Zenaida Cellars is located in Paso Robles’ Templeton Gap District AVA, which is distinguished due to the cooling ocean breezes which flow through that break in the coastal Santa Lucia Mountains. Zenaida Cellars’ 22-acre vineyard was planted in 1996 and the winery built a couple of years later.
The owner and winemaker is Eric Ogorsolka. He got his start in wine production at Wild Horse Winery under winemaker Jon Priest. Priest is now the senior winemaker and general manager of Etude in Carneros, Napa Valley. Ogorsolka later worked at Kendall-Jackson.
The primary viticultural focus is on sustainably-grown Rhone varieties and Zinfandel. While Zenaida also makes wine for others on a custom-crush basis, most of their own wines are made from estate fruit.
Zenaida hosted me at the winery for a weekend last year and I had the opportunity to taste through their lineup for the first time. My thoughts on the wines are below.
2016 Zenaida Cellars Force de Fleurs Templeton Gap District AVA, Paso Robles 90 750ml $32
Force de Fleurs is a blend of two white, Rhone varieties, 55% Grenache Blanc and 45% Viognier. The two varieties are picked vinified separately as the Viognier needs more time on the vine. They are fermented in French oak puncheons and then transferred to stainless for brief aging and blending.
It’s a very nuanced and enjoyable take on this type of blend. The nose is attractive but not shouty, with a core of underripe pear and lighter notes of baking spice and stone fruit. The palate has medium-plus body and is gently mouthwatering with just a touch of very fine texture. Flavors match the nose but with greater intensity.
2016 Zenaida Cellars “Pink” Rosé Templeton Gap District AVA, Paso Robles 90 750ml $28
This light copper-colored, 50-50 blend of Grenache and Mourvedre melds savory dry herb with appetizing strawberry and raspberry fruit. It’s medium-bodied with refreshing juiciness and a satisfying finish.
2014 Zenaida Cellars Grenache Paso Robles 91+ 750ml $37
Rich aromas and long-lasting flavors of red cherry (skin and flesh), licorice, garrigue, tobacco and spice. Full-bodied and satisfying.
100% Grenache from the ONX vineyard located in the Templeton Gap District and the Carriage Vineyard located in the El Pomar District.
2015 Zenaida Cellars Zephyr Red Blend Templeton Gap District AVA, Paso Robles 91 750ml $42
The nose is unusual, but fetching, with aromas of stewed black cherry and walnut skin. The palate rich with medium-plus body, plenty of very fine, soft tannins and flavors of ripe black cherry, chocolate and spice. It has the intensity to hold up to grilled meat, but will work with roast chicken or turkey too.
Zephyr is a unique variant on Rhone blends: 55% Syrah, 40% Zinfandel and 5% Viognier. It makes sense, as Zinfandel can have similar weight, structure, alcoholic content and fruitiness to those of Grenache.
2015 Zenaida Cellars Zinfandel Estate Templeton Gap District AVA, Paso Robles 88+ 15.9% 750ml $35
The aromas and flavors feature baked and stewed cherries, briary dark berries, spice and white pepper. Body is medium-plus with moderate tannins which are very fine and well-integrated and a very long finish. This is a very solid effort, representative of the region and will delight many Zin fans, but is a bit ripe for me.
2015 Zenaida Cellars Wanderlust Templeton Gap District AVA, Paso Robles 92+ 750ml $42
A smooth, polished blend (50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre) with an unctuous palate balanced by loads of very fine, integrated tannins. The aromas and flavors of ripe cherry, oak and spice have great intensity and the finish is extremely long.
2015 Zenaida Cellars ZC Red 88 750ml $30
Dark and red berries and aged cedar are the primary aromas and flavors in this blend of Syrah (50%), Petite Sirah (30%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%). It’s mouth-coating and nearly full-bodied with moderate, very fine-grained tannins and a long finish. A good value that will drink well on its own or with food.
2014 Zenaida Cellars Syrah 93+ 15.0% 750ml $40
This rich, full-bodied Syrah is bursting with aromas and flavors of black olives, garrigue, smoke, black plum, spice and leather that go on and on. There are sufficient acidity and plush, tannic structure to maintain some discipline. The wine appears to be sold out at the winery, so don’t hesitate if you see it at a shop or restaurant.
2015 Zenaida Cellars Knucklehead Paso Robles 92 750ml $42
This 100% Petite Sirah is opaque in the glass with aromas and flavors of slightly raisined black fruit, spice, charred wood, dark chocolate and blackberry fruit leather. The palate is full-bodied with good intensity and very well-tamed tannins. Long finish.
2015 Zenaida Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Templeton Gap District AVA, Paso Robles 93+ 750ml $40
This wine overflows with aromas and flavors of ripe, but disciplined, black currant, graphite minerality and dry leaves. The full-bodied palate is surprisingly juicy, given the plentitude of its beautiful tannins. Extremely long finish. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate vineyard. You’d pay 3x the price if the label said “Napa Valley.”