LXV Wines hosted us in a recent visit at their downtown Paso Robles tasting room. This tasting challenged much of what we thought we had learned in the world of wine; that many absolute statements are false. We knew that you can pair red wine with fish and steak can be enjoyed with the right white wine. However, we still believed that wine did not pair well with Indian food, unless you resorted to a sweeter, fruity white wine. Our recent visit to LXV in Paso Robles showed us the error of those beliefs. If one such revelation was not enough for a single evening, we had a double surprise about Amber’s favorite grape, Sangiovese. More on that later…
Neeta and Kunal Mittal own LXV wines. The name draws inspiration from the 64 Kala or Arts. These ancient Indian disciplines cover art from singing and dancing to teaching a bird to imitate human speech. LXV is 65 in Roman numerals. Neeta and Kunal adding winemaking as the 65th Kala. They describe LXV as a Bordeaux focused house, although our wine tasting experience showed a far wider range than that description suggests. We started with a rose of Cab Franc; a non-traditional expression of a Bordeaux classic. The second wine was a 100% Sauvignon Blanc with a style closer to France than that of New Zealand. The other two wines we sampled were both Sangiovese.
LXV White Sangiovese
The first Sangiovese surprise arrived in our glasses in the form of white wine. We have tasted white wine made from red wine grapes before – Tolenas White Pinot Noir being one example and Leah Jøgensen’s White Cab Franc another. White Sangiovese was a new and exciting experience for us. It was LXV’s first vintage of this wine. In fact, it was a still a couple of days away from being bottled.
Amber Comments: When I heard about LXV making a White Sangiovese I was beyond excited and was at the same time a bit nervous! How would my beloved wine taste vinified as a white wine? Would I love it or hate it? I have to tell you that it is AMAZING. Those big cherry notes came right through. This wine had gorgeous texture and body in the glass. Pork tenderloin or a pork chop would be excellent with this wine, as would a salmon burger or crab cakes. Fish curries Indian or Thai would be wonderful pairings as well, really the sky is the limit with this very versatile wine!
LXV Red Sangiovese
The second Sangiovese surprise was the 2019 release. Made as a red wine, it was a delightful shock to taste Sangiovese that was so young and yet ready to drink. Lush, soft, with enough acidity and fruit to be near ideal representation of the variety.
Amber Comments: I was so impressed with the winemaking style and flavor of this very accessible Sangiovese. Usually I tell people to leave any Sangiovese you buy to age for at least two years before opening it. This one is ready to drink now, but is not without backbone and aging potential. I don’t think it will have the longevity of ten years, but I think in five it will be at its peak. I’m going to try and hold a bottle in my cellar to test it out.
During our tasting we talked with Jeff Strekas, the LXV winemaker. He explained that he picked the grapes for the White Sangiovese way earlier than for the Reserve. (At about 22 Brix, compared with 25-26).
Jeff then mused on how he created the Reserve Sangiovese. Hand punching two or three times a day. Keeping the temperature to 84-85 degrees. These techniques reduced the amount of “aggressive tannins”.
An attractive tasting room, charming hosts, and good wines are all plus points for LXV. They are not unique in that regard. What makes them stand out is the pairing with spiced food. Not an intense Vindaloo from a Balti House in England, but elegant and carefully constructed seasoning. *Note: This tasting was created exclusively for our group of professional wine writers attending the Wine Writers Educational Tour and is not available to the public. The pairings LXV offers to the public are with actual spices which is unusual and interesting to say the least.
We had the following dishes:
Samosas paired with the 2021 Rose of Cabernet Franc
Saag Panner paired with the 2021 Sauvignon Blanc
Chicken Biryani paired with the 2021 Sangiovese Reserve
Chicken Tikka Masala paired with the 2021 White Sangiovese
The dishes paired with the wines in the truest sense. Both food and drink were enhanced by the presence of the other. To quote Neeta:
We pair our wine with seasonings. That’s something that we are famous for. So every wine is meticulously paired with this curated blend of seasonings from all over the world. Yes, it’s sort of food and wine pairing, but it’s a little bit more than that. The idea is this very systematic deconstruction of wine. We make only 2000 cases. So it’s very important that someone who comes to LX V they get a little bit of a different context when they taste the wine. And so the pairings, the spice pairings are our way of changing the context on the wine, on the wine tasting.
Amber and I loved the experience and the wines. We bought a mixed case of the two different Sangiovese and three of the Sauvignon Blanc. Several of the other people we were with did likewise. We can recommend LXV, with one caveat. Do not buy the White Sangiovese – supplies are limited and we may need to have more of it!
Want to visit LXV Wines? Check out their website: www.lxvwine.com