The Wine Advocate


Feb. 28, 2002 • Issue 139 

L'AVENTURE 1999 OPTIMUS PASO ROBLES ($45.00) RED 92
L'AVENTURE 1999 STEPHAN RIDGE STEPHAN VINEYARD PASO ROBLES ($24.00) RED 89
L'AVENTURE 1999 SYRAH STEPHAN VINEYARD PASO ROBLES ($35.00) RED 93


Former St.-Emilion resident and winemaker Stephan Asseo did not impress me with his first releases from his Paso Robles project. However, he has quickly grown into the job, and these 1999s are sensational efforts that should be reference points for complexity and quality in Paso Robles. Asseo has 30 acres on the hillsides west of Paso Robles planted with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre, and 20% Petit Verdot. The second label, Stephan Ridge, is a good introduction. The 1999 Stephan Ridge Stephan Vineyard, a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, displays wonderful softness, a sweet, expansive, black currant and blackberry-scented bouquet, admirable ripeness as well as purity, and plenty of depth. It is fruit-driven, mainstreem wine to enjoy during its first 6-7 years of life. The profound 1999 Optimus (52% Syrah, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Zinfandel) tips the scales at a lofty 14.7% alcohol. The opaque ruby/purple color is followed by terrific aromas of licorice, blackberries, Crème de cassis, and graphite. With tremendous intensity, beautiful purity, well-integrated wood, tannins, and acidity, and an explosive funish, it will provide sumptuous drinking over the next 10-12 years. Lastly, the 1999 Syrah Stephan Vineyard is staggering stuff. Its 15.3% alcohol is well-hidden beneath layers of blackberry liqueur, licorice, melted road tar, and smoke. Super pure, full-bodied, unctuously-textured, and sensations aromatically as well as texturally, it can be drunk now or cellars for 12+ years. Bravo!

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