I’m beginning to have a new appreciation for the Paso Robles AVA and that may be because I’ve found a new wine love: Rhone-style wines. I went to this year’s Rhone Ranger seminar and tasting, as well as the Paso Robles seminar and tasting, and what I’ve learned is that the Paso Robles AVA most mimics the terroir and climate of the French AVAs known to produce Bordeaux and Rhone.

Well, it was at the Rhone Rangers seminar where I first met Jason DiFrancesco of Leverage Wines who introduced me to a great line-up of his productions — everything from a “Big Boy” Rose to a soft and supple Grenache. So when he kindly gifted me some of his newest releases for sampling and reviewing, I knew I was in for a treat.

About the Wine: Leverage gets their grapes from the Adelaida District of Paso Robles. This is one of those districts on the West side of the AVA that benefits from both the heat of the sun and the cooling effects of the ocean. Adelaida is rich with calcareous soils — which is a chalky, absorbent soil that soaks up rainfall and moisture perfectly. This is the part of Paso that lends well to Rhone-style wines.

That’s what Leverage’s specialty is — and Acceleration is a perfect example of how this ideal terroir and climate combined with expert winemaking skills can create a native Californian Rhone that could easily stand up to anything out of France.

Acceleration is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah; Aged 18 months in 1 year old French oak; 15% whole cluster fermentation; 15.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Acceleration reminded me of a Bordeaux when I first poured it in the glass. It’s a rusty-red color and yet, you can see right through it perfectly. Initial aromas take you straight to the bush — the berry bush. Yes, you can smell some fine fruits — blackberries, boysenberries — but there’s an earthiness that comes through even on the nose. The palate of the wine mimics the visual in that there are some rather bold flavors and yet the overall experience is subtle and almost refreshing.

The interesting thing about the tasting experience is that it’s structurally balanced from sip to swallow. You’ve got the fruits, you’ve got the earth, I might add there’s a small amount of baking spices as well, then there’s just a small amount of acidity to break it all up, and just enough tannins to bring it back together and give the wine body. And for all of that, the wine is light — in your mouth and in your body. The finish is long and lingering, speaking entirely of the wine as a whole, and just begging you to take one sip more (ok…just pour me another glass already!).

Food Pairing: I’m going to be mighty specific because the meal I had with this wine was just the perfect marriage:

Fillet mignon grilled over smokey wood chips to a soft and supple medium rare. Red meat will amplify the body of the wine while the wine will calm down the heartiness of the meat. Pair that with an apple and walnut salad topped with blue cheese crumbles. My homemade vinaigrette: 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or honey), and just a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk, drizzle, enjoy.

More Info: Leverage is a small artisan winery, so you’re not going to find them in any stores. But you can see their full list of available wines and order directly on their site. And although they may not have a tasting room to visit (yet!), they are very active in the wine consumer community, so check out their events page to see if you can find a tasting near you. Of course, with small wineries like this, I always think your best bet is becoming a club member — discounts and first dibs on beautiful wine. For more information, please visit the Leverage website. Cheers!

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Jason DiFrancisco of Leverage Wines (right)
Jason DiFrancisco of Leverage Wines (right) — Who wouldn’t want to hang out with that guy? Cheers!


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