Showing posts with label Joshua Klapper. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joshua Klapper. Show all posts

Friday, November 14, 2014

Holiday Wines 2014: Joshua Klapper

A series on wines for the holidays.

A sommelier who became a winemaker, Joshua Klapper, is one of those vintners you will see a lot if you attend wine tasting events in Southern Californa.  He pours his La Fenêtre and À Coté wines with the fervor of a revivalist.  Most of the time, he is preaching to the choir.  That does not cause him to call off the sermon, though.  His name has become widely known since he joined the Santa Barbara County wine scene almost a decade ago.

Klapper's focus at La Fenêtre is making food-friendly wines.  He respects the Old World techniques and embraces the terroir of California's Central Coast. His wines are source fruit from some of the most famous vineyards around and he lets those grapes do most of the talking.

Klapper made a splash with his Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and has now turned his talents to the Riesling grape as well.  He suggests a red and a white - always looking for balance - to make your holiday meal even more memorable.
2013 Dr Klapper Riesling, Santa Barbara County $22.50

"Nothing says holidays like Riesling. It is the best wine for thanksgiving as the acidity and touch of residual sugar make it pair well with everything on the table from turkey and stuffing, to mashed potatoes, to candied yams and cranberry sauce. Literally the perfect holiday wine."

"Pale straw color, with a hint of ‘spritz’ from the cold fermentation, the nose is bright with notes of lychee, white flowers, white pepper, and orange blossom. On the palate the entry has a hint of sweetness with vibrant acidity. The palate includes green apple Jolly Rancher, honey suckle, dried stone fruits (apricot and peach), and a touch of viscosity. The acidity makes the extremely long finish hint of fresh lemon, lime, and orange zest. Drink now-2016 (or cellar for a very long time cause old Riesling ROCKS!)"

2011 La Fenetre Pinot Noir, Presqu'ile Vineyard   $45

"Ditto for Pinot Noir, literally perfect with holiday fare.  Turkey, ham, fall root vegetables and mushrooms all pair extremely well with this wine.

"Planted in the late 1990’s (when the vineyard was called Addamo) the section our fruit comes from is one of the most perfectly manicured blocks of Pinot Noir I have ever seen. All clone 777, this part of Santa Maria, called the Solomon Hills, has been long recognized as a perfect terroir for dense, powerful, yet distinctly elegant fruit, which is the hallmark of the region.  Again for 2011 we did part of the fermentation whole cluster, which is a big component of this wine.

"Deep red, this wine has quite a bit of power.  The nose hints of cherry cola, cinnamon, and baking spices and the whole cluster adds a spicy, earthy element not unlike the smell of soil and red flowers after a warm spring rain.  I know it sounds crazy, but hey… this is what I do!  The palate is full, with a good amount of grip and fine tannin to balance the lushness of the Dijon Clone 777.  The long finish evokes cloves, a touch of vanilla bean, and almonds.  Drink 2014-2025+."


Joshua Klapper
La Fenêtre Wines
2705 Aviation Way #100
Santa Maria, CA 93455
Phone: 310-977-5615 • Fax: 888-834-1686

Monday, February 13, 2012


Pasadena PinotFest 2012

The wintry weather - well, for SoCal that’s 58 degrees and a threat of rain - didn’t dampen the passions of Pinot Noir lovers who flocked to the fourth annual Pasadena PinotFest on February 11, 2012.

The PinotFest is the creation of Mike Farwell, managing partner and wine director of Pasadena’s Noir Food and Wine.  Not only does his event bring Pinot to the people, it also helps raise money for deserving charities.  This year, Hathaway-Sycamores Childrens Services benefited from money raised.

a gray day in AltadenaIt’s billed as the Pasadena PinotFest even though the event is now held at the Altadena Country Club.  The drive north from Pasadena toward the foothills is a short one, and the surroundings are absolutely beautiful at the ACC, even on a gray day.  

