Tobin James Cellars – 2018 “Rock-N- Roll” Syrah

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The Winery – A Brief Background

Tobin James (Toby) got his start with someone giving him six tons of Zinfandel grapes. At the time he was an assistant winemaker and he took this opportunity to make his own wine. Eighteen months later he produced his 1985 Blue Moon Zinfandel which won double Gold Medals and was listed on The Wine Spectator’s “Top 100 Wines of the Year”!! That was the unprecedented start of Tobin James Cellars. Then in 1993, Toby built Tobin James Cellars. Lance and Claire Silver joined as partners in 1996.

The winery is located eight miles east of Paso Robles on Highway 46. The property encompasses 71 acres of vineyards. Having had the old “10 mile Stagecoach Stop” on site, they went with the old-fashion western style tasting room showcasing the rugged history of Paso Robles. Today Tobin James Cellars has a tremendous following which accounts for them having the largest wine club in California of over 30,000.

The Wine – 2018 “Rock-N- Roll” Syrah

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Pulled this recently purchased wine from the cellar last evening as I had tasted it only once before. I again was amazed by the wine. The wine on the eyes was deep crimson in color with medium heavy viscosity. On the nose some amazing aromas of pepper and jammy fruit.  On the palate it is robust where the dark fruits of blackberry and plum light up the mouth. Some Christmas spices of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg are secondary flavors that appear on the finish. Also on the finish a smokiness of a campfire barbeque come across.  This is a big wine coming in at 15.2% alcohol. Tobin James suggests it is an age worthy Syrah, and it appears even at four years of age, to be still in its youth. The wine sells for $22/bottle and provides a lot of punch for the money. They also suggest their Syrah called “Blue Moon Reserve” and “James Gang” might also be of interest.

The Food & Wine Pairing

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Last night, I went a bit askew trying my own “creativity” with pork chops as my wife was running late. Prepared the pork chops on the stove top in a white wine, olive oil with various spices and sauces. The ingredients included: honey, salt & pepper, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, white onion slices, garlic and ginger to slowly simmer. Then served with a glaze comprised of two of my favorite cooking sauces, The Pepper Plant Sauce, made with chucky garlic and Jalapeño puree provided some kick.  Combined with Stewart & Jasper Orchards Cherry Pepper Sauce made with chilies and cherries. Plated with green onions and sesame seeds. Accompanied by rice and fresh garden salad. While perhaps a bit warm from the spices, it was not a boring dry pork chop!! The cherry sauce and honey along with the fruit in the Syrah, helped in mitigating the heat of the dish. A very good wine pairing.

I look forward to trying Tobin James “Blue Moon Reserve” and “James Gang” Syrah sometime soon.


Michael (The Pepper Plant)


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