One of the newest additions to the busy Paso Robles wine scene is a refreshingly unique winery called LXV. It is the inspiration of Neeta and Kunal Mittal, both natives of India, who met and fell in love while attending UC Berkeley.
The couple had frequently flown over the central coast during visits to Southern California, and its wild beauty attracted them. Finally they took a car trip to the country around Paso Robles, and it was love at first sight.
The Mittels’ winery offers only a few small-output labels, but the wine I tried is quite good. (That’s no surprise: It’s made at ONX, an up-and-coming winery in the new Templeton Gap AVA that has won major awards recently with its unusual red blends.)
Here’s what makes LXV different from countless other new wineries coming out of this region: its wines are designed to be paired with Indian, Italian and other spicy foods. If you visit the winery’s tasting room in downtown Paso Robles, a plate accompanies your tasting. It’s divided into four quadrants; each contains tiny bites of cheese coated in dry herb and spice mixtures.
With the 2014 Summer Satine, a well-balanced viognier, we tasted garam masala, prepared by Neeta’s mom back home in India. The 2014 Heart Note, a rose that was slightly sweet, goes with tamarind, brown sugar, cinnamon and merlot salt. The Crimson Jewel, a combination of sangiovese and petite sirah, is paired with basil, oregano, parsley, and dried bits of tomato, onion and garlic. The 2013 Lover’s Spell, a blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah, mates with black truffle salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and savory.
The name of the winery is inspired by Indian culture. There are 64 arts in the Kama Sutra (contrary to popular belief, the ancient Hindu text is more than a sex guide. It also instructs the reader in the ways of virtuous and gracious living, and its lessons cover even mundane arts such as pillow arranging). Those of you who can decipher Roman numerals know that LXV is 65 – in other words, wine and food pairing is being presented as the 65th art.
The LXV tasting room is more exotic than most, with deep blue walls, day beds filled with plush pillows and a very non-Western vibe. It’s worth a trip, especially if you’re burned out on the run-of-the-mill tasting room experience. There’s only one downside: afterwards you’ll be hankering for some good Indian food, and Paso, alas, doesn’t have an Indian restaurant. Perhaps that should be the Mittels’ next project.
There is one solution: Neeta offers a private dinner, which reveals the correlations between wine and Indian food flavors in five pairings. It’s $100 per person.
1306 Pine St., Paso Robles