Hundreds of Southern California wine lovers made their way through the circuit of wine stations set up in two different rooms, across a hallway from one another.  The aisles in Hall One seemed to offer plenty of space at first, but as the crowd grew in size the space diminished.  

Chef Claud BeltranAfter bumping my way around the room, I took refuge in Hall Two every so often.  It was a lot roomier and there was a food station there.  Chef Claud Beltran (left) and his crew made sure we all had plenty of tasty treats with which to refresh our palates.

Joshua KlapperI’ve been seeing Joshua Klapper (right) so often lately my wife is starting to get jealous.  I’ve run into Klapper and his La Fenêtre and À Côté wines at a string of tasting events dating back to last fall.  His table was my very first stop, and he was unusually unoccupied at the moment.  “I don’t mind,” he said.  “It’ll get busy.”  It always gets busy when he pours his ‘09 À Côté Central Coast Pinot with the pretty nose and the ‘09 La Fenêtre Santa Maria Valley, $23 and $30 respectively.  Klapper said the latter is “from the Bien Nacido and Sierra Madre Vineyards.  Some pretty old vines there.  Both vineyards were planted in the early seventies.” 

Winemaker Ryan Zotovich was pouring elsewhere, so his dad, Pete, stood in for him ably.  Pete told me his brother Steve - the owner of the vineyard - thinks so much of Ryan that he often likes to claim him as his own.  After offering a Rosé of Syrah -produced in response to the Viognier crop resulting in disappointing yields - there was the Zotovich ‘09 Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills and the Reserve Pinot.  Both show earthy notes and great acidity, with the reserve displaying more of a floral aspect.

Ryan Carr
Ryan Carr (left) poured his Carr Vineyards & Winery '09 Sta. Rita Hills, which utilizes three vineyards and feels brambly with a sense of rocks and dust.

Harmonique calls themselves “Harmonique Pinot Noir,” even though they also offer Chardonnay.  This Anderson Valley winery gives their Pinots names: Delicasé has a slightly sour cherry palate, while Eleganté is fruitier with a cola finish.  The Noble One shows a touch more spiciness.  They also poured Cima Collina ‘07 Chula Viña Pinot Noir, with  gobs of spicy black cherry.

The Hitching Post label is the home for the wine creations of Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini.  Ostini’s Hitching Post Restaurant is one of the Santa Barbara County businesses to have gained a sky-high profile in the aftermath of the film, “Sideways.”  The Hartley-Ostini ‘09 Hometown Santa Barbara County Pinot shows great acidity along with coffee and tea notes, while their ‘08 St. Rita’s Earth is a Sta. Rita Hills entry loaded with black cherry aromas and flavors.  A splash of their 2001 Clos Pepe Vineyard Pinot shows that one coming along very nicely, a dark and earthy experience with coffee and tea notes.

Graner and Bobbie ThorneGraner and Bobbie Thorne (right) provided a delightful representation for their Thorne Wine.  I asked if they are married, or just dating.  Bobbie laughed while Graner replied, "We finally tied the knot 53 years ago.”  Rio Vista Vineyard is their estate property and Ken Brown makes their wines.  The Thorne '08 and '09 Estate Sta. Rita Hills Pinots both have great acidity and big notes of tea, with a long cola finish.

Moshin Vineyards' 2009 Lost Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot has a full, earthy nose and plenty of black cherry flavor.

Arnaud DebonsThe Riboli Family has winemaker Arnaud Debons (left) working out of their San Antonio Winery near downtown Los Angeles.  The Ribolis have vineyards in other parts of California.  I'm still taken with their '09 Windstream Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot.  Dark fruit and fantastic acidity make this one a real winner.

The Kenneth Volk Vineyards '09 Solomon Hills Pinot has beautiful chocolate notes.  I wish I could have tasted longer, but the thirsty mob surged and literally pushed me down to the Longoria table.

