Showing posts with label Doug Margerum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doug Margerum. Show all posts

Monday, March 5, 2012


Cimarone 3CV Cilla's Blend

The Cimarone 3CV Bank appeared earlier on Now And Zin.  It's a Bordeaux blend with a bit of Syrah.  Now let's try their 3CV Cilla's Blend, which reverses the math and mixes 69% Syrah with Bordeaux varieties: 20% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The alcohol content is 14.5% abv and the wine sells for $18.

The source for all this fruit is Cimarone's Three Creek Vineyard in the Happy Canyon AVA of Santa Barbara County, in the warm, eastern clime of the Santa Ynez Valley.  The blend sees 20 months in new and neutral French oak barrels.  Cimarone owner Roger Higgins named the blend after his wife, Priscilla.  He calls it “a wine of beauty and elegance - just like Cilla.”  

Doug Margerum was the winemaker for this effort.  Now, Andrew Murray has come on board and will be Cimarone’s winemaker for future vintages.  Cimarone kindly provided a sample of Cilla's Blend. 

There's a big whiff of alcohol upon opening, but this is not an issue after decanting.  The gorgeous fruit is dark.  Blackberries and blueberries play against an undercurrent of bell pepper, black pepper and sage.  The herbal angle features prominently, but the fruity aspect leads the way.  

The wine sports a great tannic structure and mouth watering acidity.  It's a big wine, with an intense flavor, and herbal notes linger on the finish.  I'd pair this with a rosemary steak.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Cimarone Reserve Syrah 2008

Cimarone Estate Wines, in the Happy Canyon AVA of Santa Barbara County, deals in Bordeaux and Rhone grape varieties grown on their Three Creek Vineyard.  Cimarone was kind enough to send me a few of their wines to sample, and this time we're tasting their 2008 Reserve Syrah.

These $40 bottles are numbered, and mine was bottle 1,316 of 1,380.  115 cases of this Doug Margerum wine were made.  Winemaking duties at Cimarone have been taken over by the capable Andrew Murray.  He will be in the cellar from the 2011 vintage forward.

This Syrah - the first Reserve produced by the winery - has a 14.5% abv number printed clearly and legibly on the label, no magnifying glasses needed.  The blend is 60% Syrah 383 clone, 20% Syrah Noir clone and 20% Syrah 877 clone, for those who like to get geeky about it.  Not that there's anything wrong with that!  The wine is aged for 18 months in oak which the winery describes as “very tight-grain Seguin Moreau and Hermitage hand crafted barrels.”

Upon pouring, I notice the wine is very dark.  Let's get real, it's practically black except for a little band of purple around the edges.  A gigantic blackberry nose shows oak spice and some clove notes.  An initial whiff of alcohol disappears after it settles down.  Big blackberry fruit is displayed on the palate, too.  A really warm expression of the oak rides along, with black pepper on the finish.  The sweet fruit and the savory, leathery aspect make for an intriguing sip, and big, toothy tannins plead for a filet seared quickly on both sides.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Cimarone Gran Premio Sangiovese 2008

Italian grape varieties are among my favorites from around the world, particularly Sangiovese.  Whether it's the fresh, youthful Chianti or the grizzled old Brunello, I love what this grape does when it's wine.

Gran Premio is an estate-grown Sangiovese from Cimarone’s Three Creek Vineyard in Santa Barbara County’s Happy Canyon AVA.  Happy Canyon is in the eastern end of the Santa Ynez Valley, which is protected from the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean by the same Mountain range that channels that cooling effect into the Sta. Rita Hills.

Cimarone's Gran Premio is a blend of two clones - there are are 14 clones of the Sangiovese grape - which were picked before full ripeness.  This allows for the exclusion of excessive sugar and a resulting wine which is quite dry.  The wine is fermented in open-top wood barriques, and the wood has quite an impact on its aromas and flavors.  

Doug Margerum was the winemaker for Gran Premio.  Effective with the 2011 vintage, Margerum's purple shoes will be filled by Andrew Murray, who has taken over as winemaker for Cimarone.  According to the label, I had bottle 36 of 600!  That means only 50 cases made, so you'd better grab fast. 

Gran Premio shows a medium dark hue in the glass.   The nose exudes blackberry and tar.  Very dark flavors of earthy plums and blackberry show up on the palate, with that tar angle coming in just behind the fruit.  What the label calls "fine tannins" means that this is a very smooth wine.  You can add several "o"s to "smooth" if that helps convey the message.  

