If you are looking for affordable, approachable, easy-drinking wines, I suggest you seek out those from Paso Robles. This large but lesser-known appellation was established in 1983 (a mere toddler in wine years), and is located around the town of Paso Robles in the northern part of California’s San Luis Obispo County. Most of the growing area is classified as Region III, equivalent to France’s Rhône region. At last count, there were over 18,000 acres under vine.
Rabble Wine Company encompasses four labels: Rabble, Stasis, Amor Fati, and Tooth & Nail. Rabble’s estate winery and visitor center is regarded as one of the region’s leading destinations, featuring a somewhat kitschy castle-like building that includes an expansive tasting room.
Rabble was founded by Rob and Nancy Murray in 2011. In addition to becoming a vintner, Rob has been a grower and vineyard owner for over 20 years. He continues to own and manage properties from Paso Robles to Santa Maria, with his own brands utilizing roughly five percent of the grapes he farms. He’s obviously doing something right, as Rabble is one of Paso Robles’ fastest-growing labels.
Speaking of labels, I’m almost always more interested in what’s in a wine bottle than what’s on it. However, the iconoclastic labels for Rabble and its sister brands have attracted a lot of attention in the wine press. The Rabble labels are renditions of historical woodblock prints from the Nuremberg Chronicle, dating to the late 1400s. They have been faithfully reproduced, including a full-embossing rarely seen in this context. The images depict nature’s wrath, as a reminder to work in concert with her at all times.
Rabble Red Blend 2015
This disorderly mob member hails from Mossfire Ranch, about three miles southwest of Paso Robles. A mix of 90% merlot and 10% syrah, it greets you with its bright red-purple color and aromas of red cherry and cocoa on the nose, with just a hint of anise. The rich cherry continues on the palate, adding red berries and delicate spice notes. The flavors, lively acidity and firm but sweet tannins are remarkably balanced. An excellent value. The label illustrates the Apocalyptic Comet falling upon Florence with the Unicorn and Phoenix.
Try this wine with cranberry-cheddar brats with bell peppers, New Mexican rubbed pork tenderloin, or grilled chicken with Fresno chile/plum sauce.
Rabble Caberrnet Sauvignon 2016
Another Mossfire offering, on first approach currant, cocoa, and a hint of tobacco drift from the glass. Again, the taste of cherries, but this time of the tart variety, supported by vanilla, dried sage, blueberry, and cassis. These are complemented by woody notes from the French oak, which also supplies lively and supple tannins and a nice long finish. And the label? Mount Vesuvius Erupting over Pompeii.
Enjoy this wine with venison and black bean chili with toasted cumin crema, pan-roasted chicken with blackberry-ancho sauce, or red chile and honey-glazed salmon.
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