By: Chiara Shannon | Head Sommelier - K&L Personal Sommelier Service
A Trip Down the Central Coast: Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez Roundup
Whenever a team of K&L staffers make a company visit to wine country, we return bubbling over with excitement about great producers, various microclimates, interesting soil types, and--of course--great wines! Nothing compares to the experience of walking the vineyard with the grower or tasting barrel samples with the winemaker when it comes to understanding a wine's origins and the passion that goes into its production.
Over the next couple weeks, Uncorked will feature a series of blog posts about our domestic team's recent trip through the Central Coast. We were extremely impressed by the quality of wines being produced across the board, the diversity of varietals, and the direction many producers, big and small, are going towards balance, restraint, and authenticity. Stay tuned for stories and featured wines.
In the mean time, here's a short list of top picks from some of our favorite producers in the Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez area. These are in stock now, come highly recommended, and represent great values:
"I can't think of anyone who has done more to promote Italian varieties in California than Steve Clifton with his Palmina label. I admit I was intrigued with these offerings, and came away deeply impressed with most of what I tasted." (Robert Parker's Wine Advocate)
K&L Notes: Sourced from La Presa, Curtis, Kingsley, and McGinley vineyards, four distinct sites in Santa Ynez with varying soil types and microclimates, this 100% Sauvignon Blanc shows classic citrus, grapefruit and grassy notes in the nose, with mouthwatering acidity, a nice creamy texture on the midpalate, and citrusy flavors echoing in the finish. Storm's technique of predominantly stainless steel fermentation (84%) followed by six month on the lees yields a balanced and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc that is delicious on its own but highly versatile with food.
Watch the Movie: K&L hosted the official online premiere of the film STORM about winemaker Ernst Storm scheduled to screen at the Sonoma International Film Festival in April. Be the first to watch it online now on Uncorked!
"Fleshy and smooth but energetic too, offering lively pear and orange zest flavors and notes of white flowers and anise. Shows smoky, spicy qualities on the finish, which clings with impressive tenacity." (Stephen Tanzer)
"The 2010 Chardonnay Barrel Fermented Clos Pepe Vineyard is a big, virile wine endowed with serious depth. Despite its richness, the 2010 has gorgeous underlying minerality lurking beneath the fruit. The 2010 is decidedly intense but also beautifully balanced." (Robert Parker's Wine Advocate)
"An explosively perfumed bouquet displays scents of candied lime, lemongrass, anise, iodine and ginger. Deeply pitched but energetic, with precise, incisive citrus and orchard fruit flavors that pick up smoke and floral nuances with air. Shows a tangy, stony note on the finish, which emphatically repeats the lime and ginger notes. This is still a baby but shows terriffic potential." (Stephen Tanzer)
K&L Notes: The Tinaquaic Vineyard was planted in 1989. It is dry-farmed, which helps create very concentrated fruit. The wine itself is concentrated as well, and it retains a wonderful acidity and backbone that is lightly touched with some new oak (20%). (Clyde "Trey" Beffa III, K&L Domestic buyer)
"The 2009 Chardonnay possesses gorgeous depth. Rich layers of varietal fruit sit on a big frame. This is far from an easygoing Chardonnay. Rather it is a wine endowed with considerable depth and intensity. Rich varietal notes come to life on the layered finish. The Chardonnay is made from young vines from Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills. This is a gorgeous showing." (Robert Parker's Wine Advocate)
K&L Notes: From one of the oldest vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. Huber's property benefits from the cooling fog, the sandy loam soils and the consistent afternoon ocean breezes that make for ripe, fresh Chardonnay grapes. Aged in barrel, this version (the Hubers also make an unoaked Chard) pops with aromas of vanilla and spice interlaced with tropical fruit. The palate has fantastic tension between fresh pear and lemon notes, with the richness of spice and cream, but because only a portion of the fruit underwent malolactic fermation and only 20% of the barrels were new, there's wonderful lift too. A must try.
*Special pricing for K&L Wine Club & Personal Sommelier Service Members
K&L Notes: Mostly Marsanne from the Ibarra-Young Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley, with 11% of the fruit coming from Edna Valley's Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard and a small proportion of Roussanne (21%) from the Bien Nacido Vineyard. All of the fruit was picked ripe, but at low sugar, with brighter acidity, which help keep this wine wonderfully fresh, highlighting its mineral streak. The wine still has the weight and richness of the varietals that balances out the acid structure, making this a white that's delightful and fresh now, but that will really start to shine in 10 years when it's secondary characteristics are able to poke through the veil of acidity.
