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2008 Viña Robles Huerhuero Cabernet Sauvignon

Viña Robles is a relative newcomer to the Paso Robles region, having been planted from 1996 in various locations around the town itself. The estate was founded by Swiss restaurateur Hans Nef, and since 1999, the first vintage, the winemaker has been his countryman Matthias Gubler. The largest of the vineyards is called Huerhuero (a native American word for the pale-coloured riverbed sand that characterizes the vineyard) and its 500 acres lie a few miles to the east of Paso Robles itself on a plateau.

One characteristic of the wine is that it includes 20 percent Petit Verdot, although the final blend is only made after about twelve months of ageing. It is aged in 50 percent new oak for a total of eighteen months, and the alcohol is moderate, for Paso Robles Cabernet, at 14.5%.

Matthias Gubler explains his stylistic approach: ‘My main goal is to preserve the natural, fresher fruit flavours in the wine, to show the real varietal characteristics of the grapes. With our Cabernet I don’t look for an overripe style, and I use light to medium-toast barrels to help lift those flavours rather than mask them. The Petit Verdot adds colour, darker aromas, and increases the structure without losing the typicity of the Cabernet.’

It’s probable that Gubler’s European background is largely responsible for the freshness and stylishness of this wine: intrinsically Californian, but with a lighter touch.

Viña Robles, 3700 Mill Rd., Paso Robles, CA 93451. Tel: 805 227 4812. www.vinarobles.com.

UK stockiest: California Fine Wine

Written by Stephen Brook

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