Crushpad, which has just moved to a new, bigger place on 3rd Street in San Francisco, is now hosting a series of wine tasting events every other Thursday. The tasting kick-off event happened last Thursday with 6 wines from Santa Barbara County.
Who has not heard of Santa Barbara wine country? Remember, it's that Pinot Noir place where it is forbidden to talk about Merlot! Actually, Santa Barbara is much more than just Pinot Noir country. With three main appellations, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Santa Rita Hills, and many microclimates, Santa Barbara produces a wide range of wines from cool climate varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as from Rhone varieties including Syrah, Grenache, and Viognier.
Here are the wines that we tasted that evening:
• 2006 Ojai Sauvignon Blanc Westerly Vineyard Santa Barbara County: from The Ojai Vineyard, a winery renowned for its Syrah, Rhone Varietals, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from premium vineyards on California's Central Coast. Ojai buys its grapes by the acre rather than by the ton and therefore, pushes for low yield crops in order to produce wines of high intensity. My notes: pale yellow color, vivid aromas of grapefruit and pineapple on the nose. On the palate, full-bodied, fat, and crisp with some bitterness on the finish. The wine was far too intense for me, my preference being a lighter, fresher style of Sauvignon Blanc.
• 2005 Babcock Chardonnay Rita's Earth Cuvee Santa Rita Hills: from Babcock Winery, a small winery in the Santa Rita Hills featuring estate-grown fruit as well as grapes from local vineyards. The Rita's Earth cuvee is a blend of Estate Chardonnay with fruit from the Sanford & Benedict vineyard and Gainey's Evans Ranch vineyard. My notes: medium golden color, attractive nose of ripe stone fruit. On the palate, seemed high in alcohol (14.5%), long finish.
• 2005 Barrel 27 Viognier Santa Barbara County: from Barrel 27 Wine Company, the creation of two winemakers committed to producing premium Rhone varietal wines at fair prices, and according to their website, for hardworking people. Their Viognier is made with fruit from the Bien Nacido and Camp 4 Vineyards. My notes: pale yellow color, aromatic floral nose of orange blossom, full-bodied palate with tropical fruit flavors, high alcohol content (15%). Overall, the wine had too much extraction for me, I prefer more freshness and finesse.
• 2005 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Clark & Telephone Vineyard Santa Maria Valley: from Belle Glos Wines, a Pinot Noir producer founded by Napa winemaker Chuck Wagner of Caymus Vineyards, favoring low yields and intense flavors. My notes: deep garnet color, candied fruit nose, full-bodied palate, herbaceous flavors on the finish. Quite a rich style of Pinot.
• 2005 San Sakana Syrah White Hawk Vineyard Santa Barbara County: from San Sakana Cellars, a boutique winery founded by Bettina Briz, her husband Peter, and her best friend Leslie. San Sakana means three fish in Japanese and is a reference to the three founders. San Sakana is currently hosted by Crushpad where the wine is made. The White Hawk Vineyard Syrah was vinified using 25% whole cluster to include some stems in the extraction, and was aged in 100% neutral French oak. My notes: dark purple color, nose of sweet berries with peppery notes. On the palate, full-bodied, rich and seductive, definitively my favorite wine of the evening.
• 2005 Ojai Syrah Santa Barbara County: another wine from the Ojai Vineyard. The Santa Barbara County Syrah is a blend of various fruit from the county with some Grenache (3%) and Mourvèdre (0.5%) to give an aromatic lift. My notes: deep purple color, quite shy on the nose but big on the palate, tannic, peppery with an herbal finish.
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