Without a doubt, Matt Trevisan of Linne Calodo from Paso Robles is one of the very top echelon winemakers out of California today.
In the old days, I would just drive by Paso Robles as I headed from San Francisco down to the Santa Barbara appellation. I had always thought Paso was just too hot for producing top caliber wines. Back then there were only a few wineries from the area & generally speaking their wines showed nothing interesting enough for me to make me a stop.
In the late 80’s, however, I came across some wines from Justin Vineyards & Winery, which really caught my eye. Having then stopped by their winery & their vineyard, I was definitely intrigued by the limestone/silaceous clay soils & the tremendous potential I believe they had for producing interesting wines showcasing unique character. Furthermore while it was hot (100 degree days), at night, especially on the western edge, they had 50 degree nights.
The next real find after a couple of visits to the area was Linne Calodo, an up & coming wine project spearheaded by 2 young turks, Matt Trevisan & back then Justin Smith (who later branched off & founded Saxum). Their wines were amazing & really WOW-ed me.
Three of the things in their wines that further stirred my fascination–
–buoyancy. The wines were ripe, opulent, deeply flavored & full of character, yet had a remarkable buoyancy which was eccentuated by minerality which I believe came from the limestone/silaceous soils.
–Grenache & Syrah. By this time having tasted many wines from the region, the wines I found most interesting were produced from either Grenache or Syrah. Both seemed to create a distinct synergy with the unique soils, although it was site & winemaker specific. With the Linne Calodo wines which were centered around these two grape varieties (& Zinfandel), I knew they were on to something special.
–blending. Thirdly, rather than adjusting the wine scientifically, this dynamic duo artistically & deftly blended in various grapes from interesting vineyards to produce a more complete & interesting wine…to the point where the sum was better than each part individually.
Since then, I have been really moved watching Matt Trevisan really grow at his craft. His gift of corraling top caliber grapes & artistically & masterfully crafting remarkably interesting & complete blends is unrivaled. One of his true standouts, for instance, was the 2008 Sticks & Stones, which for me was a true landmark wine to this day.
Here are 2 of his latest & amazing releases–2010 “Outsider & 2010 “Slacker”. I am including some notes Matt recently sent, so you can get a better idea of how his mind works. Genius.
“All the Fruit is from a 3 mile radius around our facility. Currently we have 4 vineyards on Willow Creek 1.4- 3 miles as a crow flies North West: Heaton Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, Cushman Zinfandel, Cherry Zinfandel, and Denner Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Zin, and Viognier. Over off Anderson Road 1.7 Miles as a crow flies North we have Booker Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Caliza Syrah. Back at the Mother Ship of LC (Linne Calodo), we have Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Tannat, Picpoul Blanc and Grenache Blanc. Across the Street at Oakdale Ranch ( Farmed by LC) we have Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Tannat”.
“As always, I think it is important to note that I make regionally specific wines that reflect our neighborhood of South West Paso Robles. Our estate vineyard is the coolest location and sits 11.3 miles from the Pacific. Elevation is 1108. As we move North West the Elevation climbs to 1300 feet and the distance from the cooling Pacific increases due to coastal geography. The farther from the coast I go, the higher the pH, for a given phenolic ripeness and Brix level“.
“The 2010 Outsider is a blend between the South facing and deeper soils planted to Zinfandel. The fruit comes from the Whalebone block at Heaton ( Dry farmed, head trained, planted 2003), across the street, literally, Cushman Zinfandel planted in 1976, Lower cool area very high total acidity. Denner Zinfandel, Dry Creek clone selection, planted in 1998: Bright and enthusiastic. The Syrahs used in the blend are a selection of clones and vineyard sites, Currently we are working with 470, 383,174,525,877,Alban,Estrella,Shiraz 5, split between 15 blocks on variable aspects and soils. The Syrah is used to build extra backbone and soften the texture. It is hard for me to be more specific on that one. The mourvedre is From the estate block 369 South. Full of tannin, earth, meat locker. Percentage wise the Zin in Outsider will be heavier in Heaton Zin because of the higher pH, and rounded mouthfeel. The soils from this ranch are pulverized calcarious rock and clay. Feels like you are walking on the Moon, 30% slopes. In the vinification process all blocks are fermented in small lots and fractionated at the press with Free Run, Middle press and tails. At pressing the Zin Bbls are filled to 75% and topped with either Syrah or Mourvedre. This process facilitates completion of alcoholic fermentation and secondary fermentation. When the stars align I like to press Zinfandel on top of my Syrah pumice. Acting like a filter, I gain complexity and tannin. The wine was blended in March 2011 and returned to 20% New American Puncheon, and 80% Neutral 265L (4 years or Older). Bottled in March 2012.”
“The 2010 Slacker is a compilation of Caliza Syrah ( high pH), with basket pressing bbls from Denner, Booker, and LC. To counter the higher pH I am adding a decent amount of Grenache from both the Estate and Denner (Middle block). The Grenache brightens the wine, adds a savory character and elevates the aromatics. The Mourvedre is from our Estate “Long Rows” this Mourvedre is more classical, if I can say that, Mineral, fresh dirt, low alcohol, a wonderfull component to have when blending. Aged in 100% Neutral cask to allow the true expression of both the vineyard sites and blending style.”