Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tasting Room Notes: Sort This Out Cellars




Sort This Out Cellars is a wine producer based in the Santa Ynez Valley of California's Central Coast. They obtain grapes from all over the Golden State, however, and put forth a lineup of wines that are actually produced at the nearby Terravant Wine Company.

With an annual production of 1500 cases, Sort This Out Cellars is definitely boutique. And with so much competition on the wine horizon, the vintner lives by an inventive marketing plan that almost puts the actual wine - which is pretty good - in a backseat.

When you visit the website, or certainly when you step into the tasting room, it's Vegas, Baby in a more or less relentless fashion. From the labels on the bottles to the graphics and ad copy to the music playing over the sound system - Sort This Out offers up a full line of Rat Pack-era Vegas kitsch.

The wines have names like "Viva Las Vegas," "Ante Up" and "Suited." The "Suited" labels are fashioned after "gentlemen's playing cards" of the '40s and '50s, but look to me more like those lusciously-drawn Vargas-style beauties from Playboy magazine. In the tasting room, the concept is helped along by a soundtrack of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy interspersed with enough Sammy, Frank and Dean to make you think you need to roll some dice now.

The "Suited" line also features a special Holiday Merlot 2006. It's 100% Merlot and the card promises black cherry and strawberry flavors with earthy, spicy notes. They recommend their mulled wine mixture to use with it, if you like that sort of thing. It's a visually engaging label with a 1960s-Playboy-cartoon-style snow bunny gracing it.

Here are my thoughts from the tasting:

There were seven wines on the "Tasting Card," and an eighth was thrown in at a customer's request.

"Viva Las Vegas Pinot Grigio 2006 ($15) - Tart and nutty, with lemon peel and pineapple. Very crisp.

"Suited" Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ($17) - Grassy nose with a very tropical taste. Notes of mango, pineapple.

"Suited" Sangiovese Rosato 2007 ($15) - 100% Sanjo. Stainless steel. Lovely cherry and strawberry notes. Dry.

"Suited" Merlot 2006 ($20) - 100% Merlot. Earth and smoke. Easy to drink. Comes in Holiday label, too.

"Ante Up" Rollers Reserve Syrah 2005 ($24) - 100% Syrah from Santa Barbara County. Bit of barnyard on the nose. Quite earthy. Finishes well.

VinoNostra "This Wine of Ours" Red Wine 2006 ($36) - The blend is a secret. Only 100 cases made. Smooth with coffee notes.

Film Noir Pinot Noir 2007 ($50) - 100 cases. Cherry and vanilla on the nose with an intriguing flavor of coconut and toasted vanilla.

All in all, if you need a gift for a wine drinker who can't get to Vegas enough, you can't go wrong at Sort This Out Cellars. But don't be too quick to pigeonhole them as simple novelty. The wines are good, and worth checking out on their own merit.

Sort This Out Cellars had their tasting room in Buellton since 2008,which is where I visited them.  They have since moved to a brand new location, in Solvang.

Disclaimer: My tasting experience was provided at no charge for the purpose of review.