Friday, July 10, 2015

SBC Tasting Room: Lafond Winery And Vineyards

We made a trip out of Los Angeles to Santa Barbara County wine country recently. My wife and I, along with our good and dear friend Guido love this trip. We pass the roughly two hours in the car with small talk and jokes. The stop in Camarillo to have a bagel and coffee is mandatory and the Trader Joe’s on Milpas provides our picnic lunch. Usually it’s a loaf of bread, some cheese, avocados and olives.

This short series describes some of the wines we sampled in the various tasting rooms visited.

Lafond Winery and Vineyards

The Lafond Sta. Rita Hills tasting room is a one-stop shop for wine accessories, exhibiting a “no chotski left behind” approach to stocking the tables with coasters, openers, funny wine signs and food products. The room is decorated with some lovely artwork by local artist Karin Shelton.

I tasted a range of whites and reds on my visit, and was impressed by them to different degrees. The whites seemed a little bit full and oaky, while the reds showed their stuff very well. Three were from Lafond's SRH line of Sta. Rita Hills wines and three were vineyard designates from the Lafond estate vineyard.

SRH Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay 2013  $23 About three quarters of the grapes in this wine are from Lafond Vineyard, while a quarter come from their neighbor, Hilltop Ranch. Aromas of tropical fruit and oak meet the nose, and the palate is also marked by oak. It's buttery and has a good weight, but there is really a lot of oak here.

Lafond Vineyard Chardonnay 2011  $40 - Fruit and spice dominate, with less oak influence than the SRH. Peach and lemon on the palate.

SRH Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2013  $27 - Seven Clones of Pinot Noir were used, from 6 blocks in the Lafond and Burning Creek Vineyards. A beautiful nose of roses and lavender leads to a palate of pomegranate and raspberry. Slightly tart and very elegant.

Lafond Vineyard Pinot Noir Martin Ray Clone 2010  $50 - This wine comes from vines planted in 1982. It was the first varietal that Lafond requested be planted there. The vines were cut from the Sanford+Benedict Vineyard, and the Lafond website reveals that Michael Benedict refers to the clone as Martin Ray, while Richard Sanford calls it Mount Eden. Who's right? Who cares? It tastes great. There is a lot of fruit in the nose, with a strong raspberry slant to the flavor. Nice tannins, but still pretty and elegant - just a little sturdier andmore peppery than the SRH.

SRH Sta.Rita Hills Syrah 2010  $23 - The nose shows big fruit and a slightly funky, earthy edge. Black pepper, blackberries and cassis on the palate.

Lafond Vineyard Syrah/Grenache  2011  $38 - This is a gorgeous 60/40 blend of cool-climate Syrah and Grenache. Big dark fruit on the nose leads to black and white pepper notes on the palate with black and blue berries.

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