California wine country is split in two by the massive body of water that is the San Francisco Bay, as well as by the sheer density of Bay Area population that frames it on all sides. The most famous American wine regions lie to the north, in legendary counties like Napa and Sonoma that specialize in luxury-priced wines and are jointly known as California’s North Coast.
But some of California’s best value wines hail from the Central Coast, which stretches south from the East Bay almost all of the way to Los Angeles. With its cooling fog and ocean breezes, the Central Coast’s terrain and climate resembles that of Sonoma more closely than it does the warmer and more sheltered Napa Valley. This helps explain why its top counties, like Santa Barbara and Monterey, are better known for their lighter-weight wines, like chardonnay and pinot noir, than they are for heavier reds.
But there is one American Viticultural Area in the Central Coast — Paso Robles — that is proving itself to be extremely well-suited to cabernet sauvignon and beginning to give Napa Valley a run for its money. Wines like this well-crafted example, layered with dark, rich flavors of black cherries and cocoa, coffee beans and ripe blackberries, show how well the king of red grapes performs in this sheltered corner of San Luis Obispo County, located midway between San Jose and L.A.
True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon - Paso Robles, Calif. (14.2% ABV)
On sale for $17.99 through Oct. 27 (regularly $19.99), PLCB Item #1479
Also available at: Williamstown Super Buy Rite in Williamstown, N.J., and West Deptford, N.J., $15.99; Berkley Fine Wine & Spirits in Clarksboro, N.J., $16.99; Benash Liquors & Wines in Cherry Hill, N.J., $16.99.