Cimarone Winery is on Three Creek Vineyard in the relatively new Happy Canyon AVA of Santa Barbara County. Roger and Priscilla Higgins own the vineyard and winery, and they emphasize Bordeaux and Rhone varieties in their Cimarone and 3CV labels.
The gravelly, hillside soil of Three Creek Vineyard is planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah and Semillon. The Bordeaux grape varieties do very well in the warm climate of Happy Canyon, which is shielded from the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean by the same mountains which channel that cool climate into the Sta. Rita Hills. You can find out more about Happy Canyon - including how it got its name - in an excellent and interesting article from The Central Coast Wine Report on the Happy Valley AVA.
The Higgins have employed legendary Santa Barbara winemaker Doug Margerum to create their blends, but a change has come. Los Olivos-based Andrew Murray is now the winemaker for Cimarone’s wines beginning with the 2011 vintage. Murray has extensive success with his own Rhone-based wines at Andrew Murray Vineyards.
Bank is Cimarone's top-selling Bordeaux blend with a touch of Syrah. It consists of 35% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Petit Verdot, 13% Malbec, 9% Merlot and 9% Syrah. The wine carries 14.5% abv and sells for $20. Margerum is the winemaker for this ‘09 effort.
Bank is a dark purple in the glass with intense blackberry jam on the nose. There are some clove and anise aromas, too. The taste is heavily influenced by the Syrah as well. Blackberry flavor stretches for miles, with a savory aspect that gives Bank a real old world feel. The finish is lengthy.
This bottle - open for three nights - is, by the third night, more influenced by the Cabernet Franc. The tannins still have bite, but the herbaceous, savory notes come forward mightily and a black plum profile nudges the blackberry out of the way. This wine really undergoes quite a metamorphosis after opening. Usually, I prefer a wine to have some time open, but I would not recommend letting Bank sit open for that long. Upon opening, give it plenty of breathing or aeration, then enjoy.