Paso Robles Wine Country Pt. 2: Denner, Ortman and I Can’t Remember

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Our next stop in Paso Robles wine country after Justin Vineyards was Denner,  another spectacular winery and vineyard. There’s nothing like enjoying a buzz on a gorgeous mountain top.

The only problem was, Denner is not home to many cheap wines. Couldn’t find a single bottle under $20. Oh well. After eating a perfect homemade lunch (prepared by my sister-in-law), we went in to taste. Since the focus here is cheap wine, I’ll just briefly recommend two Denner wines that you should absolutely splurge on:

Denner Vineyards 2008 Theresa (Roussanne and Viognier)

Holy crap, it’s like a pina colada mixed with french toast. $27.35 at!

Denner The Ditchdigger 2006 (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault)

This wine will destroy your face. That is all that needs to be said. $39.90 at!

I cannot describe this country to you due to the overwhelming chances of my failure in doing so. My wife and I have now explored a great deal of California’s central region, and its landscape is always beyond jaw-dropping. Endless rolling hills, some clotted with gnarled trees while others are vast, brushed with wildflowers of orange, yellow, purple and support only one stoic, paint-worthy tree per hill every mile or so.

The landscape is so stunning that the one thing that keeps recurring in my mind whenever I see it is, “Is this really in the same state as Los Angeles?” The contrast is planetary in scale.

Then it was off to downtown and Ortman Family Vineyards, home of one of the best Pinots I have ever had: Ortman Santa Rita Hills 2006 Pinot Noir. My brother and his wife had given it to us for Christmas.

I will be blunt: At this point I could not taste anything. I was smashed. I remember tasting the wines, I remember them tasting like something, I remember asking/slurring a request for the 06 Pinot Noir I’d had a month earlier, but I failed to remember the name. The pouring dude took pity on me and poured me a reserve Pinot of theirs, which was almost as good despite being more expensive. I even remember buying a bottle of the Syrah after my wife’s emphatic endorsement: “And it’s only $22!”

Still, $22 is too high to do a somewhat more intimate review of a wine here on Wine Welfare, so I’m going to go with another wine I tried at Ortman:

Ortman Cuvee Eddy 2007 Rhone Blend

COLOR: Nice purple but with some clarity.

NOSE: This was what I remember most about this wine. Nice big blackberry and plum smells with a little bit of licorice. After a minute or so it started to give off some of that gold ‘ole grandma’s basement scent.

TASTE: Not the most balanced wine in the Ortman portfolio, but at less than $20, you could really enjoy this anytime. Good black fruit again and even more licorice, but it kind of lags towards the end, leaving you with only the heat. Just a good, solid Rhone blend. Nothing leaning too far one way or the other.

WITH FOOD: You could enjoy this on it’s own or with pizza, red sauce or even a steak. It should hold up fine. Don’t get to crazy with the fancy foods and multiple ingredients. This thing asks for you to keep it simple.

WHERE TO BUY: $15.99 at!

Denner Vineyards

Ortman Family Vineyards

Paso Robles Wine Country Information

Stay tuned for more wines from Paso Robles wineries!

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