A southern France-inspired blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre produces some of Paso Robles' most distinctive wines.
Called the Rhône blend or GSM blend, it's common to see wines made with Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. However, you may find other Paso Robles varieties blended, including Counoise, Tannat, and Petite Sirah. Each grape is selected for the flavors and structure it adds.
Rhône Blend Tasting Notes
The fruit comes first on the nose of a Paso Robles Rhône-style blend. Think melted berry notes of blackberries and raspberries that lead into subtle floral aromas of rose and orange peel. Wines have almost a chocolatey texture on the palate due to their richness and tannins.
Despite all their richness and bold fruit, you'll be surprised by the pucker of acidity in these wines. The wine's acidity here is attributed to the area's unique induction effect at night, which drops temperatures as much as 35 ºF (20 ºC ) .
Food Pairing with Paso Robles GSM Blends
Given all the robust tannin, acidity, and bold fruit in GSM blends, you'll want to pair these wines with foods that have equal intensity. Barbecue is a great pairing option, as well as roasted meats. Or, for those looking to pair plant-based, make a barbecue or teriyaki lion's mane mushroom steak.
The intriguing thing to think about is the subtle flavors of orange peel in these wines that could potentially match the ingredients in the sauce.
How Paso Robles became a hotbed for Rhône wines in America
It was the mid-1980s and America was thirsty for Cabernet Sauvignon. The demand for value wine motivated large-scale producers like J. Lohr and Meridian Vineyards (owned by Foster's) to make Paso Robles wine.
At the time, the land was cheap, so Paso Robles wine country ballooned to 20,000 vineyard acres. While Cabernet reigned king with the value wine market, something special was happening in the hills west of the city of Paso Robles: the introduction of Rhône-style wines to America.
Robert Haas must have scratched his head long and hard when he discovered a plot of land in Las Tablas (about 10 miles west of Paso Robles). This area has rugged calcareous limestone soils which reminded him of the soils in Southern France's Rhône region.
At the time, the varieties of the Rhône were not popular in the States. In fact, most of them didn’t exist here. Yet.
By 1989, Haas had convinced the owners of Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape to help invest in a new kind of Paso Robles wine. The winery, Tablas Creek, became a test-bed of Rhône varieties like Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, and Mourvèdre.
In order to mimic the vineyard variation at Château de Beaucastel, Haas planted several different clones of Mourvèdre, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Counoise, Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, and Picpoul Blanc - all direct cuttings from various spots around Château de Beaucastel.
But instead of keeping these grapes to himself, Haas started a vine nursery and shared the vines with wineries all over the United States. In fact, many of the top Rhône variety vineyards in the US got propagated initially here in Paso Robles.
Today, you'll find vineyards dedicated to Rhône varieties all over Paso Robles. Each with their unique upbringing into great wines.