Showing posts with label botrytis cinerea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label botrytis cinerea. Show all posts

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. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010



My wife loves her sweets.  Well, yes, that does include me.  She also loves dessert wines, and has a history of selecting them for us with an uncanny knack for choosing some very high-quality sweet wines.

The Mer Soleil LATE came in a shipment of Monterey County dessert wines for review - her eyes lit up when we opened that box - and, like the others in the crate, it did not disappoint.

LATE is a late harvest Viognier from Santa Lucia, kissed by a favorite fungus fans of dessert wine are fond of - Botrytis cinerea.  The Noble Rot, as it is sometimes called, affects grapes on the vine, and those grapes produce wines that are sweet.

The color grabs your attention right away, and I love when a wine does that.  The color is an extremely rich gold, vibrant and beautiful.  Aromas of  honeyed apricots make a lovely nose, which are also in abundance on the palate.  An orange zest profile reveals itself in the flavors, too, but in a secondary role to the apricots and honey.  The wine is sweet, but does not cloy; the sweetness is bold and lively.  The finish lingers as if it's trying to stick around until the next sip is taken.  The alcohol content is only 10.5% abv, but the acidity is almost high enough to be called bracing. 

The Mer Soleil winery also grows Meyer lemon trees on their property, figuring if the grapes get damaged by frost, the lemons would probably be OK and they could at least harvest something.  The lemons are a welcome addition to their income, I'm sure, but it's nice to know they haven't had to resort to a lemon wine.  I'll take the late harvest Viognier any day.