Showing posts with label Santa Rita Hills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Santa Rita Hills. Show all posts

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lafond Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2007

Driving is something which lost its charm for me a long time ago.  I don't know about where you live, but in Los Angeles driving the surface streets generally means going slowly from one red light to the next.  It's not a whole lot better on the freeways, but at least the freeways can take you to a place that's special.  I know US Highway 101 can.  That's how we get to the Santa Barbara County wine country.

On my most recent trip there, one of my stops was Lafond Winery.  I enjoyed my short visit there so much, I had to bring some of it back home with me for a time when I really needed a little reminder of wine country.  With so much driving this week, it's time.

Lafond's Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir comes from those beautiful rolling hills dotted with vineyards.  Its purple  hue is so dark I can barely see through it.  There's currant on the nose, some spices and a fine earthiness, too.  But the big feature is a floral component that is gorgeous.  On the palate I find big dark fruit, tons of earth and a little tobacco.

The wine runs a little hot upon opening, and for half an hour after that, too.  Decant, or at least give it some time to breathe.  Its alcohol number is 14.5% abv.  2,800 cases of this wine were produced.  I bought it myself at the tasting room discount of $24.  It was worth the drive.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tasting Room: Alma Rosa, Buellton

Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards was founded in 1970 by Richard and Thekla Sanford.  Not only were they on board early in recognizing the Santa Rita Hills as a good place to grow grapes, they also were among the first to plant Pinot Noir there.  Alma Rosa is described on their website as "an enterprise dedicated to creating high quality wines and setting a benchmark for organic farming, sustainable agriculture methods, and environment-friendly commerce."  Oh, and their wines rock.

My visit occured on a day when there was considerable celebration at all the area wineries, and Alma Rosa was no exception. Going through the small tasting room to a back area where a band played something that sounded like the Grateful Dead's version of reggae, I settled into what seemed to be Hippie Heaven. Taking a cue from the warm and sunny afternoon weather, I decided to sample some white wines.

Santa Rita Hills Pinot Blanc 2007 - There's just a bit of oak on this wine.  A lemony, creamy pepper taste springs forth from a very lively and fresh, green nose.

La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Blanc 2007 - A fresh nose is found here, too.  There's a little less oak influence.  With a very creamy mouthfeel, it's a pleasure to drink.

Santa Barbara County Pinot Gris 2008 - The fresh noses were out in force today.  A pear flavor dominates, but a bit of a tropical play figures in, too.  It's steel fermented and aged six months in French oak.

Pinot Gris La Encantada Vineyard 2007 - Apricot and tangerine flavor the wine after a floral nose.  Lots of minerals produce a crisp and clean palate.

Chardonnay El Jabali Vineyard 2006 - A woody nose greets you, but it's not overdone. Tropical flavors and pears rule the palate.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tasting Room: Lafond Winery and Vineyards, Buellton

Lafond Winery is in the beautiful vineyard land near Buellton, west of Highway 101 on Santa Rosa Road.  The Santa Rita Hills are lovely and they contain vineyards which produce some very special fruit.  

Pierre Lafond has been utilizing some of this special fruit since he started Santa Barbara Winery in 1962.  That was the first winery in Santa Barbara County since prohibition.  In 1971 Pierre planted Lafond Vineyard, then expanded his vineyard acreage in 1996.  The Santa Rita Hills winery began construction two years later and it opened to visitors in 2001.  

Award-winning winemaker Bruce McGuire came to Santa Barbara Winery in the early '80s and also oversees the wines of Lafond Winery.  McGuire helped pioneer Pinot Noir and Syrah in Santa Barbara County.  His talent shows in every bottle.

The grounds of the winery are gorgeous and hospitable.  Everywhere you look the scenery is great, but there is one spot that really pops the cork.  Just to the right of the tasting room you can look across the vineyard to the hills on the other side.  The serenity in that spot is almost overwhelming.  It makes a great backdrop for snapshots, too.

The interior of the tasting room is fairly businesslike, with little of that wine country decor many wineries like to toss around.  The staff is quite friendly and very helpful, even when tending to a number of guests, as they were when I visited.  Even though there was a full house at the tasting bar, I received plenty of attention and had all my questions answered.  That may sound like business as usual, but I hate to think about how many times I've had a question in a tasting room and been told "I don't know."   Not here.

It was a very pleasant experience at Lafond, and the wines also had a bit to do with that.  Here is what I tasted:

Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay 2007 - A blend of grapes from several vineyards, this wine is clean and crisp.  It's fruity with minerals.  Refreshing enough, certainly, for the porch this summer, but the nice acidity will have it pairing well with food, too.

Lafond Vineyard Chardonnay 2006 - All estate-grown, this Chard has twice as much time in oak as the SRH.  It's quite smooth, and the effect of the wood quite noticeable.

Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2007 - All 8 Pinot Noir clones grown here contribute.  The wine is noted for earth, spice and lavender.

Lafond Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 - Four clones are in this one; it's bright and spicy with slight raspberry/cherry tones.

Lafond Vineyard Syrah Grenache - 60 Syrah and 40% Grenache, the nose is full of cherry and spice.  Earth, blackberry and cedar mark the palate.

Santa Rita Hills Syrah - 2008 - 58% of the fruit in this wine comes from the Lafond Vineyard.  It's a complex nose with hints of bell pepper.  There is big fruit in this one, but it's still rather young.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"They Got This Recession On" Wines, Part 5

Santa Rita Carmenere Reserva 2007 is a dark place to go.  Fortunately. I'm not afraid of the dark.  In fact, I kind of like it when the lights are out.  That's what happens when you hold a glass of this Carmenere up to the light - darkness ensues.  It's an inky purple color which literally lets no light pass through.  The aromas are just as dark: blackberries that have been tromped down into a muddy trail come to mind.  There's also a spiciness, possibly anise and maybe some nutmeg.  It's an intriguing nose.  The taste follows suit.  It's dark and brooding on the palate, certainly not a fruitfest.  I would imagine this to be a wine that is not to everyone's liking.  But if you have a fondness for the dark side of the vineyard, this may be just for you.  For only $8, it really has a lot to offer.

Winemaker:  Andres Ilabaca
Varietal:  Carmenere
Appelation:  Chile > Valle Central > Rapel Valley
Vintage:  2007
Alcohol Level:  14.1%
Price:  $8 (on sale)
Acquisition disclaimer:  I bought this wine at BevMo.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lincourt Pinot Blanc 2008

The Bottle: A beautiful clear bottle shows off the pale color nicely. On the front we learn that the grapes come from the Santa Rita Hills, Courtney's Vineyard, specifically. On the back we learn how wonderful the growing conditions are in Santa Barbara County for Pinot Blanc. They say it has something to do with the long, dry growing season. The wine shows an abv of 13.6%.

The Nose: I drank the wine quite chilled (it was a hot day) and as a result, many aromas were not within my reach. I thought there was some melon there, and the minerals made a nice play in the bouquet.

The Taste: Very refined, this wine. A clean and crisp feel in the mouth, along with just enough acidity, produces a tendency to gulp. But try to slow down and savor. Good minerals are here, with lots of wet rocks in the first part of the mouthful. Then a wave of pears and apples comes in, very crisp, not baked. Some lightly nutty flavors come in at the end. Very refined, indeed. This is a delicate wine that gives a wonderful drinking experience and a nice finish, too.