By Rick Riozza

The short answer is “yes”. The long one is the remainder of this article—well, sort of. We’re actually going to talk about Paso Robles. Indeed, the other title of this piece could have been: The Captivating Phenomenon of Paso Robles Cabernet. But as you see, we went with the pressing inquiry above.

I just attended a wine steward seminar in L. A. where we tasted through a bunch of new wine releases, the majority of which was Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon. And quite honestly, when several samples of wine are passed around every 15 minutes, it’s a little hard to sit back and consider each individual wine given the pressing time frame. But hey!—someone’s got to do it!

Fortunately, we get a fair amount of full size bottles, that we’ve previously tasted, to take with us as we depart so we can fully enjoy the quality of each wine previously tasted.


You Cab enthusiasts probably already know the most popular Cabernet Sauvignons from the Paso Robles region: Justin, Daou, J. Lohr, Ancient Peaks, Austin Hope, Booker Vineyard, L’Aventure Estate, Lion’s Peak, and a few others for sure. For the past 30 or 40 years, Paso Robles has been producing millions of bottles of Cab, and the stuff just gets better and better.

For those of you who wish to differentiate a Paso Cab from a Napa Cab, or a Sonoma Cab—the big distinction is the spice. Paso Robles Cab has got the spice profile down! For some folks, they can’t quite grasp that idea/flavor. A good comparative example is the difference between a bourbon whiskey and a rye whiskey. Now there, one can see the “spice” note differentiation. Rye whiskey is spicy and savory—Paso Robles Cab owns similar complexities.

While Napa is known for its dense, volcanic soils, Paso Robles boasts Calcareous limestone, which is the same soil that can be found in famous French wine regions, such as Champagne, Burgundy, Chablis, the Loire and southern Rhône valleys, and Saint-Emilion in Bordeaux.

One of the new Cabs on the Paso block is the Honest Thief. At the tasting I referred to, I kind of lost track of the Honest Thief flavor profile (we were also tasting Tequila, Champagne, Bourbons, and, well—seltzers, along the way). Later, when we opened the Honest Thief for a nice rib-eye steak dinner—the wine came through big time: complex fruit, nice structure, and a good amount of acidity to keep the meal lively.

The Honest Thief website offers this: “Our wine, made from premium vineyards in the Paso Robles AVA, captures the spirit of 1850’s California. It’s a rebellious red, fermented in stainless steel and oak with notes of dark fruit, brown spice, and a dusting of toasted tobacco that offers you the distinct taste of Paso Robles.”

So wine producers are now making it “fun” for the new wave of young wine lovers, with video stories to add to the excitement of their wines. For those of you interested, I recommend going to and catch the story and theme of the wine—or, you can read about it here:

“The gold rush era was my time. Joaquin, Mi Amor, had been a fugitive on the run. When they finally captured him, I was on my own. I grabbed what I could, stole a horse, took off along the Santa Lucia Ridge searching for every last satchel we had stashed along the way. I promised myself his ill gotten gains would be used for good—and that’s a promise I intended to keep. Sometimes in life, you gotta do some wrong to make things right.

“I may have been a thief, but at least I was honest. The story of the honest thief captures the renegade spirit of our wine making.”

Cheers to you pardner!

Paso Robles Wine Country writes to us that: “As if you need a good reason to drink Paso Robles cabernet sauvignon, home of the 7th top wine of world – read on! (But if you do, here’s a few). Balanced and bold, Paso Robles cabernet sauvignon is a timeless classic for a reason. Fruit-forward, savory and age-worthy, this ever-popular varietal is a total showstopper!

“Whether you’re hosting a few friends for dinner or picking out the perfect anniversary wine, Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice. In Paso Robles Wine Country, Cab will always be king!”

“The delicious truth: Paso Robles cabernet sauvignon plays well with food. The wine’s complex and layered vibes coax magic out of even the most basic dishes, whether it be spaghetti night or backyard barbeque. Thanks to its higher tannins and savory character, you’ll find fat and umami-based dishes pair exceptionally well with this iconic red. Think: steak, burgers, robust cheeses, Italian pasta dishes and tomato-based soups and stews.”

And now: some delicious Paso Robles Cab that we’re happy to recommend:

2020 Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon (Santa Margarita Ranch) ($22) 93 points.

A deep blackberry aroma meets with licorice and mushroom on the fresh and savory nose. The palate’s black currant and blueberry core is partnered harmoniously with notes of chipped wood and toasted herbs as well as jubilant acidity

2020 J. Lohr Pure Paso Proprietary Red, ($27) 93 points. This blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Petite Sirah, 2% Syrah and 2% Malbec offers aromas of black-cherry pie, toasty brioche and fresh mint on the nose. Theminty element carries to the palate, where more black cherry and fudge flavors are wrapped in ample acidity and chalky tannins.

2020 Daou Bodyguard Red, ($40) 94 points. Savory aromas of coffee bean meet with lush purple fruits on the nose. The palate is rounded in texture, with rich flavors of dark berry, cappuccino, milk chocolate and caramel. Cheers!