"Sexy, highly perfumed aromas of nectarine, orange pith, candied ginger, bee pollen and flowers. Sappy citrus and dried pit fruit flavors stain the palate, with slow-mounting spiciness adding back-end cut. Lively but powerful viognier, with excellent clarity and floral-driven persistence." (Stephen Tanzer)
"The 2010 Pinot Noir opens with an attractive, sweet bouquet. The fruit isn’t quite as radiant as the aromatics suggest, leading to an impression of compactness. Sweet red cherries and flowers linger on the perfumed finish. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2015." (Robert Parker's Wine Advocate)
"Dark red. Musky, spice-accented aromas of redcurrant and cherry, with a note of cured meat in the background. A chewy, tangy midweight that offers tangy red fruit qualities and touch of bitter chocolate... finishing with good energy and tightly wound red fruit character." (Stephen Tanzer)
*Special pricing for K&L Wine Club & Personal Sommelier Service Members
K&L Notes: Only 310 cases produced! This exceptional Pinot comes from a prime block in Presqu'ile Vineyard in the Solomon Hills district of Santa Maria, a highly coveted source for the dense, powerful, yet elegant fruit that Santa Maria is famous for. Planted in the late 1990s (then known as the Addamo vineyard) Presqu'ile is family-owned and meticulously cared for by the Murphy family, who maintain the vines in pristine condition. It is deep red in color, with ripe red and blackberry fruit aromas and flavors accented by earth notes and baking spices. 30% whole cluster pressing adds spicy complexity to the profile along with some grip on the finish. A pleasure to drink now, but with the balance to age 5-7 years or more.
"Vivid red. Heady, exotic bouquet evokes candied red fruits, potpourri and spicecake, with a mineral topnote. Fresh, penetrating raspberry and bitter cherry flavors show impressive clarity and put on weight with air. Fine-grained tannins give shape to the finish, which leaves sweet red berry and rose pastille notes behind. This must be the best version of this bottling I've yet tasted from Talley." (Stephen Tanzer)
K&L Notes: Winemaker Gavin Chanin is on a roll: Named one of the San Francisco Chronicle's Winemakers to Watch in 2012, one of Forbes magazine's Top 30 Under 30 in food and wine and an "exciting boutique producer" by Food & Wine magazine, and his wines clearly demonstrate why. Take the 2011 Los Alamos Pinot Noir, for instance. It comes from two sections of the vineyard and is aged for 11 months in 20% new French oak. While the vintage was challenging, the wine is vibrant and fresh, full of crushed red fruit and spice character. Drinkable now, but with enough backbone to age.
"Brewer-Clifton’s 2010 Pinot Noir opens up with striking, beguiling aromatics from the use of 100% whole clusters. It is an utterly impeccable, layered Pinot endowed with tons of clarity and finesse. The 2010 impresses for its energy and sheer brilliance. Simply put, the 2010 is a fabulous wine for the money. It remains one of the highest quality and easiest to find Santa Rita Hills Pinots." (Robert Parker's Wine Advocate)
"The 2007 Nebbiolo is a blend of fruit sourced from Sisquoc Vineyard planted with the Michet clone (60%) and from Stolpman Vineyard planted with the Lampia clone (40%). It possesses striking dark fruit and plenty of varietal character, but with an extra degree of textural density from these Central Coast sites. It is one of the finest Italian-varietal wines I have tasted in California." (Robert Parker's Wine Advocate)
" Ripe, smoke- and spice-accented black and blue fruits on the nose and in the mouth. Lush and open-knit but energetic as well, showing a suave floral quality on the long, sweet and gently tannic finish. An impressive example of this bottling, which has long been one of the Central Coast's best QPR wines." (Stephen Tanzer)
K&L Notes: "Ripe, spicy, and delicious! If I were you I would decant this baby, run to the market, throw some ribs on the grill until they are beautifully charred, smokey, and falling off the bone, and kick your feet up with the decanter and ribs within arms reach." (Melissa Smith, K&L Staff Member)
"If the first duty of a wine is to be delicious, this tiny production bottling succeeds beyond all measure. The Black Bear Block is almost always Zaca Mesa's best Syrah among its many releases, and so it is again in 2009. Take one sip and you’re dazzled by the refined tannins, dryness and complexity of flavors: blackberry, cassis, plum sauce, mocha, bacon, smoky oak, white pepper, chamomile tea and licorice. What's harder to express is the sheer pleasure of the mouthfeel. This is an exciting Syrah, and may just be at the beginning of a long journey. Drink now and for many years as it slowly changes." (Wine Enthusiast)