Thursday, July 14, 2011

LOCAL WINE FOR SOCAL WHOLE FOODS


Whole Foods

lovers in Southern California love their wine from Santa Barbara County.  Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and even Italian grape varieties from the Santa Barbara area are plentiful on wine shelves in Los Angeles, and the Santa Barbara wine country experience is just a short trip up the 101.

My eye was caught recently when I spied a collection of wines from Santa Barbara County at Whole Foods Markets in West Hollywood.  Whole Foods is known for their "locally grown" stance in food, and now we see they have the same sort of regionalism in the wine department.

The wines go under the name "A Collaboration," and feature different wines of several different Santa Barbara County winemakers under the same label.  These wines are made exclusively for Whole Foods Markets, and are only available in Whole Foods' Southern Pacific Region.  They can't be ordered, either, as Whole Foods West Hollywood store only ships wine near Christmas.  Southern California has these wines all to themselves.

Whole Foods throws a much-deserved spotlight on Santa Barbara County's climate, soil,terroir and winemaking talent in hopes of raising awareness of the wealth of wine located there among the everyday grocery shopper.  To that end, the displays of "A Collaboration" wines are placed prominently in the stores with descriptive material - like large-format shelf talkers.

The winemakers involved in this collaboration are Doug Margerum of Margerum Wine andCimaroneJim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and Frank Ostini and Gray Hartley, the team behind the Hitching Post label.

Six blends are featured in the line, each with its own appeal, and all six should tempt any Southern California wine lover strolling the aisles of Whole Foods.  They retail for between $15 and $17 a bottle.  The chain describes the wines of "A Collaboration" this way:

Hitching Post, Central Coast Red Wine

"Frank Ostini and Gray Hartley of Hitching Post Winery created a 22 barrel selection that includes a blend of 73% Valdiguie and 27% Syrah.  The selection was handcrafted for Whole Foods Market to feature the bold aromas of flowers, red fruits, dark berries, spice and a touch of bacon.

Hitching Post, Central Coast Rose Wine

Perfect for a warm, sunny, California afternoon, the 60% Valdiguie and 40% Pinot Noir handcrafted blend is a versatile dry rose that pairs well with a variety of foods.

Margerum Wine Company, M5 Red Blend

Owner and winemaker, Doug Margerum, crafts world-class wine, stressing individuality with connotations of nature.  The first wine in the series is a five-grape, six-vineyard, 18-barrel selection blended from six Santa Barbara County vineyards and displays aromas of blackberry and blueberry backed by hints of violets, anise and leather.

Margerum Wine Company, M3 White Blend

A carefully crafted blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Riesling and 25% Old Vine Chenin Blanc is lively, bright, refreshing, clean and complex.  Capturing the essence of spring in a bottle, the wine is perfect for outdoor dining and picnics.

Clendenen Family Vineyards Red Blend

With peak harvest season prolonged until fall, this wine benefits from a gradual ripening that allows the acidity to become softer and the flavor development to heighten; all made possible by the special relationship between the climate, site and grapes.

Au Bon Climat, Pinot Blanc

While the Santa Maria Valley is noted for its ChardonnayPinot Noir, and Syrah, the most distinctive grape in the valley is the Pinot Blanc—a more concentrated, rich and elegant varietal.

Cimarone Wines, Sangiovese Blend

Grown on the steep hillside of the magnificent Cimarone Wines estate, the Sangiovese has been a standout throughout Cimarone Wines’ rich history.  This proprietary blend of SangioveseSyrahSyrah NoirPetit Verdot and Mablec is a wine that truly drinks well now but will reach its peak with bottle ages.

Cimarone Wines, Syrah Blend

Happy Canyon is one of the warmer Santa Barbara County wine regions for Syrah, producing wines that are rich and supple with long flavors.  The dense, lean flavors of the other varietals, including Cabernet FrancPetit Verdot and Malbec, perfectly complement the Syrah to make an unparalleled wine that showcases the future of the Cimarone brand.



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