Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Artisan Wine Of Santa Barbara County

There’s a great event coming in mid-February that showcases the small wine producers of Santa Barbara County - the Garagiste Festival, Southern Exposure.  You may already know about the Garagiste Festival, held each fall in Paso Robles.  With two years under their artisan belts, the event has been hailed as a superb introduction to the boutique wineries of the Paso Robles AVA.  Now they venture south.

The inaugural Garagiste Festival Southern Exposure is set for February 16, 2013 in Solvang, CA.  Get details here and make plans to attend.

To promote the event in Los Angeles, a mini-tasting was held in January at Wood and Vine, a very nice restaurant and wine bar on Hollywood Boulevard near, naturally, Vine Street.  Several of Santa Barbara County’s small-production winemakers poured their wares at this small happening and showed why attending the main event is a must.

One of the founders of the event, Douglas Minnick, told me at this mini-affair that a lot of wine lovers from San Luis Obispo came in for the experience.  That’s a switch - wine country coming to Los Angeles for the day!

Here’s what I tasted:

Kessler-Haak Vineyard and Wines
Dan Kessler, Grower and Winemaker

Estate Chardonnay 2009, $29 - Eleven months in French oak feels just about right.  The wood plays beautifully in a well-balanced effort, despite a 15.1% alcohol number.  Grapes hail from the Kessler-Haak Vineyard 11 miles west of Buellton.

Dry Riesling, Lafond Vineyard 2011, $20 - These grapes come from 40 year-old vines, the first that were planted by Pierre Lafond in the early 1970s.  This wine is covered in fruity peach and minerals from nose to palate.

Estate Pinot Noir, Clone 2A 2009, $40 - The grapes for this wine come from one of the cooler areas in the Sta. Rita Hills.  Great cherry and cola aromas and flavors, and only 13.7% abv. .

tercero wines
Larry Schaffer, Winemaker

Grenache Blanc 2010,  $20 - This wine's amazing bouquet is slate-driven, while the palate shows a nutty minerality and wonderful freshness.

2011 Viognier, $20 - Grapes from White Hawk Vineyard are used here, producing a nose laden with honeysuckle and a palate bursting with pears, flowers and a touch of earth.  The acidity is quite nice, too.

Cuvée Christie 2008, $30 - The nose has an abundance of bright cherry and lavender, while cola notes mingle with the cherries on the palate.

Cuvée Loco 2008, $30 - Syrah and Grenache from Larner Vineyard combine for lovely floral aromas and flavors of cherry and raspberry, with a great acidity.

Shai Cellars
Shawn Shai Halahmy, Winemaker and Proprietor

Adome 2009, $30 - 65% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Ynez Valley fruit from Tierra Alta Vineyard and the Jack McGinley Vineyard, respectively.  The wine spends 18 months in French oak and shows big, beautiful fruit with a touch of graphite and black pepper.

Grenache 2009, $25 - This is actually a Rhône-style blend from Estelle Vineyard that includes 15% Syrah.  It is aged for 18 months in French oak, and shows delightfully earthy cherries.

Adome 2010 - The next vintage of this brand will again feature 65% Syrah with 35% Grenache, in place of the '09's Cab.  I tasted a barrel sample that was showing brilliant fruit.  It should be even more complex when it's released later this year.

Frequency Wines
Almond Wasserman, Winemaker

Tierra Alta Syrah 2010, $26 - This brilliantly expressive wine would be worth the price just to smell it, if it didn't taste so good.  Chocolate, coffee and earth dominate the nose, while bright fruit flavors and a refreshing acidity take care of the palate.

Central Coast GSM 2011, $32 - Here's a CDP-inspired blend of 60% Camp 4 Grenache, 20% Colson Canyon Syrah and 20% Rancho de Cielo Mourvèdre, from Paso Robles' west side.  Earthy cherry aromas lead to black cherry flavors draped in minerality.

Camp 4 Grenache 2011, $38 - A nose of floral cherry and a palate of cherry and raspberry highlight this wine, made from grapes grown in one of the Santa Ynez Valley's most desired locations.

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