WITH DOUG MARGERUM
had the recent opportunity to visit with Doug Margerum,
owner of the Wine Cask restaurants (Santa Barbara and
Los Olivos) and the man behind the annual Santa Barbara
Futures wine events. As if that weren't enough, Doug
also makes his own wine. And, as if even that
weren't enough, he makes wine for a few other people,
as well - about 5,000 cases in total. Finally, he's
a damn fine chef in his own right.
we really lucked out and Doug combined both of these
talents into one visit - barrel tasting AND lunch! Doug
makes his wines at two separate locations - for now,
at least. The reds are made back behind Curtis winery
on Foxen Cyn Rd., and the whites are made at Fred Brander's
winery, a few miles away in Los Olivos.
up was a trio of wines that will go into a high-end blend
($50) called "Ten Goal." Named after the perceived
pinnacle of skills for a polo player, this wine will be
under the Barrack label, the owners of Happy Canyon Vineyard.
Barrack Happy Canyon Vineyard Merlot
- thick on the palate, with nicely ripened black cherry,
black raspberry and plum. Really chewy in the mid-palate,
with a nice smooth finish.
Happy Canyon Vineyard Cabernet Franc - lots of
fruit throughout, with a nice herbed touch on the front
end, and smooth long finish.
Happy Canyon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - whatever
you think you've heard about SYV Cabs, forget it. This is
nicely ripened (not the least bit overripe) cassis and dark
cherry fruit, with a lovely balance and long finish.
Happy Canyon Vineyard (blend of above wines) - Doug
did a little 3-into-1 blend here, using the 40% Merlot,
20% Cab Franc and 40% Cab. Although I didn't pick up anything
particularly spicy in either of the previous three wines,
the spice really jumped out on this blend. Nice and meaty
in mouthfeel, with great balance, terrific and a delicious
clove scent to the dark fruit.
Happy Canyon Vineyard "Piocho" - loaded
with spicy dark fruit and a waft of herbs, this mostly Cab
Franc blend delivers a lot of flavorful fruit on the front
end, mellowing out nicely through the long finish.
Happy Canyon Vineyard "Chukker" - based
on another polo term for period of play, this was an interesting
"why did they do that" kind of wine. Well,
the answer was: because Doug wanted to experiment a bit.
This Nouveau-style Cab Franc is a fermented blend of whole
berry and whole cluster fruit. No oak, the wine has an almost
piercing purity of fruit in the nose, bright mouthfeel,
chewy and very long finish.
Margerum Vogelzang Syrah
- this is one of the warmer vineyards in SYV, and this Syrah
is a bit more ripe and tarry in style. Delicious rich flavors
in the mouth, but also a bit monolithic, and in want of
some higher and lower notes.
Margerum Black Oak Syrah - from a young
vnyd on Alisos Cyn in the Los Alamos area of SBC, this spicy
and hi-toned wine has gobs of fruit, and a lot of chew at
the mid-palate. Very nice!
Margerum Alondra del los Prados Syrah
- from a two acre vnyd in the SYV, this wine has rich, tarry
and roasted flavors, excellent balance, and a delicious
long finish. Seems very complete, with beautiful flavors
over the whole bandwidth. Co-fermented with a small % of
Margerum Colson Syrah - from a vnyd in
SMV, or more specifically - find Byron winery and just keep
going on back into the canyon. Fascinating nose of light
tar, roasted grains, with minerals galore. Very nice balance
throughout. Terrific stuff!
Margerum Purisima Mtn Syrah - from Steve
Beckmen's vnyd on Ballard Cyn Rd, this is a nice rendition,
with lots of big dark berry, huge mouthfeel, and superb
here, we stopped the Red show to go over to Brander and
taste some of Doug's whites from barrel.
Margerum Alisos Pinot Gris
- juicy and mouthwatering, with nice stone fruit flavors,
and beautiful balance.
Margerum Westerly Sauvignon Blanc - tropical
aromas and flavor, touch of mineral, very nice balance and
crisp long finish.
Margerum Purisima Mtn Sauvignon Blanc
- light tropical aromas and flavors - slightly lighter than
the Westerly, but more to the pink grapefruit rind, with
lovely balance and finish.
Margerum Vogelzang Sauvignon Blanc - round,
more acids and crispness, great balance and finish. My fav
of the three.
