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Cordant Winery's Evan Taylor and Rachel Khan at Del Mar’s Beeside Balcony. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Cordant Winery's Evan Taylor and Rachel Khan at Del Mar’s Beeside Balcony. Photo by Rico Cassoni
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Cordant Winery tasting at Beeside Balcony in Del Mar

When Alan Goldfarb, a wine journalist for several wine media magazines, including Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, and a public relations consultant reached out to us to try Paso Robles-based Cordant Winery, it was an easy yes!

Cordant’s brand director Evan Taylor, and Rachel Khan, media relations manager, were visiting San Diego and wanted to do a tasting with Frank and me to share their wines. With Del Mar’s Beeside Balcony fresh in our minds from a recent review, we decided to meet Taylor and Khan there for lunch. After setting a venue and meeting time, we were ready to learn more about Cordant’s wines.

Cordant is an urban winery located in Paso Robles. The winery has a second label, Nelle, that is being combined into the Cordant brand. With vast amounts of land still available to grow estate fruit in Paso, I asked Taylor why an urban vs. estate winery.

“My parents, David and DeAnn Taylor, founded Cordant Winery in 2014 to produce pinot noir and Rhone-style wines that would become favorites in their cellar and to hopefully be able to share with friends, family, and even customers,” Taylor said. “They were risk averse and wanted to source premium fruit to make exceptional wines with prestigious brand recognition. My father is organized and conducts quarterly tastings with notes and trends to help achieve our goal of exceptional wines.”

Cordant Winery's Evan Taylor and Rachel Khan at Del Mar’s Beeside Balcony. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Cordant Winery’s Evan Taylor and Rachel Khan at Del Mar’s Beeside Balcony. Photo by Rico Cassoni

Cordant produces about 3,000 cases a year from vineyards that stretch 180 miles up and down California’s Central Coast, including Bien Nacido (Santa Maria Valley), Santa Rita Hills, Paso, and Santa Lucia Highlands, to create its pinot, chardonnay, and Rhone-style wines, such as syrah, mourvedre and GSM blends. The winery has three pricing tiers starting at less than $40 for its entry level, a middle level from $50 to $65, and its top reserve tier from $70 to $80.

To raise the bar, Cordant recently brought on a new winemaker, 20-year Paso vet Scott Stelzle, who traveled over 10,000 miles during the hot 2022 harvest, overseeing the crush from Cordant’s vineyards.

Evan’s passion for Cordant Wine was infectious. You can tell he loves his position as he regularly travels, spreading the word on Cordant wines and holding small events for customers, primarily wine club members, in Southwest Florida, Las Vegas, and the Midwest. We started our tasting with two 2020 pinot noirs.

The first was the Solomon Hills, sourced from Santa Maria Valley. The cool, foggy weather makes working with this grape tricky. The berries and clusters are smaller compared to the second pinot, Radian. The Solomon Hills was a more traditional pinot with earthiness, mushrooms and olive on the nose, and black currant fruit, cherry cola, and oak on the palate with good acidity.

The Radian is sourced from Sta. Rita Hills sees about 17 hours of sun during the growing season, creating more body and a deeper ruby-red garnet color than the Solomon Hills. The nose was more intense with hints of Dr. Pepper, baking spice, cranberry, and strawberry.

The palate was also more fruit-forward with clove, cherry, and a splash of caramel with a touch of cigar. Cordant challenges customers to age the Radian for another three years before popping.

After the pinots, we had the 2019 Enz Vineyard Old Vine Mourvedre made from some of California’s oldest vines dating back to 1887. The head-trained, deep vines allow for dry farming. Cordant is one of a few that sources from Enz Vineyards and cherishes this relationship.

On the nose, the mourvedre had black fruit and boysenberry. The palate also had black fruit with minerality leading to a long finish with a hint of tobacco, and is aged in 50% new French oak. Robert Parker awarded this beauty 95 points.

Next up was a 2019 grenache sourced from the west side of Paso Robles, along with Monterey County’s Coastview Vineyard in the Gabilan mountains. I liked the floral lavender nose. The palate had berry notes with a touch of orange citrus. Despite being a thin-skinned grape, this grenache had noticeable tannins on the finish. The 2019 grenache also earned a 95-point Robert Parker score.

Our last wine was the 2020 Pandemonium (syrah 85%, petite sirah 15%) blend sourced from three Paso Robles vineyards, including the Adelaida District and Templeton Gap for the syrah and the Highlands District for the petite sirah.

The fruit was picked for optimum ripeness based on the Brix scale, pH, and total acidity, cold-soaked for two days and retested. Once the numbers are perfect, fermentation starts for 25 days with the skins. Finally, the wine is gravity fed into barrels and aged for 18 months before blend trials are bottled.

The result is deep color along with floral tones of jasmine, boysenberry, clove, and vanilla on the nose, making this an excellent wine for the holidays with ham and turkey. More information at cordantwinery.com.

— Story by Rico Cassoni

Wine Bytes

Flora owner Sal Ercolano updated the pricing for the Markham Winemaker Dinner on Thursday, Jan. 12, and Friday, Jan. 13, with winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls featuring Peppered Muscovy Duck breast paired with 2018 The Altruist Red Blend for the main course. The new price is $95 per person and includes both tax and tip. This is a fantastic price for these five-course Markham Winemaker dinners. RSVP online at florabarandkitchen.com.

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