Caliza is one of the lucky few Paso Robles wineries to be mentioned with high praise recently in the pages of Wine Spectator. The magazine referred to the winemakers/owners, Pam and Carl Bowker, as the “new kids on the block.” Pam alluded to that on our recent tasting visit. Comfortably past childhood (husband Carl is 53 according to the magazine. Of course I’d never ask a lady her age, but WS is shameless and published hers. You’ll have to look for the article, as I remain a gentleman.) Pam quipped that “old kids” might be more like it.
We trooped over to Caliza after our picnic lunch at Booker. They’re quite nearby and we walked comfortably, even with little Jake in tow.
Pam says that, like Booker, the glowing review has significantly increased traffic to their tasting room. Certainly it had an exciting hum that day. (It happened to be Zinfandel weekend, too.)
Caliza, which means “limestone” in Spanish, practices sustainable agriculture. The web site gives a host of interesting details for true wine geeks about the soil types, various clones of syrah, Grenache, roussanne, etc. as well as info on the climate and area of West Paso. I loved the details.
Pam was wonderfully charming and chatty. We were so lucky to meet and taste wine with her.
The wines were really good, just like they said in the article. If you haven’t gone for a visit already, then you definitely should consider one on your next Central Coast excursion.
2008 Kissin’ Cousins: This is a blend of viognier, Grenache blanc and roussanne. It was a super pale transparent yellow with exciting crisp green apple, green grape, musk, white pepper notes with a long finish.
2007 Azimuth: We asked Pam about the name. She gave us three definitions: 1. the most direct route from A to B, 2. to deviate from the horizon (which has personal meaning for the Bowkers as they left their previous careers to pursue winemaking) and 3. ascend to heaven.
This is a blend of Grenache, syrah and mourvedre.
This opaque purple red wine full of fresh berries, warm baking spices, red fruit, pepper with a balancing acidity lived up to its name. We were transported.
2006 Azimuth: Also a blend, with more syrah than Grenache, mourvedre, tannat and alicante bouchet. This was darker than the 2007, more fruit-forward and easier drinking than the first.
2008 Cohort: The day that we tasted this was its first day of release. This blend that includes Primitivo, a cousin to Zinfandel, seemed very appropriate for the festival theme.
Mostly Syrah, it has Grenache, Primitivo and Petite Sirah: so this is a California blend if there ever was one.
Unsurprisingly this was an opaque purple to black with red fruit, chewy tannins and bitter earthiness that made it quite interesting.
2007 Companion: This is a 50-50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Opaque purple, supple and smooth with medium to full body, we enjoyed the dried herbs, red fruit and spicy finish. This screamed “Paso Robles” to us.
We did try a few more wines from other vintages but I can’t interpret my notes. I think that I was having too much fun that day. You will too, so get to Caliza ASAP.