Behind the Cork™ - Écluse Blind Dog Red Blend

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Écluse Blind Dog Red Blend ($17)

Écluse is the French word for the locks on the canals. And, the Écluse name is very fitting for this winery that’s owned by Steve Lock.

During my last visit to Paso Robles I stopped in to visit Écluse and got to meet Steve. Besides making great wines, he’s also a wonderful gentleman.

The Blind Dog wines began in 1996 when their property caretaker, Duane Robinson, lived on the property with Bingo, his longtime, faithful companion who, due to glaucoma, was blind. They were great companions as Bingo would bark to alert Duane, who was very hard of hearing, and Duane would be Bingo's eyes. In 1998 Bingo had aged and Topaz, a spunky little lab/terrier mix came on the scene. Topaz became Toby to Duane and all at the Vineyard. As Toby aged they discovered she was a Diabetic and in the summer of 2008, Toby lost her sight. They then had two blind dogs on the property.

This inspired Écluse to create Blind Dog Midnight Run Cuvee as a Tribute to these special dogs. This red is a terrific blend of some of the best Paso Robles reds. It’s barrel aged from 14 to 30 months and really special.

So, next time you are passing through Paso Robles, take the short drive off Highway 101 and visit Écluse. They make a bunch of really great wines that you’re sure to enjoy. And, if you pick up a bottle of this Blind Dog Red, they’ll donate a percentage of their proceeds to Dogs for Better Lives, formerly known as Dogs for the Deaf, in Central Point, Oregon. It’s a real win-win! Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Clayhouse Adobe Red

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2012 Clayhouse Adobe Red Blend ($14)

This was an interesting find. I love Paso Robles and the wines that are produced there. But, I wasn’t previously familiar with this one.

The Clayhouse estate Red Cedar Vineyard is located on the east side of Paso Robles within two of the sub-AVAs: San Juan Creek and Paso Robles Estrella District.

This blend is from winemaker Blake Kuhn who got his start at UC Santa Barbara with degrees in biology and environmental sciences. He later attended UC Davis to further his wine education.

Blake has done well with this Adobe Red. It’s 39% Petite Sirah, 34% Zinfandel, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 3% Tempranillo and 2% Malbec.

It has nice black fruit flavors of cherry and blackberry with a bit of jammy flavor, some nice oak additions of vanilla and cocoa and finishes very smooth. This is a very tasty red blend at a great price. Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - 2016 Écluse Ensemble

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2016 Écluse Ensemble ($48)

This Bordeaux red blend from Écluse in Paso Robles is truly an ensemble of varietals. It’s produced from 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cab Franc, 15% Petit Verdot, 14% Merlot, 14% Malbec and 7% Carignane. A little bit of everything!

And the result is quite tasty. It has bright red fruit flavors such as cherry but also has hints of pepper, licorice and other spices.

Écluse has masterfully blended this wine to be big in flavor and smooth on the finish.

If you’re passing through Paso Robles on Highway 101, Écluse is just a couple of minutes away and well worth the stop. And, you’re likely to find the warm and friendly owner Steve Lock (Lock is Écluse in French) in the serving room.

This is a really good one! Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week

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2013 Elevation 1250' Paso Robles Red Wine ($7)

This Elevation 1250' is a nice blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah from Paso Robles.  And, as with all Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week features, it's a great value.

I must admit this is a unique find at Trader Joe's, and when I went on-line to learn more about the wine I came up empty handed.  It is produced by Riboli Family Wines, a large conglomerate, but even their website does not include this one in their portfolio. So, it's not a mainstream wine and probably will come and go quickly.

Regardless, this is real nice red wine blend at a great price. I'd definitely suggest giving it a try. I went back for more! Cheers!