Posts tagged ‘Santa Barbara County’

Cliffs Wine Picks – Dec 23, 2013 to Dec 26, 2013

 

 

2012 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard

2006 Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra

1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #3

2012 Byron Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

 

 

 

2012 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard – $33.00

This is another of the non Pinot Noir wines Brian Loring has produced.  Thus far, every one has been outstanding.  This one is a Grenache from the Russell Family Vineyard in Paso Robles.

 

This has 14.9% alcohol and is sealed with a twist off closure.

 

Winery history

My name is Brian Loring and my obsession is Pinot Noir.  OK, I’m also pretty crazy about Champagne, but that’s another story.  While in college, I worked at a wine shop in Hollywood (Victor’s), where one of the owners was a Burgundy fanatic.  So, my very first experiences with Pinot Noir were from producers like Domaine Dujac, Henri Jayer, and DRC.  Needless to say, I found subsequent tasting safaris into the domestic Pinot Noir jungle less than satisfying.  It wasn’t until I literally stumbled into Calera (I tripped over a case of their wine in the store room) that I found a California Pinot Noir that I could love.  But it would be quite a while before I found someone else that lived up to the standard that Josh Jensen had established.  I eventually came to understand and enjoy Pinots from Williams Selyem, Chalone, and Sanford, but I really got excited about California Pinot Noir when I met Norm Beko from CottonwoodCanyon at an Orange County Wine Society tasting.

 

I’d made about 3 trips around the booths at the tasting without finding a single good Pinot Noir.  So, being the open minded person that I am (remember I passed him up 3 times), I stopped at the Cottonwood booth.  I was BLOWN away by Norm’s 1990 Santa Maria Pinot Noir.  After a few years of attending every Cottonwood event and asking Norm 10,000 questions about winemaking, he offered to let come learn the process during the ’97 crush.  I checked sugar levels, picked, crushed, punched down, pressed, filled barrels, and generally moved a bunch of stuff around with fork lifts and pallet jacks!  It was the time of my life… I was totally hooked.  And even though I hadn’t planned it, I ended up making two barrels of Pinot Noir.  That was the start of the Loring Wine Company.  What had started out as a dream 15 years earlier was now a reality – I was a winemaker!

 

My Tasting Note

Bright red color with a slight ruby tint.  The comforting nose has cherries, baking spices, white pepper, raspberries, roasted leafy herbs, licorice, and dried flowers.  This has medium body, soft to moderate ripe tannins and good acidity.  On the palate this is rich and lush with juicy cherries, berries and spice up front with raspberries and white pepper kicking in on the back end.  The finish has nice length with roasted herbs adding some complexity.  This is fairly ripe and juicy but with nice acidity holding everything together.  I wouldn’t stash this in the cellar for too long, but it should drink nicely for at least the next 5 years.  (91 pts)

2012 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard

2012 Loring Wine Company Grenache Russell Family Vineyard

 

 

2006 Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra – $37.00

I was working on my list of my top 10 wines of the year and this wine may find a spot on the list.  I remembered I still had a few bottles in the cellar, I decided to open one for Christmas Eve.

 

This wine has 14.5% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.

 

Winery history

In 1990, Roman Bratasiuk embarked on a truly remarkable wine making journey.  His vision: to create single vineyard wines equal to anything in the world.  Quite simply.  Working with old, dry-grown vines and performing every step of the process by hand, Roman sought to redefine the Australian fine wine landscape by solely conveying the imprint a vineyard forges on the varietal expression.  Every year a pragmatic and calculated Clarendon Hills learns a little more about our vineyards and pushes a little further to propel each one of our 100% varietal wines to the pinacle of their capability.

 

Please join Roman and the Clarendon Hills family in celebrating our 19 single vineyard, 100% varietal wines.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, inky, purple color.  The spellbinding nose has charred meat, blackberries, smoke, roasted herbs, blueberries, black pepper, vanilla, licorice, minerals, Asian spices, and dark chocolate.  This has medium to full body, ripe and velvety tannins, and good acidity.  The palate on this wine is out of the world with the berries, roasted herbs, and black pepper slowly giving way to spicy, meaty elements and dark chocolate.  The finish is extremely long and highlights the spice, meat, and roasted herbs.  This is the complete package.  Outstanding!  No hurry on this one, it has years of life ahead of it.  (96 pts)

2006 Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra

2006 Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra

 

 

1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #3 – $23.74

We are BIG fans of nicely aged German Rieslings.  The sugary sweetness these wines show in their youth melds with the citrusy acidity over the years to form a magical elixir that becomes a rich wine with just enough acidity on the back end to leave you grabbing the glass for another sip.

