Well, we’ve finally made it to kukkula! I’ve been looking forward to this day for ages, ever since we tasted their wines at the Paso Robles wine festival in 2009 and 2010. Our good friends, Aime and Whitney, knowing my admiration for all things kukkula, even sent me a couple bottles of their delicious Lothario, a southern Rhône blend.
They’d been building a tasting room for a while, which finally opened last year. It was worth the wait as the building is really beautiful.
“Kukkula” means “high place” in Finnish. It is an apt name, as the winemaker/owner, Kevin Jussila, comes from a Finnish background, and like most of West Paso, the place is really hilly. It was a bit hectic the day that we visited. They’ve only been open a short time, so it could be that they’re still getting the kinks out of the procedures in the tasting room. Plus it was Paso Zinfandel Festival weekend, so it might have been more crowded than normally.
In any event, it was a bit loud and disorganized: I wrote “frenetic” in my tasting notes. And really it was an almost carnival atmosphere. This didn’t meet my fantasy of a sedate, spare and elegant Scandinavian wine experience, but no matter. And it is naughty to stereotype: bad boy!
There is a tasting fee, which they waive with a purchase. They were super nice about letting us re-try things and allowed us to sample wines not on the official menu.
2009 vaalea: This is a blend of viognier, roussanne and Grenache blanc. This was a very pale transparent yellow with orange blossom, green apple and floral notes with sharp Granny Smith and mineral flavors.
2006 i. p. o.: This amusing wine is named “initial public offering” as it was the first blend that kukkula produced. Made of cabernet sauvignon, syrah and zinfandel, it was purplish red with lots of mineral, dried herbs and earth on the nose, full bodied and luscious with red fruit and pepper at the end.
2006 in the red: another commentary on the wine business, this wine was named before the profits started coming into the winery. A blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah, it was a purple red color with dried herbs and garrigue, mushrooms and more earth on the nose. Full bodied with red and purple fruit and lots of mineral notes. I liked it a lot.
Pas de deux: a non-vintage blend of Grenache and syrah, was a purple red with a nose of warm clay and dry herbs. It tasted round with lots of fruit and caramel, with hints of coffee and a long warm finish.
2006 sisu: “Sisu” means “tenacity” or “patience and perseverance.” A syrah, Grenache and morvedre blend, it was purplish red. This had a peculiar nose of V8 juice or perhaps over ripe tomato with white pepper. It had a lot of berry flavors, earth and more pepper. Full bodied with a good finish, this was creamy and smooth with supple tannins.
2008 Lothario: This is a blend of Grenache, mourvedre and zinfandel. It was a transparent brownish red with cherry, toast and dried herbs that led to a medium bodied wine with supple tannins, red fruit, and some peppery notes on a good finish.
2007 lagniappe: This is a blend of Grenache, mourvedre, zinfandel and syrah: translucent purple red with dry herbs, thyme, and a hint of raspberry that led to more red fruit, lots of pepper, candied berries and vanilla.
2008 lagniappe: Translucent purplish red with a bright raspberry and tobacco nose, red fruit and berries like cherry and raspberry. It was creamy and finished with coconut flavors. This was more fruit-forward than the 2007.