Showing posts with label Lompoc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lompoc. Show all posts

Friday, September 23, 2016

Moruno: Spanish Wine, Food And A Little SBC Vermouth

"Get something you've never tried before," said my wife as we scanned the wine list at Moruno, the Spanish restaurant in L.A.'s Original Farmers Market. It’s a great place, with delightful Spanish dishes and an adventurous wine list that leans heavily in the Iberian direction.

Since most of the plates we get there are new to me, it makes sense to go with a grape that’s under my radar as well. Hondarribi Beltza, f’rinstance. I have heard of Hondarribi's white counterpart, but was unfamiliar with the red version. It comes from a place called Bizkaiko.

Located in Spain's Basque Country, on the nation’s north coast, the Bizkaiko Txakolina region is a collection of more than 80 little communities all growing wine grapes. They make Txakoli wine largely from the white Hondarrabi Zuri grape. This wine is made from the less common red grape, Hondarribi Beltza, grown primarily in the coastal town of Bakio.

Gorrondona Bizkaiko Txakolina Hondarribi Beltza 2015

The waitress at Moruno offered the red Basque wine, and I could not resist. The wine's nose brings dark fruit layered with black olive and bell pepper. Its palate is just as savory, with some earthy blackberry in the balance.

The red Txakoli wine was great with the artichokes a la plancha - salty, caramelized exterior with a tender inner.  The music that was playing in the restaurant during our meal got high praise from my wife - big Eddie Kendricks fan.

But Wait, There's More...

I hate to relegate this to a postscript, but I asked for a taste of a vermouth that Moruno has on the menu. It's made by Steve Clifton of Lompoc's Palmina Wines and comes in both red and white. It's on tap in the restaurant from five-gallon kegs. The label images come from Palmina's Twitter feed.

The organic Vermina vermouth is a collaboration between Clifton and L.A. restaurateur David Rosoff. It’s part of Rosoff’s effort to bring European bistro dining to Southern California. Clifton reportedly digs around himself in Santa Barbara County to find the herbs he uses in the vermouth. According to the L.A. Weekly, the white vermouth is a blend of pinot grigio and malvasia wines, while the  red vermouth adds a touch of Sangiovese for its color.

It has a nose of violets and botanicals and shows wonderful freshness on the palate with a strawberry flavor that is carried along by the slightly medicinal notes of the botanicals.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Wine: Pali Charm Acres Chardonnay 2010

Here’s another brief set of notes about a wine I think you might want to pick up this summer.

Pali Wine Company is located in Lompoc, but they source grapes from different California growing regions.  Pali specializes in Pinot Noir, but they do some Chardonnay as well.  This one hails from the Sonoma Coast region.  The founders of Pali are from Pacific Palisades, and they name their wines after neighborhoods in their hometown.

Aaron Walker is the winemaker, working with consulting winemaker Kenneth Juhasz.  The Pali website states, “Walker and Juhasz are terroir specialists who strive to bring out the distinct characteristics of each of the sites we source for our fruit.”

The nose on the Charm Acres Chardonnay displays oak spices, toasted vanilla, green apple and a floral element.  It’s a great package of aromas.  The golden wine sits full in the mouth, and offers flavors of lime peel and pear juice with a hint of lemon chess pie.  It sports a nice level of acidity, especially considering its overall creaminess.  There is a long-lasting finish which lets the oak flavors play.

Try it with a salad on the patio - or some mixed greens on the veranda.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Pali Huntington Pinot Noir

Pali Wine Company specializes in making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in their Lompoc, California facility.  Their Pinots are made from grapes grown in what their website refers to as “top locations” - California’s Sonoma Coast, Sta. Rita Hills AVAs and Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  Founders Tim Perr and Scott Knight hail from the coastal SoCal community of Pacific Palisades, which is why their wines are named after neighborhoods there.

Pali plans to increase their production this year, and open a tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara, too.  They were kind enough to provide some samples for the purpose of this article.

I wrote about the Pali Riviera Pinot recently.  It was a Sonoma Coast product, while the Huntington is made from Santa Barbara County grapes.  The wine is aged for ten months in 30% new French oak barrels.  It sells for $21 and sports a 14.6% alcohol content.

