, sand and gravel. We have around 20 separate plots, which are located throughout the Gigondas appellation, along the Dentelles de Montmirail (2.5ha at the neck of the Cayron at 400m high) and across garrigue, including 2ha of vineyard in the Bois de Menge that are up to 70 years old.

Read more here:

2015 L’Aventure Optimus, Paso Robles 

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Optimus is a classically- styled wine that truly embodies oursaying: L’Aventure…where the Bordeaux meets the Rhône!. 60% Syrah, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Petit Verdot.

Vinous: Inky ruby. An exotically perfumed bouquet evokes spice-accented cherry and blueberry, while smoke and vanilla nuances add complexity. Sappy and expansive on the palate, offering sweet dark fruit flavors that show liqueur-like depth and a surprisingly light touch. Closes on a gently tannic note, displaying impressive clarity, repeating spiciness and strong cling.

The Winery: Stephan Asseo, owner and winemaker at L’Aventure Winery, began making wine in 1982, following his education at L’Ecole Oenologique de Macon, Burgundy, France. In that same year, Stephan established Domaine de Courteillac in Bordeaux. He and his family later purchased Chateau Fleur Cardinal and Chateau Robin in the Cotes de Castillion, Bordeaux. Over the next 15 years, Stephan developed into an artisan winemaker of fastidious craftsmanship and gained a reputation as a maverick vigneron. However, his true desire was to be more innovative than AOC law would allow. In 1996, this led him on a quest for a great terroir, where he could pursue his ideal as a winemaker. After searching for over a year among the world’s great wine fields, ranging from South Africa to Lebanon, Argentina to Napa, Stephan found Paso Robles. Stephan immediately “fell in love” with the unique terroir of west side Paso Robles. The rolling topography of the Santa Lucia Mountain Range, the deep calcareous soils, and the maritime influences of the renowned Templeton Gap all combine to produce a world class wine country, with the potential to craft some of the world’s greatest blends. It is here, in Paso Robles, that Stephan began his adventure, “L’Aventure”.

The spirit of L’Aventure is most evident in Stephan’s “Paso Blends”, such as Optimus and Estate Cuvée. Both wines are Syrah/ Cabernet Sauvignon/ Petit Verdot blends. In these wines, as well as in our Rhône blend Côte à Côte, the blending of premium varietals increases the authenticity, complexity, and balance of the wines. In this adventurous spirit, we find the future of Paso Robles wines… great, balanced red blends.

Read more here:

2015 Piedrasassi Harrison Clarke Vineyard, Santa Barbara 

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Hilarie and Roger Harrison planted their estate mostly to Syrah but later grafted over some vines to Mourvedre—in part as a response to some of the fruit ripening a bit quickly on the clay over limestone soils there. Mourvedre is a later, more patient grape, taking its time through the growing season and not as prone to jackrabbit-fast ripening on calcareous soils as Syrah tends to be. Some Syrah at this site still matures a little early for the winery’s liking, but the addition of the Mourvedre at assemblage brings nuance and balance in the midst of southern-Rhone stylerobustness.

Vinous: The 2015 Red Wine Harrison Clarke Vineyard (50% Syrah, 50% Mourvèdre) is unusually flamboyant and ripe by Piedrasassi standards. Ripe red cherry, kirsch, hard candy, pomegranate and sweet tobacco infuse this intense, forward wine. The 2015 is attractive, but readers should expect a decidedly ripe wine relative to the norm here.

The Winery: Since we began making the Piedrasassi wines in 2003, our ideas about wine have expanded and evolved. We enjoy drinking wines from lots of different regions–Burgundy, the Northern Rhône, Beaujolais, the Jura, and Piedmont, to name a few–so it is difficult to pin us down to a specific style we try to emulate. We are blown away by the tradition and sense of place of wines like Albert Dervieux’s lyrical La Viallière from Côte-Rôtie, and are amazed at the stylized concentration and texture of Stanko Radikon’s avant-garde Ribolla Gialla from Friuli. And we are continually inspired by the diversity of grapes and wines cultivated in the wide open, relatively uncharted territory that is the California wine industry.

The way these widespread tastes express themselves in the winery is in our different bottlings of our flagship varietal, Syrah, and a handful of small offerings of other varietals. For the Syrah, we focus on cooler climate vineyards, using native yeasts, low sulfur, and stem inclusion at fermentation to give transparency to the wines and to develop wines that have exuberant, lively aromatics. For the green label Sauvignon Blanc, we use extended skin contact for a mouthfeel unusual in a white wine. And the whole-cluster, closed-tank fermentation of the carbonic Sangiovese gives the wine a great freshness and energy that we absolutely love.

The common thread among all the wines we love and admire is that there are both a mind and a place behind them. Wine, just like food, or music, or art, should have a certain kind of authenticity–it should come from someone and somewhere. This idea is what informs the work that we do. We try to make honest wines that we believe in. We hope you like them.

Read more here:


View full evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores 63

Best Rated:  2015 Domain Du Cayron Gigondas, Gigondas, Rohne;  92-93 Pts.

Best Buy: 2016 Daou Vineyards Pessimist Red Blend, Paso Robles; 90-91 Pts.  $25