This time I’ve got a robust, well aged, joy providing and beautiful priced red blend from one of the most famous winemakers in Paso Robles – the French expatriate Stephan Asseo. Today’s wine is his most reasonable, his wines can be pretty pricy, and most basic one: Stephan Ridge 1998.
It is a red blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. The cold maceration before fermentation took up to 30 days and malolactic fermentation took place in 100% in oak barrels. The aging period was 12 months in 80% new and 20% used French oak. There wasn’t any fining or filtering. The last fact was very obvious after I drank 3 quarters ;-)
The Stephan Ridge’s colour was, as expected, very red-brown, not all too dark and had tons of particles in it. Hence - a very murky and faint colour. The nose appeared to be astoundingly complex for a wine in this price range. I sniffed a lot of freshly grounded coffee, Honduras tobacco, black olives, a bit of tar, still some impressions of dark cherries and very minor oak’ish scents. Its taste had a lot of fleshy and savoury dark cherry flavours, a truckload of dark and slightly bitter chocolate, strong but almost sophisticated flavours of mild coffee, again hints of aged Honduras tobacco, some dark earth and a few well integrated Mediterranean herbs. The tannin was still present, but appropriately polished – provided a robust and smooth backbone. The concentration was very adequate, not too voluminous, and the gentle acid still sound. The style of this wine was surely more “old-world’ish” + very fine Syrah-fruity, robust maybe almost a bit pithy, rather easy to access and fantastically quaffable! A squeaky clean “Vin de Table” with a certain amount of demand. Hard to get something that reasonable and well aged from Paso Robles! BEWARE: A beastly lot of solid matter in the bottle ;-)!