This wine drinks not like a fruity, young wine, but more like a brunello, laden with the tarry notes that years can bring to this grape.  It's great tasting and very easy drinking.  With smoked Gouda on rosemary bread the taste is amazing.  I'd love to try it with lamb, or merguez sausage.  Premio retails for $40 and carries a 14.5% abv number.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Cimarone 3CV Bank 2009

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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


3CV Viognier

I sneaked away from my neighborhood recently for a glass of wine at the Colorado Wine Company in Eagle Rock, California, between Glendale and Pasadena.  After a little browsing of the racks in the front of the store, the small back room beckoned.  With a soundtrack of world music, the dark little space offered a rather tasty, if short, by-the-glass menu.

My choice for this Saturday afternoon quaff was the 3CV Viognier from Cimarone.  Doug Margerum takes the grapes from the Vogelzang Vineyard in the Happy Canyon AVA of Santa Barbara County.

The wine is produced by stainless steel fermentation with 25% of the juice moved to neutral French oak for barrel aging and malolactic fermentation.

Very light in color, the wine offers a huge floral nose with a nutty, almond aroma and a drapery of honey that's irresistible.

The taste is very clean, with crisp pears and great acidity.  The nutty finish hangs around forever, or at least until the next glass arrives.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011


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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Monday, December 6, 2010


Happy Canyon Chukker

Long a superlative winemaker in Santa Barbara County, Doug Margerum gets his Chin-on with a Happy Canyon Cabernet Franc blend called Chukker.

The label explains that "chukker" is a playing period in a polo game.  The popularity of polo in some of Santa Barbara’s wealthy ‘burbs would explain that facet of the definition, but the word descends from a circular concept in Eastern languages.  To find that the wine sits round and full in the mouth is no surprise.

Dark ruby in color, the nose is absolutely alive with jammy berry aromas and the full fruit flavors could scarcely be richer.  There is a faint suggestion of gaminess on the finish, and an acidity which would make you confident to serve it with anything.  The wine uses vibrancy as its calling card.  The alcohol level is 14.1% abv and it shows it upon opening the bottle.  Allow a little breathing time and the heat settles down.  I paid $13 for Chukker at a wine store.

The winemaker notes suggest that this wine is all about the spring portion of the calendar, so by that standard I’m a little out of season here in the Northern Hemisphere.  Margerum explains this wine was inspired by the Loire Valley wines drunk slightly cool in the Paris bistros.  He advises you drink Chukker the same way, although I drank mine above cellar temperature and was quite pleased.

The grapes are estate grown Cabernet Franc (40%), Merlot (40%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%).  Not listed on the label is a hint of Syrah which Margerum cops to on his website.  The grapes are all fermented in stainless steel, giving the sort of freshness one might look for in the spring.  The circular concept come into play again, and spring always gives way to summer, then autumn.

Pay attention to that "everything comes around" philosophy - don’t skip over this wine as a potential mate for your holiday meals.  Think of it as another dish of cranberry sauce on the table, but one that will go with your turkey and stuffing - or goose - much better.

I mentioned that in a brief email to Doug's brother, Hugh, and he replied, "Yes, it's a perfect match with holiday fare.  A little like a Beaujolais Nouveau, but with a bit more punch."

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Cimarone 3CV Syrah

The “tent sale” that Wally's Wine and Spirits throws every now and zin on Westwood Boulevard is a huge attraction for me.  I just love the whole “circus of wine” atmosphere that big tent over the parking lot produces.  And, as I have mentioned before, I love a bargain.

The biggest bargains at the tent sale are usually found on the highest-priced products.  50% off an $800 wine still leaves it a bit out of my neighborhood.  But even if I'm only saving $3 on a $20 wine, that gives me something else to feel good about.

Not that I needed much more to feel good about with Cimarone's 3CV Syrah.  This estate-grown, Santa Ynez Valley wine is a joy from start to glorious finish.

3CV stands for Three Creek Vineyard, which is where the fruit is grown.  Syrah clones 877, 383 and Noir are gathered for this limited release.  The fruit is certified organic.  My bottle is marked as “0514 of 6900.”

Roger and Priscilla Higgins, owners of Cimarone, hired the right man for the winemaking job.  Esteemed juiceman Doug Margerum made a name for himself when his family bought Santa Barbara's Wine Cask, then formed his own company, Margerum Wine Company.  He also makes wine for Barrack Wines and Cent'anne, in addition to Cimarone.  He's a busy guy.

The fruit is from the Happy Canyon AVA of Santa Barbara County.  3CV Syrah is aged ten months in neutral oak and has 14.5 abv.  The 3CV label is Cimarone's outlet for younger, affordable, early drinking wines.

The nose of anise, pepper and plums is quite enjoyable.  It's a dark purple that's difficult to see through.  The taste of black fruit and earth is lush, and it's compounded by the smoothness of the wine.  The tannins are like silk, but it has a great acidity and is nice and dry.  This wine drinks great immediately, and it takes on a bit of a tar component if left open for two or three days.