Rick LongoriaRick Longoria (right) seemed happy to have me end up there.  His 2010 Longoria Sta. Rita Hills Lovely Rita brings great minerality to a beautifully soft palate.

The Toretti family poured their 2010 Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley, full of dark fruit.

Bob Cabral, the director of winemaking for Williams Seylem, was named last year’s Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  His 2010 Sonoma County Pinot shows beautiful black cherry on the nose with a delightful sour cherry palate.  Great notes of black tea decorate the 2010 Russian River Valley.

Paul Clary says his Clary Ranch Vineyard is "farthest west in the Petaluma Gap for vineyards producing grapes for still wine."  He calls his '06 Pinot Burgundian, with tea on the nose and a great minerality.  The '04 is more fruit-driven.  Clary told me, “This was a warmer vintage.  I harvested in mid-September when i normally harvest in late October or even early November.”

Lisa and Scott NealScott and Lisa Neal (left) are a husband/wife winemaking team of Coeur de Terre Vineyard in McMinnville, Oregon.  The division of labor works out this way: she grows, he vinifies.  Their Willamette Valley Pinot is only $21, yet it's incredibly smooth with great acidity and a dark, black cherry cola palate.  Lisa explained, “We lost a lot of fruit to birds - they love those small berries.  For the first time in 13 years I got out the shotgun.  At first I was shooting to scare, but as we lost more and more fruit, I was shooting to kill.”  Don't get between a winegrower and her grapes.  The Coeur de Terre 2009 Estate Pinot shows an impressive array of very dark fruit, while the '06 Renelle’s Block - a $65 bottle - is dark yet soft with gentle, supple tannins - an extremely drinkable wine.

Brandon Sparks-GillisBrandon Sparks-Gillis (right) was a busy man - a pouring machine, in fact, when I showed up.  The Dragonette Cellars 2010 Fiddlestix Vineyard smacks with a great acidity, its big fruit tempered by an herbal aspect and spiciness he attributes to whole cluster pressing.

Phantom Rivers Wine of Arroyo Grande sources their fruit.  Almost all their wines are vineyard-specific.  The 2007 Wolff Vineyard shows Edna Valley minerals and some great spice and chocolate.  Rich cherry dominates the '08 Wolff while the '09 Mar Vista Vineyard, Arroyo Grande, is quite earthy.

At the D’Alfonso-Curran Wines table, the '06 Badge Sta. Rita Hills has a lovely, bright cherry expression. 

Norm YostI could barely get close enough to the Flying Goat Cellarstable for Norm Yost (left) to give me a pour.  Fortunately, he has long arms.  His 2009 Santa Maria Valley Garey Vineyard displays one of the best sour cherry expressions I've tasted.  He also has a hit with the gentle fruit of his '08 Rio Vista Vineyard Pinot.

Stephen Ross Wine Cellars had three Pinots from what Paula Dooley called "extremely small vineyards."  A nearby wit chimed in, "How small? One grape - that's all."  That's an exaggeration, of course.  The Stephen Ross '09 Chorro Creek Vineyard - in San Luis Obispo County - is a lovely purple, smooth and mineral-laden.  Their '09 Stone Corral Vineyard from Edna Valley also shows great minerals - a given for Edna Valley - and a cola finish.

Randy RozakRandy Rozak, (right) of Rozak Vintners in the northeastern corner of the Sta. Rita Hills, poured two 2007 Pinots.  "A Block" features the Pommard clone and "C Block" is the Dijon clone.  Both show big fruit and great acidity.

Solvang's  Bratcher Winery 2009 Santa Maria Valley Pinot is just about the darkest ever, while their '09 La Encantada Sta. Rita Hills shows red fruit with cola notes.

Arcadian Winery's Jill's Cuvée Soloman Hills brings that Santa Maria Valley earth to the forefront - it's downright smoky.  They like to keep their wines in tight-grain French oak for quite a while.  2006 and 2007 are their current releases.