The Huntington's dark purple color is a precursor to a nose that is amazing.  There's cassis up front, and further sniffing reveals aromas of chocolate syrup, coffee and spiced tea in a remarkably fresh and vibrant setting.  Smelling this wine is really a treat.  The palate shows ripe, dark fruit.  Black cherry and dark plums leap right out, with faint coffee notes and a finish of black cherry cola which hangs around quite a while.  The tannins are nice and firm - it's not a shy wine, and it may not be for Pinot purists.  There's a Syrah-like quality to it - that's how big and rich the Huntington drinks.

The wine is so big - even by California standards - I sent an email asking for verification that it was actually 100% Pinot Noir.  Winemaker Aaron Walker replied:

"The 2010 Huntington (and all Pali Pinots for that matter) is 100% Pinot Noir. We have never blended any other varietals into any of our pinots.

"Most of our 2010 pinots are very big and fruit forward - it was the late heat at the end of the growing season that produced this style. The 2010 summer/growing season was very cool, with very little significant heat until late September and early October when we saw two big heat waves. In most cases this caused the grapes to ripen (almost to the point of being over ripe) very rapidly. This resulted in wines that are big, jammy and very fruity. I can see why you might think there is some syrah in this wine - but truly it is 100% pinot noir from vineyards in Santa Maria Valley and Sta Rita Hills.

"And if you think that wine is big, you should try our 2010 Summit - 100% Sta Rita Hills pinot noir - it is massive!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Curran Grenache Blanc

In Southern California, there is an embarrassment of riches where wine is concerned.   Beautiful wine country, vineyards and rustic wineries are never very far away, in any direction.  Living just a two-and-a-half hour drive away from the Santa Ynez Valley north of Santa Barbara has helped me fall in love with the wines of this region over and over again.

Winemaker Kris Curran is half of the D’Alfonso-Curran label.  Bruno D’Alfonso makes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, while Curran makes her own wines of several European varieties.

The team makes wine near Lompoc and the tasting room is in Solvang, but the grapes for Curran’s Grenache Blanc are sourced from the warm eastern side of the Santa Ynez Valley.  The grapes were whole cluster pressed, giving the wine an amazing herbal quality.  The alcohol content is a hefty 14.1%, and the bottle cost $19 at a Manhattan Beach wine store.

The Curran Grenache Blanc is a pale golden color in the glass.  It has a most interesting and aromatic nose, showing the smell of apricot and melon covered with an herbal component, like fresh snap peas or cauliflower.  There is also some wet hay in the bouquet.  More than a hint of alcohol sneaks into the aromas at first, but that diminishes over time.

Full and rather oily in the mouth, the palate displays peach and apricot flavors which are met with a sense of almond paste and a hint of straw.  Minerals are clearly present, while a tropical guava note persists into the lengthy finish.  I love the way the almost-creamy mouthfeel gives way to a strident acidity on the finish.  Malolactic fermentation was inhibited during the creation of this wine, making its fullness somewhat a s
urprise.  It’s rather like a magic trick, a rewarding one.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tasting Notes: Pink Fiddle

The Bottle: The clear glass bottle leaves no doubt that this Fiddlehead Cellars wine is a rose that looks like a Spanish rosado, more on the red end of the spectrum than the pink. The Pinot Noir grapes are from the Santa Rita Hills in lovely Santa Barbara County. If you don't recognize the Lompoc locale, that's probably because it is well off the beaten path, but very much worth checking out. The abv is 14.4%, a tad high for even a dry rose. It's got a screw cap, if that sort of thing bothers you. It doesn't bother me.

The Nose: Strawberries and watermelon abound in this rich nose that screams "Summertime!" The aromas remind me a bit of a backyard swimming pool, in a very good way. Maybe it's the mental connection to the pools of my youth and the summery treats that seemed to go along with them.

The Taste: This is a robust rose! It's a real mouthful, with vibrant flavors - almost artificial, like candy - of the aforementioned strawberry and melon, but with a little touch of cran-raspberry thrown in. It's a great wine to take out on the patio on a hot summer day, but it could hold it's own on the dinner table. I think a pasta with an Alfredo sauce would go nicely with it, or maybe some grilled calamari.