Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Santa Barbara Wine On An L.A. Wine List

When I see a Santa Barbara wine that I am not familiar with on the menu, I'm sold. Tatomer is a label I had not seen before, but it was the Summer of Riesling inside Kali. I tried. I liked.

I had the Tatomer Vandenberg Riesling 2013 at Kali in Los Angeles, where sommelier Drew Langley watches over an immaculately curated wine list. Does "Summer of Riesling" do it for you? It does for me, especially when they are such good examples. My wife had a German Kabinett, but I had this Vandenberg example from Santa Barbara County. They listed it as "dry and medium bodied," which is good advice for a Riesling. This one, though, has a nice touch of petrol - I mean, why order Riesling unless it has that? - along with some surprisingly extreme minerality and a muted citrus note. I paired it with the Ni├žoise salad to great effect. It was also a hit with the wife's roast pork, Pennsylvania native that she is.

Winemaker Graham Tatomer got one taste of Austrian Riesling and signed on to work there, anywhere. He brought his obsession with Riesling - bone dry Riesling - to Santa Barbara County. He says,  "The sites that excite me have been the coldest ones, lending to wines of lighter weight, nuanced flavors, and bracing acidity. Riesling is the ultimate grape to pursue these characteristics. No other grape conveys its region's character and varietal flavor with the power, focus, and beauty the way Riesling does." Amen, Graham. 

His Vandenberg Riesling - so named for the nearby Air Force base - comes primarily from the Kick-On Ranch, and the grapes are selected for their infection with botrytis, the rot that makes grapes a bit sweeter. I did not notice any unusual sweetness at all in this wine, but that’s okay.