Rebecca WorkRebecca Work (left) poured at the Ampelos Cellars table.  The Ampelos 2008 Estate Sta. Rita Hills shows sour cherry and tea.

Sonoma's Sojourn Cellars is fronted by Craig Haserot and winemaker Erich Bradley.  Their 2010 Sangiacomo Vineyard effort is a lovely 95-point wine showing minerals and creamy fruit.  Their 2010 Gap’s Crown Vineyard is all about the luscious red fruit.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Pinot Days 2012

It was a nice, spring-like day in Santa Monica - even though it was January 28, 2012 - and Pinot Days made another landing at Santa Monica Airport's Barker Hangar.

Producers of Pinot Noir wines - largely from California, although a few Oregon wineries were also in attendance - set up shop and poured their product for Southern California with great gusto.  If you didn't make it out for the event, you really should plan on doing so next year.  

There are so many different styles of Pinot represented, it's a great way to expand your palate and get a glimpse of some of the different ways the grape can be expressed.

Kenneth Volk and shirt du jourKenneth Volk (at right), head grape geek at Kenneth Volk Vineyards, wowed the crowd with his 2009 Enz Vineyard Pinot Noir.  The grapes for this behemoth come from Lime Kiln Valley - a Gavilin Mountain region Volk leases and has worked with for 13 vintages.  “It’s my monopole,” Volk declared, describing the extent of his involvement in that region.  “The area was first planted when California was still under the Spanish flag," Volk said in the way of a history lesson.  "My Pinot comes from a vineyard planted in 1895.  I planted it to Pinot Noir in ‘96.”  The wine is hugely aromatic, with mocha and flowers on nose.  Big red fruit dominates the taste and a massive acidity can best be described as bracing.  For those wishing a not-so-humongous Pinot, Volk's 2009 Bien Nacido Vineyard from the Santa Maria Valley shows a great fruity nose, juicy taste , and minty tea on the finish.

Dierberg Vineyards was ably respresented by Kevin Gallagher, who showed me some pictures of their winery facility in Happy Canyon.  It's a real showcase, although it's not open to public.  The green barn tasting room between Buellton and Lompoc is all most visitors know.  "In the tasting room, we used to have pictures of the winery on the walls," said Gallagher.  "People would see them and say 'we wanna go there.'  We took the pictures down."  I guess they don't want anybody bothering winemaker Andy Alda while he works his magic in his palatial surroundings.  Gallagher referred to the 2009 Three Saints as the "little brother," and the 2009 Dierberg Vineyard Pinot as the "big brother."  Both hail from the Santa Ynez Valley, the former showing red fruit and the latter exhibiting black cherry.

Stewart Johnson's Kendric Vineyards is located in San Anselmo, California in Northern Marin County.  You may not have heard of any vineyards there, and Johnson says, "That's because the good growing locations are few and far between.  I had to dig a zillion holes to find the right soil."  I'd say he found it.  Johnson poured a fascinating vertical of his Pinot Noir vintages from 2004 to 2009.  '08 and '09 are very aromatic, while '04 and '05 are showing an intriguing eucalyptus note.  All six vintages show great minerals.

crowd at Pinot Days 2012La Fenêtre's tireless winemaker Joshua Klapper was a very familiar face for some of us.  I had just seen him two days earlier at another tasting event.  Thankfully he hadn't tired of me.  The La Fenêtre 2009 Le Bon Climat Vineyard Pinot has an expressive bouquet with a slightly 
tart flavor and a big black tea finish.  Klapper thought there might have been sediment in the bottom of the bottle from which he poured my taste, and he asked how I liked it.  "Not too gritty, is it?".  It wasn't.  I have the feeling if Klapper made a gritty wine, the wine would somehow be better for it. 

A lesson on how consumers are swayed by wine scores awared by critics was something I didn't need, but I saw it for myself during a palate-cleansing break.  A patron toting his wine glass and looking for the next wine to sample spied a sign at one table touting a critic's score.  The gentleman uttered a monotone "ninety-five point Pinot Noir..." as he was drawn - as if by gravity - toward the Sojourn Cellars table.  Spellbound, he sipped and nodded in approval.