 

This wine has 8.5% alcohol by volume and was sealed with a natural cork.

 

Winery history

As is usual for a lot of the smaller, European wineries, not a lot of information seems to be available on the internet.  I also can’t find anything on CellarTracker for this winery since the 1995 vintage.  This leads me to think it no longer exists.  I can recite Jon Rimmerman’s (from Garagiste Wine) silky prose, but I don’t want this to sound like a sales pitch.  All I will say is, if you like older German Rieslings that have generally been in perfect condition, at really nice prices, check out http://garagiste.com/ and sign up for the list.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright yellow color with a slight golden tint. The rich and inviting nose has apples, white peaches, stony minerals, petrol, white pepper, honey, lime zest, and a touch of pineapple. This has a light to medium body, nice residual sweetness, and good citrus driven acidity to keep it in perfect balance. The finish is very long with the initial sweetness slowly giving way to a nice blast of mouthwatering lemon-lime acidity. At 19 years of age, this still seems to be on the young side. I look forward to enjoying my remaining bottles on the wine’s evolution over the next decade.  (94 pts)

1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #3

1994 Theo Schmitz-Schwaab Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #3

 

 

For Christmas Eve dinner, we made our traditional dinner.  This is a recipe from the New Orleans based “The Gumbo Shop”.  It is called Crawfish and Pasta with Tasso Cream.  It is very rich and slightly spicy from Cayenne Pepper.

Crawfish and Pasta with Tasso Cream Sauce

 

 

 

2012 Byron Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County – $15.38

It has been a few years since I had a bottle of Byron wine.  When I saw this 2012 Pinot Noir on the local store’s shelf for a touch over $15, I decided it was worth a try.

 

The wine has 13.5% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a twist off cap.

 

The Winery

To conserve energy and natural resources, we’ve moved our production to our next door neighbor, Cambria Estate. Within their spacious cellars we’ve been able to reconstruct Byron. We have our own crush pad, our own individual barrel storage rooms and even our prized sorting table. Our focus continues to be high quality, hand-made, small-lot wines from Santa Barbara’s finest vineyards including our Estate Nielson Vineyard.

 

Byron will continue to produce balanced, opulent, and pure wines.

 

More information is available on the winery’s website.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a touch lighter than a medium ruby red color.  The interesting nose has black cherries, raspberries, baking spices, earthy underbrush, white pepper, and violets.  This is barely medium body with soft to moderate tannins and it has good acidity.  On the palate the tart, spicy fruit jumps out first with nice earthiness coming in on the back end.  The finish has decent length with a slight herbal note coming into the picture.  Not a lot of complexity, but it is a very nice, week night Pinot especially if you can grab it for around $15.  (89 pts)

2012 Byron Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

2012 Byron Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

 

 

Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.

 

If you like this post, consider joining Cliffs Wine Picks Wine Blog on Facebook and giving me a Like.

 

Cheers!

 

 

This is original to CliffsWinePicks.com.  Copyright 2013 Cliff’s Wine Picks.

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Cliffs Wine Picks – May 6, 2013 to May 9, 2013

 

 

2009 The Lucky Country Shiraz

2010 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

2011 La Crema Pinot Noir

 

 

2009 The Lucky Country Shiraz – $11.88

 

My comments

The Lucky Country is a smaller project of Michael Twelftree from Two Hands.  This was created to provide a reasonably priced “artisanal” wine to contrast the growing ocean of mass produced “critter wine” coming out of Australia.  In my opinion, Michael achieved his goals.  You can taste the “Two Hands” lineage and upbringing in the bottle.

 

Winery history

The Lucky Country Wines offers quality wines packaged with iconic Australian photography, representing the lively spirit of Australia.

 

The name is taken from the 1964 book, The Lucky Country, written by social critic Donald Horne and was originally written to be ironic, as an indictment of 1960’s Australia.  Donald believed that the economic success of 60’s Australia was derived from luck rather than skill.

