For Erick Allen, the process of winemaking is about the blend. Starting Ascension Cellars in 2008 was about accentuating his blending forte of both the Rhone and Bordeaux varietals. It is Erick’s passion for this process that makes his wines truly exceptional.
Erick’s success in winemaking comes from not only his blending prowess but also from the grapes he choices and the aging concepts he utilizes. The grapes except for Chardonnay come from Cass Vineyards in Paso Robles. Chardonnay comes from Castoro Cellars Vineyards also in Paso. Erick’s passion also comes from his love of France and its wine regions.
Erick’s other career is an interior design and remodeling business where his creations fit the individual’s lifestyle. This same principle comes through in his wines. Each wine is designed to fit the true wine connoisseurs way of life.
Ascension’s first release was in 2010 but like the French, Erick is in no hurry to release his wines. The Rhone varietals stay in barrel for two years and then sit another year in bottle. Erick’s Bordeaux blends age three years in barrel with an additional year in bottle. This is unusual for a California vintner but also delivers an outstanding statement of what can be done with Paso grapes if you give them some time to age and develop before releasing to the market.
Besides the aging Ascension Cellars, wines are big on aromatics, have minimal handling, are handracked and filtered.
The idea behind naming the winery Ascension Cellars is that one must elevate their senses while sipping a glass of Ascension wine. This elevation is accentuated by their rising sun logo. It is the morning’s rising sun that elevates each new day. Each day has its beginning and it is our duty to rise to the occasion of what our universe brings to us every day. On each label, the rising sun is set against a window looking out to the vineyards during different aspects of the day or season.
Typically there are 10 wines in the Ascension Portfolio but not all are made every year. Here are some of the wines sampled at a recent superbly paired wine tasting luncheon at Cafe Del Rey.
Beginning with the Ascension Cellars Silver Blanc blend. This wine combines Marsanne, Rousanne, Chardonnay, and Viognier in what Erick calls, “a winter blend” because the aromas and flavors are those of winter fruits. One finds Asian pear and apples that give the wine a bright and balanced sophistication.
For Ascension Cellars the Halo Viognier is the perfect compliment for your good and bad angel. Delivering an abundance of florals, tropical fruit and apples, this is a light and lively wine. In some years there is a very small portion of Marsanne and Rousanne added.
Although not sampled at a recent luncheon, the Ascension Rosé has an iridescent rosy ruby color and is worth mentioning. Although the blend varies from year to year the wines always exude a luscious delicious quality. The Rosé is very fruit-forward.
The Ascension Trinity is essentially a GSM blend. The use of three varietals makes up the Trinity. This is a lighter GSM than most coming from Paso Robles but it has a subtle elegant balance. One finds rose blossoms on the nose and flavors of Bing cherries.
Soul Shaker is Ascension Cellars California twist on a Bordeaux blend. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petite Verdot, Syrah is added. Befitting to the wine you will find the following on the back label: “Why blend in when you can stand out.” With this wine, the Syrah makes this wine stand on its own.
The Ascendance is an equal proportion blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This wine is the one that sets the stage for Ascension Cellar’s aging process. With floral and cherry aromas the wine displays flavors of dark cherry and licorice. The back label reads: “Fill your glass and lift your spirits”, which this wine certainly does.
The Testament is the collective soul of the vintage. It is the true statement of Erick’s version of a Bordeaux blend using the 5 grapes Bordeaux is known for, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petite Verdot.
Finally, Rapture is a dessert wine made of Primativo. This luscious almost port-like wine is a blend of mostly Primitivo with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a great wine to end any delightful meal.
The wines of Ascension Cellars will excel beyond your expectations and definitely elevate your senses to the wonderful creativity a Rhone or Bordeaux blend can offer.