February 26, 2008

Vines on the Marycrest Tastes Vegas! and Event Reminder

You know how sometimes you meet certain people and just “click”? Well that happened a few weeks ago when Victor Abascal of Vines on the Marycrest winery contacted me when he learned about the Blog and what a Paso Robles fan I am.

Victor came to Las Vegas last week, and I had the opportunity (privilege, actually) to meet with him two days in a row. At 44, he looks far younger and has an engaging, friendly style. Victor is a Technical Engineer in the film business in Los Angeles, which makes for an interesting commute from his home in Paso Robles. Not only that, but his brother-in-law is Rick Baker of cinema special-effects fame!

He began his wine-making career by surreptitiously planting vines on the grounds of the Marycrest, a Catholic home for the aged, in his hometown of Culver City, California, and his winery’s namesake. Well, the nuns there freaked (can nuns freak?), and the police were called. Well, once they realized that this was not the illegal greenery that it appeared, the nuns relaxed and Victor had his vineyard. And then the insurance company intervened. As a result of this and a series of other head-shaking events, Victor eventually found his destiny in Paso Robles. This all makes for a lively, interesting story of someone whose true passion is wine!

Victor and I corresponded for quite a while as he developed his itinerary for last week. I also got to know him via The Winery Channel where he narrated his wine/life story.

Victor came in last week in order to promote his wines, and he and Elliot Pemberton (www.pembertondc.com) did a whirlwind tasting of his wines at various casinos and restaurants. I’d like to brag about some of the restaurants they went to, but I’ve been sworn to silence.

Thursday evening Elliot, Victor, Michael Breyer and I met at AquaKnox restaurant in the Venetian. Elliot and Victor had just come from a tasting at (insert name of prestigious restaurant here), and were tired but excited after a busy day that was capped by that impressive tasting. Victor generously shared his wines as we nibbled on the delicious appetizers of AquaKnox. By the way, they were very accommodating of our need for glasses, and couldn’t have been better. Kudos to them!

Like nearly every winery, Victor has a particular angle to distinguish his wines from everyone else’s. First is his label. The name of the wine is on the back label along with all of the pertinent information. In addition, his reds are named after famous songs which have personal signifcance to him and his family. And to top it off, Victor bottled everything under bright yellow screwcaps.

The first wine that Victor poured was the 2005 Heart of Glass (Blondie), 67% Grenache, 22% Syrah, 11% Mourvedre. Very fragrant and highly drinkable, this is a food wine.

Next was 2005 ‘Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk), 45% Syrah, 33% Mourvedre, 22% Grenache. I quickly discovered that “fragrance” seems to be the distinguishing characteristic of the Marycrest wines. Dark fruit, pepper, spice and berries on the nose, and the same on the palate.

The third wine was 2005 Satin Doll (Duke Ellington), 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Syrah, 6% Cab Franc. Quoting Victor, “I set out to make this wine. This is the wine that I had in my mind when I started thinking about making wine.” I can understand why. Lush and, well, *fragrant,* this wine is elegance in plums, cassis, berries, and tobacco. The tannins are well integrated and it has a long, almost creamy finish. This wine coats the glass when swirled.

The last wine tasted was the 2005 My Generation (The Who), which is a lively blend of 45% Zinfandel, 28% Syrah, 18% Mourvedre, and 9% Petit Sirah. Big and fruit forward, this is a characteristic Paso Robles Zin-based wine. Break out the barbeque! Berries and spice, along with smoke and pepper make this a real lip-smacker.

As you can see, all of his wines are blends, and all are characteristic of the rich aromas and flavors for which the Paso Robles wines are known.

I met Victor and Elliot Friday night as they poured for the customers, fans, friends, and wine club members of Vino 100. This evening, however, he also had his 2006 Rosé, which became my immediate love. It’s a blend of 63% Grenache, 16% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre, and 5% Zinfandel. This ain’t no sissy pink! It’s unfined and unfiltered, with a richness that’s normally expected in reds. As of this writing, it’s not attached to a song!

The one thing that I noticed when I was tasting at Vino 100 is that the fragrance of the wines were redolent with the primary grape’s bouquet. In other words, while I thought the wines were very fragrant Thursday night at AquaKnox, the smaller, more intimate environment of Vino 100 really showcased the primary grapes’ perfumes.

I can’t wait to visit the winery when I visit Paso Robles next month. Vines on the Marycrest has once again confirmed why it is that I love the wines of Paso Robles. The rich Rhône blends, with their heady fragrances and rich fruit are putting Paso on the (wine) map.

Thanks again to Victor and Elliot for thinking of me when scheduling their busy schedule. But then again, such generosity so typical of wine people.

Oh yeah, before I close, I want to remind everyone of the Cultural Diversity Foundation Wine Tasting and Jazz event on Saturday night, March 1. I hope to see you there as my friends and I pour wines and help this very deserving cause. I’ve also contributed a free Combatting Swirl Envy-Lite! class for two as a door prize!

Hope to see you there!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Vegas Wineaux,

    My name is Shannon and I'm the editorial assistant at Foodbuzz.com. Following up on a recent email invitation to be a part of our newly launched Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I just want to reiterate that I am very impressed with the quality of your posts. I would love to send you more details about the program, so if you are interested, please email me at Shannon@foodbuzz.com.


    Shannon Eliot
    Editorial Assistant, Foodbuzz.com