 

But over the years, this phrase has taken on new meaning and is now proudly used by many to describe what is great about Australia.

 

The Lucky Country Wines is the result of hard work combined with vision, creative acumen and business ‘smarts’, and maybe just a little bit of luck to help bring it all together.  The wines are already proving a hit, available in several markets around the world and with the brand continuing to grow every day.

 

The Lucky Country Wines were created to deliver great value, stylish wines to drinkers at a reasonable price.  People everywhere can now share and enjoy the experience of what makes Australia the Lucky Country.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly dark ruby to purple color.  The very open and inviting nose has blackberries, licorice, dark chocolate, wild flowers, and a touch of cedar.  This has medium to full body, ripe tannins, and decent acidity.  Loads of sweet up front fruit with dark chocolate and spice coming in on the back end.  The finish has decent length and leaves a sweet, fruity, closing statement.  This is not very complex but a tasty week night easy drinker.  (88 pts)

2009 The Lucky Country Shiraz

 

 

 

2010 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County – $20.28

 

My comments

Au Bon Climat and owner/winemaker Jim Clendenen were two of the original stars in the California Pinot Noir movement in the mid to late 1980s.  Just about every publication that featured wine bestowed well deserved honors and awards on Jim and Au Bon Climat.  The winery now produces over 30,000 cases of wine a year and is still one of the leading produces of “classically styled” wines.

 

Winery history

Founded in 1982, Au Bon Climat (which means “a well-exposed vineyard”) produces internationally-recognized Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc wine from grapes grown in California’s Santa Barbara County.

 

The Au Bon Climat winery is located on the world-famous Bien Nacido Vineyard, and is owned by winemaker Jim Clendenen.  Au Bon Climat was listed on Robert Parker’s Best Wineries of the World in both 1989 and 1990, while Jim Clendenen has been named Winemaker of the Year in 1992 by the Los Angeles Times, and Winemaker of the Year in 2001 by Food and Wine Magazine.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark ruby red color.  The very promising nose has a musky edge to the cherries, and raspberries with warm baking spices, earthy underbrush, meat juices, licorice, and a touch of dark chocolate.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  On the palate the fruit has nice spice up front with a meaty note and earthiness building on the back end.  The finish has very nice length filled with sweet fruit, spice with an earthy, musky edge.  This may not be the most complex Pinot out there, but it is a very nice bottle of wine to upgrade a week night or a casual weekend dinner.  Drink over the next few years.  (90 pts)

2010 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County

 

 

 

2011 La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast- $18.99

 

My comments

We had a couple glasses of this wine a few weeks ago at a local restaurant.  When I saw it on the shelf at the local wines store, I had to grab a couple bottles.  I didn’t take notes on the wine at the restaurant, but I remembered it having nice red fruit and some subtle earthiness.  It will be nice spending a bit of time with a bottle to see how it performs over the course of an evening.

 

Winery history

Winemaking Philosophy

 

For more than 30 years, La Crema has explored California’s coastal appellations, a voyage of varietals that started here at our estate in the foggy vineyards of the RussianRiverValley.  On our journey, we have found exciting cool-climate vineyards north in the rugged hills of Mendocino, and south along the wind-swept slopes of Los Carneros.  Most recently, our exploration has taken us to the wind-swept hillside vineyards of Monterey.  Centered always on the dual lens of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, we look for one unifying factor at these exceptional sites: coastal wind and fog that allow the grapes ripen slowly on the vine, developing intensely complex aromas and flavors while retaining firm acid structure.

 

Naturally, our winemaking team seeks to express the essence of the terroir in our wines, capturing the unique personality and flavor profile of the vineyards.  Elizabeth Grant-Douglas infuses our winemaking regime with a highly personal touch that combines the best of traditional Burgundian winemaking techniques with a contemporary California style.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright red to ruby color.  The very enjoyable nose has cherries, baking spices, strawberry, lilac flowers, and a touch of earthy underbrush.  This has medium body, moderate ripe tannins, and very good acidity.  Spicy red fruit kicks off the palate with more spice and some earthiness coming in afterwards adding depth.  The bright fruit carries no excess weight or overly ripe notes.  The finish has decent length and again highlights the spice laden red fruit.  This very nice week night Pinot Noir offers great QPR if you can find it for under $20.  (89 pts)

2011 La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

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