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Lunch at Cépage paired with Paso Robles Sparkling Wine

Cépage is the elegant new restaurant inside of the recently refurbished Paris Valley Road Estate & Winery Tasting Room. Cépage opened in 2022 and currently serves lunch and weekend brunch. Paris Valley Estate is a fairly new brand that is named after the two lane road in Monterey County where the owners, the Stoller family, planted their first vineyard over 20 years ago. The new name inspired them to renovate the former Arciero Winery in the opulent style of French Grand Cru domaines they had previously visited, explained winemaker, Doug Hidinger. I was visiting on a rainy day so I did not get to tour the grounds or take many outside pictures, unfortunately.

The table was set and ready upon arrival.

Hidinger was at lunch to present both the Paris Valley Road Sparkling Wine 2019 and the Sextant Edna Valley Sparkling Wine 2012 from a sister property of Paris Valley Road. Owner/Winemaker of Vino Vargas, Pedro Vargas, was also there to present his three sparkling wines. All of these wines are made in the traditional method like Champagne.

The House Sparkling at Paris Valley Road Estate.

The winemakers explained that sparkling wine produced in this style from Paso Robles grapes within the AVA is still a rarity as the cost of the equipment needed for this type of production such as bottle neck freezers, disgorgers, and riddlers required a significant investment. 

The current selections from Vino Vargas with more in the works.

Vargas shared that although he has an enology degree from UC Davis, he taught himself to make sparkling wine by making several small batches by hand. His production has now grown to 500 cases making the investment in the equipment worthwhile for him. He has plans to add two more sparklers to his line this year, his current goal is to make a sparkling Viognier and a sparkling red from Pinot Noir. "I really hope it works out," he added with a laugh. His winery has a sparkling wine club and this first sparkling red will be for members. Vargas would like to see Paso Robles adopt special labeling to distinguish the region's up and coming sparkling, he likes "Paso Doble", a play on the region's name and the double fermentation required to make it; he is already putting this designation on his own bottles.

Pedro Vargas and his Vino Vargas Paso Doble Brut Rosé

Vargas discussed the San Miguel AVA which is where his winery is located. He shared that the San Miguel AVA is the warmest AVA in Paso Robles but the extreme diurnal swing make it ideal for producing sparkling wines with balanced fruit and acidity.

The Méthode Traditionelle Sparkling Wines:

Paris Valley Road Sparkling Wine 2019Made from 91% Grenache Blanc, 6% Macabeo, and 3% Chardonnay with low dosage and then aged on its lees for 12 months before disgorgement for a smoother, more rounded mouth feel. Notes of stone fruit and citrus, bright, crisp, fruit forward, with a fresh finish. Available for $36 on the winery website.

Vargas Estate Sparkling Paso Doblé Brut Blanc de BlancMade from 100% Chardonnay, clean and crisp with bakery notes and a smooth mouth feel, with stonefruit and apples, and a fresh finish. $48 on the winery website.

Vargas Estate Sparkling Paso Doblé Brut Blanc de Noir - Made from Pinot Noir, with hints of red fruit, lively acidity, a creamy texture and just a hint of tannic structure, ending with a clean, fresh finish. $48 on the winery website.

Vargas Estate Sparkling Paso Doblé Brut Rosé - A 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this wine is more fruit forward with red berry and brioche notes, fresh acidity, a smooth feel, and a lingering finish. $48 on the winery website.

Sextant Edna Valley Brut Sparkling Wine 2012Made from a classic Champagne blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this wine is not from Paso Robles but from Edna Valley, located in neighboring cool, coastal San Luis Obispo County. Sexton, like Paris Valley Road Estate & Winery, is also owned by the Stoller family. This sparkler was disgorged in 2020 and then rested in bottle for nine months before release. Fresh and crisp with pear, toasted almonds, and a touch of honey with racy acidity and a lingering finish. $98 on the winery website.

The wines were poured and best pairings were individually chosen throughout the meal. 

The Bubble-Themed Four Course Menu created by Chef Joe White

1st: Caviar, Chips, & Dip - Hackleback Caviar, Truffle-Crème Fraîche, Truffle Pecorino

2nd: Seared Scallop - Pork belly, Edamame, Daikon Slaw, Truffle Soy

3rd: Lobster - Saffron Couscous and Tomato Curry

4th: Goat Cheesecake -
Goat Cheese, Crème Fraîche, Pear, Pistachio crust, & Orange Marmalade

All of these sparkling wines were delicious, and easy to enjoy, each was unique. They are all recommended wines, but, for the most part, are only available at the wineries or through the winery websites. My favorite pairings with lunch were the Blanc de Blanc with the first course, the Blanc de Noir with the second, the Sextant with the 3rd, and the Paris Valley with the 4th. The rosé was the perfect pairing with the after lunch conversation about the history and the evolution of Paso Robles, some of which I will be sharing in a future post.

Cépage is located at 5625 East Highway 46 at Paris Valley Road Estate & Winery in the Paso Robles AVA. Reservations are recommended.

Paris Valley Road winemaker, Doug Hidinger. Doug
 shared a few more tastes of the estate's wines after lunch.  More on that in a future post.


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