Margerum Grenache Rose - meaty in scent and flavor,
with a light floral quality, terrific balance and finish.
Margerum Late Harvest Reisling - amazingly
smooth throughout, with notes of pear and a bit of apricot.
Margerum Very Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Purisima
Mtn - well, this was one dessert of a wine. Rich
and sweet, and...well, what a delicious end to the tasting.
Brander, it was back to Doug's place on Foxen Cyn Rd
for a little lunch. I figured sandwiches, but Doug had
something else in mind. He fired up the BBQ, and out
of the fridge comes this tri-tip. Then he set about
making a salad, and a morel and white bean cassoulet!
Now this is lunch!
over to the rack and pick out a bottle, Doug says. What
about the Chave stuff, I asked, trying to casually
mispronounce it. Sure...get the '01. Now, this wasn't
going to be nearly ready to drink - Doug knew
it, I knew it...hell, we all knew it. But, wine is for
moments like these, and Doug knew that too.
winemakers, and wine. We had a blast. Thanks a million
for your time and generousity, Doug. Oh, and damn fine
now this is probably going to sound like a shaggy-brag story,
but it really happened, and I thought it was pretty cool,
so I just wanted to share a few notes.
Selman and I were in up in Napa Valley to cover the auction,
and had some free time Thursday morning. Says I: What
do you think we should do this morning? Says he: Well,
you want to go over to Colgin and taste some Aubert and
Colgin? "Duh! Let me find my keys!"
a view of Lake Hennessey, the Colgin property sits nestled
in some really magnificent surroundings. The presence of
the Lake creates a significantly different diurnal flow,
giving this area a wider range in temperatures than the
absolutely spotless winery is cleverly housed in a round
building. Tank hatches peek through stainless grating arranged
in a semi-circle on the top floor sorting room. Mark Aubert
points out the sorting table, and ask us to imagine it like
the hand of a clock, able to move effortlessly from one
tank to another. On the lower level are specially built
dual-jacketed Mueller SS tanks, each capable of running
hot or cold glycol concurrently. What a beautiful facility.
Did I mention that it was spotless?
a look at the wine library and the Colgin cellar: well,
how about some wine, says Mark Aubert. Were
right behind you.
Aubert Chardonnay Quarry Vnyd, Sonoma County.
(Hyde clone, from a steep south-facing vineyard (up to 40
degree slopes) that Mark planted while at Peter Michael.
The 05 will be the last vintage of this bottling,
as Peter Michael will be keeping the fruit.) The nose is
a huge blast of juicy and lightly smoky pear and tropical
notes (it got full ML), with touches of minerals, sweet
lemon and toast. Very rich mouthfeel of pear, baked apple
and tropical flavors, with perceptable minerality and excellent
balance throughout, and very long seamless finish.
Aubert Pinot Noir UV Vnyd, Sonoma County. (Calera
clone, from a small vineyard off Laguna Road next to Kistler.
UV is a reference to vnyd owner Ulysses Valdez.
Very sensuous and seductive nose of mixed dark fruits, with
an intriguing spicy core, and underlying note of something
lightly feral. Gorgeous mouthfeel, this is just filled with
seamless fruit from beginning to end. Excellent balance,
the juicy acids continue to trickle through the very long
clove-infused fine-grained finish.
Colgin Red Wine IX Estate. Now in its 3rd vintage,
this Bordeaux blend has progressed from about 85% Cabernet
to the current 60% Cabernet, 22% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc,
and 5% Petite Verdot. The IX represents the
parcel number of the property. Nose of dark cherry, cassis,
truffles, and clove, with an fascinating light gamey streak.
Very dark, dense and juicy in mouthfeel, remarkably smooth
textures and fine-grained tannins last through the very
long finish. As soon as I put this into my mouth, I recall
hearing a Borg voice in my head,
futile; you will assimilate this wine. What a knockout!
Colgin Syrah IX Estate. Very dark in color, with
a lovely nose of dried and fresh meats (Mark suggested charcuterie,
which seemed quite apt), with lots of floral accents (I
picked up gardenia and rose, Jay found lavender, and Allison
thought violets). Very rich mouthfeel, lots of dark chewy
fruit, beautiful textures, and again excellent balance
through the very long finish.
definite quadruple Wow! visit.