Presqu'ile Winery's South African winemaker Dieter Cronje offered a Rosé of Pinot Noir made in the saignée method, in which the juice is bled off from the skins with the intention of making a pink wine.  His '09 rosé displays tons of fruit aromas and flavors.  Cronje suggested it as the perfect wine to sip while  "sitting on a patio, looking at a beach and enjoying the afternoon."  Presqu'ile's 2009 Estate Pinot Noir is bright with acidity and quite herbal, due to the whole cluster pressing of the grapes.  It has a very Old World feel, with manageable tannins and restrained alcohol.

Pinot Days 2012 Oregon sectionThe Oregon section of the hangar was quite busy.  The crowding around these tables indicated there was a lot of interest in Oregon Pinot.  
Napa vintner Craig Camp poured hisCornerstone Cellars Oregon Pinot, the product of his partnership with winemaker Tony Rynders.  Their 2009 Willamette Valley shows beautiful sour cherry flavor with tea on the very long finish.  

Sokol Blosser Winery crossed the state line with their 2009 Dundee Hills Pinot, which is light with fresh, red fruit, great acidity and black tea on the finish.

Pali Wine Company makes wine near the airport on the west side of Lompoc, California.  They do produce an Oregon Pinot, though.  The 2010 "Alphabets" from the Willamette Valley shows some very herbal black tea notes.

Pali's Calirfornia efforts were just as good.  The 2009 Cargasacchi Vineyard has dark fruit, spices and traces of coffee.  The 2009 Fiddlestix Vineyard, from the Sta. Rita Hills, has beautiful blackberry, tons of acidity and minerals.

Santa Barbara County's Tantara Winery has a pinot that really floored me. The 2008 Solomon Hills has massive aromas of chocolate, an herbal palate with very dark fruit and spice and a cola finish.  Their 2009 Sta. Rita Hills Rio Vista Vineyard is all about dark fruit and tannins.

The Malibu Vineyard features the work of winemakers Bruno d'Alfonso and Kris Curran.  Their 2008 Rambla Pacifico is aromatic with flavors of plum.

The Zotovich Cellars table was manned by winemaker Ryan Zotovich, although when I stopped by owner/dad Steve was pouring the 2009 Reserve Zotovich Family Estate Vineyard showing brilliant acidity and bright cherries.

There wasn't much Paso Robles Pinot present, but Glen Hartigan of Hartigan Cellarsmanaged to bring some.  Hartigan told me, "I've made wine for 20 years but this is the first time I've done it commercially."  His west side Paso 2009 Hastings Ranch has a lovely expression of 
mocha on the nose and an all-red-fruit palate.  As you might expect from Paso Robles, there was plenty of acidity and forceful tannins.

Alma Rosa's 2008 Sta. Rita Hills is pure cherry with a lovely tartness on the finish.  Their 2009 La Encantada offers black cherry and tea in a much more complex palate.

The Vin Village table had Rob Barnett pouring the 2008 Lucas & Lewelen Santa Barbara County, full of red fruit and minerals.  The 2009 Goodchild High 9 Vineyard was wonderfully dark, with coffee notes.  The Witch Creek Winery Clarksburg Pinot is an easy drinker with black tea notes.

Olivia Brion Winery, at 1200 feet in the Vaca Mountain Range east of Napa Valley, occupies one of the coolest growing regions in the area.  Winemaker David Mahaffey spoke of the '09, '10 and '11 vintages as a "mini ice age."  The 2009 Wild Horse Valley Vineyard is bright and floral, but "not ready yet," according to Mahaffey.  "Needs another month or so," he said.

Ancient Oaks in Sonoma County was hoping to find a SoCal rep during their visit.  The 2008 Russian River Valley delivers a very big fruit expression, while the 2009 Siebert Ranch Estate Pinot has gobs of dark fruit and a big tea finish.  You get fantastic acidity in both, at $25 and $32 respectively.

