Au Bon Climat -
In the ABC lineup, the '01 Knox Pinot
was my favorite, with the '00 Hildegard Pinot not far behind.
The wines here seemed a little atypical - at least in terms of varietal
leanings. I tried a '02 Syrah Rose (astringent), '01 Syrah (smelled
like a Pinot), '00 Cab Franc, '00 Merlot (interesting dose of jalapeno
pepper in the nose), and '00 Cab Sauv (peppery mouthfeel). I keep
trying these folks, expecting a break-through.
Pepe Estate -
Another nice set of wines here from vigneron Wes Hagen. The two
'02 Chardonnay (stainless steel fermented), and the '01Chard (barrel
fermented) were both delicious. The two Pinots were also
excellent: the '02 Estate, and the '01 Vingeron Select. The VS had
a lot more earthy notes, and more viscosity to boot.
Both Cold Heaven wines ('02 Viognier,'01
Pinot Noir) were very good-excellent, with the Viognier (Sanford
& Benedict Vnyd) being a nice surprise. Probably the best Cold
Heaven wines I've had.
Goat Cellars -
Norm Yost is on a roll. As winemaker for Foley Winery he produced
some very nice wines. But, I especially like what he is doing with
his own label, Flying Goat. The '02s poured here were excellent.
The Santa Maria Valley was intense and concentrated, with lots of
candied cherry aromas and flavors. But, the Dierberg was just gorgeous,
with layers of earth and fruit.
Pouring an '01 Pinot from Santa Maria Valley, and an '00 Merlot
from La Cuesta. A good Pinot was expected, but the very tasty Merlot
was a nice surprise. Foley will be growing and producing Santa Rita
Hills Pinot from its new Estate vineyards, just east of Melville.
Meanwhile, Merlot and any other Bordeaux varietal will continue
to come from its La Cuesta Vnyd.
Proprietor, Dick Dore was pouring four wines. The '00 Bien Nacido
Pinot seemed to be showing a little age, which was surprising. The
'00 SBC Syrah was good, but the '01 Morehouse Syrah was much better
- just loaded with spice, clove and floral notes. The final wine
was a Bordeaux blend of 70% Merlot, 30% Cab Franc called "Foothills
Ranch." Very chewy and rich on the palate, this is a wine to
Gray Hartley was pouring four of the HP wines: '01 Bien Nacido Pinot
(very good), '01 Highliner Pinot (even better), '01 Generation Red
(a rotating blend that in '01 included Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, and
Syrah), and the '01 Syrah (nice minty streak). My favorite here
was the Highliner.
General Manager Dave Yates was pouring five wines today: the '01
Stolpman Grenache (very nice; lots of raspberry); the '01 SBC Syrah
(sweet and succulent, floral); the '01 Thompson Syrah (lots of pepper,
bittersweet chocolate); the '01 Bien Nacido Syrah (slightly floral,
very smooth); and the '01 Melville Syrah (dark berry, light herbs
and floral notes). Craig Jaffurs just keeps knocking out excellent
Syrahs year after year.
New winemaker Michael Roth was pouring four wines: '01 Monterey
County Pinot (quite nice, from 35 yr.old vines); '01 Bien Nacido
Pinot (nice floral nose); '01 Syrah (very nice); and '00 Cabernet
(very nice as well). The wines are all well made, and despite the
revolving winemaker situation (including Kris Curran), continue
to be nice. Hopefully, Roth will stay longer than the last couple
of winemakers - at least long enough to establish a legacy.
Pouring a bunch of their wines, but getting to the table - which
was tucked into a corner, proved to be too much. Managed to try
an '01 Pinot that was surprisingly Syrah-like in intensity and flavor.
It was a very tasty Pinot -even if on steroids.
Pouring one Chard and three Pinots, Ron Melville must be proud.
In four short years, the Melville name has become well known for
both Pinot and Syrah. Ron was pouring was pouring: '02 Chardonnay
(beautiful floral and sweet grapefruit); '02 Estate Pinot (very
nice balance, off-sweet taste); the '02 "Terraces" Pinot
(spicy dark cherry and clove); and the '02 "Carrie's"
Bob Lindquist was pouring five wines - three of them white, which
was okay with me. The '02 Bien Nacido Cuvee is a delicious blend
of Chard and Viognier (seems blasphemous - but it's delicious);
a very nice '01 Bien Nacido Chardonnay; and an '01 Roussanne from
the Alban Vnyd (toasty and crisp). Also poured the '02 Cental Coast
Syrah (very floral and fruit-driven); and the '01 Los Olivos Cuvee
(mostly Syrah, with lesser amounts of Mourvedre and Grenache) which
had a fascinatingly musky nose.
General manager Tom Prendiville was pouring both the current Pinot
releases: the '01 Sanford and Benedict and the '01 La Rinconada.
The S&B leans a little more toward bing cherry and forest floor,
while the La Rinconada was plusher and sweeter with more dark fruit.
Peter Hunken was pouring three wines: '02 Rosato (nice and fleshy);
the '01 Rhone Ridge (a GSM blend) which was quite big and chewy;
and the '01 Sangiovese (nice balance, spiced cherry flavors). Pity
they didn't bring along the Angeli, La Croce, or L'Avion.
I've been interested in trying some of these wines, given their
affiliation with the Fiddlestix Vineyard (Fiddlehead's Kathy Joseph
went into partnership with Beringer Blass on the vineyard - (Taz
is named after winegrower Bob "Taz" Steinhauer of Beringer;
the wines are made by Jon Priest in Santa Maria). Considering the
price points ($15-25), these are terrific wines. The '02 Pinot (90%
Fiddlestix Vnyd) was juicy very well-balanced and tasty. The '01
Merlot came from a north-south canyon up near Byron, and wes delicious
as well. The '01 Syrah was loaded with dark fruit and chocolate.
Still one the best kept secrets in the Santa Ynez Valley, ZM is
continuing to fine tune their lineup. The '01 Chardonnay was loaded
with chewy tropical fruit. The '02 Viognier (SS fermented) was beautiful.
The '01 'Z Cuvee' is the best yet, with lots of fruit, and interesting
floral-feral scents. The '01 Syrah has lots of tar and anise accents
- dare I say, it smells French. The '01 Bear Block Syrah was smooth