Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Winehound's annual European import tasting

Who says Santa Barbara is always provincial about its wine? On July 20th, while The Chardonnay Symposium and Bacon & Barrels were in full swing to the north, the Winehound in Santa Barbara featured its annual import tasting. Held at the SoHo nightclub, it featured a vast selection of Spanish, French and Italian wines. There were some heavy hitters, but this was also highlighted by a nice selection of good value wines in the $15-30 range featuring regions throughout Spain, France and Italy. Featured importers included Martin Scott Wines, Eric Solomon Imports and Bedford International, among others.

I posted a full list of tasting notes on Cellartracker, but a few quick highlights included the 2010 Château de Puligny-Montrachet Puligny-Montrachet for its earthy bright citrus fruit and nice richness and structure; the 2012 AziendaAgricola Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore for its silky forward white floral fruit and massive structure; the 2010 Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape for its layers of complex floral, earthy mineral and cherry flavors; and the 2009 Hacienda Monasterio Ribera del Duero Crianza for its wonderful depth, structure, and notes of cherry, leather, tea and spice.

It was tough missing the events that day in Santa Barbara Wine Country, but I enjoyed catching up with some great wines from the old world!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

New direction

After a year and a half sabbatical from full-time employment in the wine industry, ironically due to a cross country move to a wine producing area, I'm happy to say that my career path is once again clear. I've taken a California Regional Manager position with Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards here in Santa Barbara County. 

I'm not sure what I want to do with the blog going forward. I'll add content that I feel good about and have time to write (time being the key factor), but the writing I'm sure will take a different approach. If you've checked in and read my posts over the past two years- thank you! I hope to see you out in wine country sometime soon!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Complex summer whites

When I think of summer whites, I tend to think of light and refreshing quaffers. Summer's a carefree time of year, and al fresco picnics, summer barbecue, or hanging out by the pool isn't always the time to sit and think about your wine. But if you are looking for something with a little more complexity and versatility, I've had two wines recently that can work in either direction.

Dirty & Rowdy Family Wines 2012 Skin and Concrete Fermented Semillon, Yountville, Napa Valley is 2nd release of this skin-macerated 100% Semillon. It's a little less viscous than the inaugural release, but still has that wonderful complexity, tannic structure, and acid backbone that I liked in the 2011. It's a cloudy bright gold color with perfumy aromas of lemon and orange zest, savory spice, earth, and frommage. The palate is bright, adding mineral depth to compliment the melange of flavors. There's a nice rich feel and presence on the palate, gaining a slight bitterness and salinity on the finish that adds a nice dimension. This would be great with brie, or a citrusy halibut.

A visit to the Brander Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley was a nice refresher on their wonderful lineup of Sauvignon Blanc. The Brander 2011 Estate Sauvignon Blanc au Naturel, Santa Ynez Valley is notable for its 24 hours of skin contact during fermentation, giving the wine added complexity and depth before finishing fermentation and aging in stainless steel. The bright grapefruit and gooseberry is there, but is balanced by layered notes of dried herb, lavender and hints of spice. This is a great California Sauvignon Blanc. I'd like this with a grilled barbecue chicken and a summer salad.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wine events flocking to Santa Barbara... and good inexpensive Pinot Noir

Holy Goleta! The wine events are rolling into Santa Barbara County in 2014.

This month, it's been announced that the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference will be held July 11-13 in the Santa Ynez Valley. I've attended two Wine Bloggers Conferences, and if there's a strength to the event, it's in its showcasing of compelling wine regions. With Santa Barbara's unique east-west traversing valley and variety of terroirs, it's going to be a great insider's view of the region for wine bloggers. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to delve deeper and to learn even more about my "home" wine region.

Also, the 2014 World Of Pinot Noir event is moving from Pismo Beach to the illustrious Bacara Resort in Goleta. This is a premier event for a premier varietal, featuring seminars and tastings of Pinot Noir from around the world. Maybe not so coincidentally, 2014 is the 10 year anniversary of the Sideways film...

If you're on the Central Coast and looking for a wine event this summer, Santa Maria Valley's annual Chardonnay Symposium happens July 19-21. In its fourth year, the event brings over 50 California Chardonnay producers together to enlighten and educate on the variety and quality of Chardonnay being produced throughout the state. Educational panels, celebrity chef events, wine dinners, and a grand tasting will all commence.


If you need an inexpensive, simple, and most importantly, good Pinot Noir for summer barbecues, hanging out by the pool, or sitting in your sweat box - 24 Knots is a Pinot Noir brand producing a balanced and lively inexpensive Pinot Noir from Monterey. The 24 Knots Pinot Noir, Monterey is notable for its fig, earth, pine needle and spice; along with nicely integrated flavors and good texture, acid, grip and presence for its price point. Serve it with a slight chill. It's around $16 and shouldn't be too hard to find. (I received this as a press sample from the winery)