Bien Nacido Vineyards poured the 2008 Solomon Hills, from the sandy soil of the westernmost vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley.  The 2008 Bien Nacido displayed that vineyard's limestone and shale with big minerals.  I could really taste the rocks. 

Fritz Winery produces in Cloverdale.  The big, bright cherry of the Jenner 2010 Sonoma Coast contrasted with the dark minerals, plums and anise in the 2009 Lost Canyon Goff-Whitton Vineyard Pinot.

Ken Brown made the trip from Solvang with his 2008 Sta. Rita Hills, which shows  beautiful tart candy, and the 2010 Santa Maria Valley Garey vineyard and its giant note of black tea. 

Loring Wine Company showed their 2010 Clos Pepe Vineyard, dominated by a smoky cherry flavor and raspberry finish. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012


STARS of Santa Barbara wine tasting glasses

The amazing California wines of Santa Barbara County were showcased at the Peninsula Hotel's Verandah Room in Beverly Hills on January 26, 2012.  What brought wine country to the hills of Beverlee was the STARS of Santa Barbara tasting event, from Los Angeles wine educator Ian Blackburn and his Learn About Wine outfit.

The yearly event always offers a great overview of the Santa Barbara wine scene, and attracts some of the best winemakers in California to pour for the eager masses.

As usual, the event had a great turnout.  At the afternoon trade and media session, I had the opportunity to sample some great wines - some which were simply stunning - and get in a little conversation with the winemakers and other presenters.

Dan Fredman represents Los Alamos producer Martian Vineyard, and he poured their biodynamically-farmed wines while announcing that their Demeter certification will be official this year.  He also sang the praises of new winemaker Mike Roth, a New Jersey native who has been making wine in the Santa Ynez Valley for close to a decade.  Martian Vineyard's2009 Grenache is a standout, showing dusty berries and cherries on the nose and a very earthy minerality on the palate.  At $24, it's well worth the price.

Larry Shaffer, Tercero WinesLarry Shaffer (right) said he made this year's Tercero Wines "atAndrew Murray's place," meaning Murray's winery in Los Olivos.  "Next year? I have no clue.  But I still have six months to figure it out."  From one of his famous flasks, Shaffer poured his 2007 Grenache sourced from the Watch Hill Vineyard in Los Alamos.  The wine was 25% whole cluster pressed, giving a great herbal edge to an already complex wine.  I love the acidity in this one.

Toretti Family Vineyard is a five acre plot which sits on the bluff overlooking the Santa Maria Valley.  Robert Torres talked about his operation dealing with seeing their grape production fall from 15 tons to 11 tons to 8 tons in three successive vintages.  The bright side is the concentrated flavor in the smaller berries, although I couldn't help but get the feeling he'd have been satisfied with more wine to sell.  Toretti's 2009 Inocencio Pinot Noir shows perfume and earth on the sniff, and tastes very dark for such a lightly tinted wine.

At the Westerly Wines table, I was enjoying a conversation with company president Vito Gambini.  He was extolling the capabilities of his winemaker, Kirby Anderson when a gentleman walked up and said to Vito, "Hi! How's Kirby?"  Vito replied, "He's great.  He's my winemaker!"  The gentleman then said, "I know.  He's my winemaker too!"  It goes to show the wine community is a very small town, even in a big county like Santa Barbara.  Westerly's 2009 Chardonnay puts a fascinating smoky edge on the fruit.  I couldn't believe it when I was told it a $19 wine.  Vito also poured a dessert wine called Apres - a sweet Viognier in which the grapes are put on racks to dry naturally before vinifying.  It's sweet, not cloying, and has a great acidity with a full-on peach cobbler flavor.  Westerly Wines was purchased earlier this month and the inventory is now available through TTT Vineyards.  

