Vines like limestone.They can work their way through its fissures and joints, seeking out the last of the winter rains; the cool, humid soil provides some refreshment to balance the heat of an August day.
Limestone for a vine is like life on the Maine coast in summer. In fact, real estate prices for classic limestone terroirs are among the highest in the wine world. Consider Champagne, Burgundy, Barolo…or Paso Robles.
Yes, there is limestone in California, and it is not as rare as you might think. If you get out and about in California wine circles, you’ve no doubt heard of the limestone at Ridge’s Monte Bello Vineyard or at Josh Jensen’s Calera, two remote, high-elevation sites that are not particularly convenient for planting vines. What you may not know is how much pure white limestone there is in Paso Robles.
Luke Sykora, our associate editor in San Francisco, recently spent some time investigating the soils and vines in Paso. Like some of the North Coast denizens he interviewed, he found that spending time on the ground in Paso Robles completely changed his perspective on the region and its wine. In his first feature story for Wine & Spirits, Luke takes readers to some of the most compelling terroirs in this underappreciated Central Coast zone.
We’ve included Luke’s Paso Robles story in this issue because it gets to the heart of what drives value in wine: It’s based on an undervalued asset—in this case, the price of the land. In Jerez, the asset is astonishing old stocks of wine that fashion left in the dust (you’ll find some world class rarities at extremely attractive prices in Patricio Tapia’s report on page 59). Or great value-priced wine may be a matter of market conditions—though the US thirst for wine continues to grow, many traditional markets in Europe are shrinking. Combine oversupply with challenging economic times and it’s easy for buyers to look smart. Consider some of the deals in our 100 Top Values of the Year, all $15 or less. At some point, inflation will force us to raise that $15 ceiling, but for now, you can still drink well for a ten and a five.
Silvestro Silvestori reports on one region where that’s definitely the case: Italy’s Salento. It’s the home of Salice Salentino and a flash point for the Mediterranean diet. If you consider the wine in the context of local food, it takes on a completely different dimension, something you can taste for yourself with a glass alongside fave e cicoria. His recipe for fava beans and chicory will be a summer staple for us here at W&S. As will some of David Rosengarten’s recipes for sauvignon blanc, ideas inspired by the wines he discovered on an escape to New Zealand’s summer this past January. The recipes are designed to show off the diversity of New Zealand sauvignon, and to spark some of your own ideas for entertaining in June and the months to come.