Joshua Klapper, La Fenetre WineJoshua Klapper (left, Doctor Klapper in the event's program) poured his La Fenêtre and À Côté wines while riffing on them, and his descriptions of them - "Nice, huh?  The way I can condense three years of work into one sentence!"  His 2008 La Fenêtre Syrah comes from the Alisos Vineyard above Los Alamos.  Like all the vineyards from which he draws, it's a cool climate growing area.  Klapper says it's "more black olive than blackberry."   This savory wine has big tannins, all the better to go with a big steak.

Riverbench Vineyard and Winery's new winemaker Clarissa Nagy was at the event, pouring the 2008 Estate Pinot Noirwith a smokey load of minerals.

The Zaca Mesa table was handled by Jessica Simmons.  She was excited to pour their2007 Roussanne - the current release.  The Santa Ynez Valley wine showed nice acidity and a nutty salinity.

Others pointed me in the direction of the Dragonette Cellars table, where Brandon Sparks-Gillis poured their massively floral 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley.  Grapes from the Vogelzang, Grassini and Refugio Ranch Vineyards give amazing tropical flavors and acidity.

Dan Reeves represented his Reeves Ranch Vineyard well with the 2008 Syrah.  The fruit comes from his estate vineyard in the hills overlooking Los Olivos as well as Black Oak Vineyard in Los Alamos.  It's a dark and meaty joy.

An urban winery in Santa Barbara, Silver Wines is the creation of winemaker Benjamin Silver, former winemaker at Zaca Mesa.  He honed his craft there under the tutelage ofDaniel Gehrs.  Silver's 2007 Four Barrel Especial Syrah from White Hawk Vineyard offers up a sweet and smoky nose with a gigantic display of earth on the palate.

From the east side of the Santa Maria Valley, Byron's 2009 Pinot Blanc shows plenty of that SMV minerality and a nice layer of salinity, not to mention the floral aspect.  WinemakerJonathan Nagy has created a very nice white wine to sit beside his notable Pinot Noirs.

Cambria Estate Winery in the Santa Maria Valley produces some respected Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah under winemaker Denise Shurtleff.  The Cambria 2007 Bench Break Pinot Noir has especially dark and smoky aromas and is dark, but delicate, on the palate.  The small berries from this vintage really pack some punch.

Michael Bonaccorsi was a Master Sommelier, the somm at Spago in Beverly Hills and a winemaker until his untimely death in 2004.  The 2008 Bonaccorsi  Pinot Noir uses fruit from the Fiddlestix, Cargasacchi and Melville vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills.  Smoke and cherry on the nose make way for a palate featuring great minerality and a pleasingly tart edge on the finish.

Learn About Wine signageAt the D'Alfonso-Curran table, I had a taste of Kris Curran's2007 Curren Tempranillo.  A campfire nose meets a cherry and raspberry palate.

Fontes & Phillips Wines were represented by the company namesakes, Rochelle and Alan, respectively.  Their rosé, the2009 Panky, is made from Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah from the Santa Ynez Valley's Camp 4 Vineyard.  I sipped and listened to other tasters comment on Panky's resemblence to a rosé from Tavel.   

Brophy Clark Cellars has a winner with their 2009 GSM Santa Ynez Valley.  Bright cherry flavor and a wonderful acidity arise from the Estelle Vineyard Grenache, Camp 4 Vineyard Syrah and Mourvèdre from the 100-year-old vines of the Del Barbra Vineyard.

Sanguis makes wine in a converted warehouse in downtown Santa Barbara.  I was not familiar with them, but they're on my radar now after tasting their 2008 Endangered Species Proprietary Red Wine.  One of the more eye-opening efforts I tasted, the earthy, smoke-filled nose leads to some amazing minerality and eucalyptus on the palate.  It's heavy on the Syrah with splashes of Roussanne and Viognier, and spent 32 months in oak.  Sanguis is Latin for "blood," and the pronunciation is "sahn' gwiss."