Cal-Italians

Thoughts on recent visits to Palmina and Mosby




Palmina

Founded by Steve Clifton in 1995 based on a rather  holistic belief of what the role  wine, and in particular Italianate wine, was in one's life. Based out of the Lompoc wine ghetto, Steve, along with wife Crystal, who joined Palmina in 2000, have continued to be champions not only of the Italian outlook as it regards winemaking and the enjoyment of wine but have become arguably the most ardent proponents of Nebbiolo in the USA.

The Palmina wines are produced using varieties that tend to have their origins in Northern Italy, though Sangiovese is part of the portfolio. Steve and Crystal feel that the climate of Santa Barbara, with warm days and cool nights, is well suited for these varieties and their intention of creating food wines. To that end they use indigenous yeasts for all their wines and insist on working as cleanly as possible, this offering the purest expression of what these grape varieties and Santa Barbara has to offer.


2012 Palmina Pinot Grigio 12.5% $18

Tart apple fruit and some leesy, smoky character on the nose along with some powdery minerality. Bright and tart on entry with a fine blend of lemon, pear and green apple fruit that really carries powerfully through the long acid driven finish. This has some attractive richness on the mid-palate but never loses its vibrancy and cut. Finishes with a light herbal nuance adding detail. long pear skin note on the finish. 90pts

2012 Palmina Tocai Friulano Honea Vineyard 12% $22

A little flinty on the nose with suggestions of honeycomb, crab apple, dried polleny flowers and a hint of almond over bright,mineral notes. Moderately rich and bright on entry with really fine supporting acids in a style that is just a bit lean, perhaps vintage related, though this delivers nice citrus pith and almost honey flavors on the palate with a candied orange nuance on the backend that leads to a really fine, long mineral, citrus pith, and vaguely herbal finish. 89pts

2011 Palmina Arneis Honea vineyard 13.5% $20

Fermented in SS and neutral oak then blended

Floral, mineral and spicy on the nose with balsamic notes that are a bit peppery and dominating, out of place even though this does smell rather seaside-like.  Bright, fresh and precision on entry then turning a bit rounder on the mid-palate with modest mineral tinged apple and white fruit flavors that have an attractive perfume in the mouth but are only moderately intense, with a short, low scaled finish that shows some astringency. 86pts

2011 Palmina Malvasia Bianca 12% $26

Intensely floral with perfumes of oranges, lychee and mineral base notes with lots grapefruit and sweet herb character. Bright, precise and focused in the mouth with a narrow band of almost delicate floral, citrus and mineral flavors that gain height on the back of the palate before segueing into a very tense, very mineral long zesty finish. 88pts

2012 Palmina Botasea Rose 11.5%


45% Dolcetto, 45% Nebbiolo, 10% Barbera

Rather fruity watermelon, cherry and dusty rose/bay leaf nose. A touch fizzy on entry and bright with intense acids, broad on the palate if a little low, with easy mineral raspberry and watermelon flavors that lead to a modest slightly mineral finish. A nice firm little rose. 85pts

2011 Palmina Dolcetto 13.5% $20

Spicy and a bit stemmy with hints of licorice, wood spice and dark berry fruit that shows a little mineral brightness and blue fruit highlights. Attractively light bodied and zesty with clear, fresh balsamic tinged wild berry fruit on the palate that carries just a touch of extra tannin at this stage. Nicely perfumed in the mouth, with a lovely flavor profile but there is just a whisper of extra tannin today that makes me want some fat with this. Fun wine. 87pts

2010 Palmina Alisos 13.5% $30

7% Sangiovese passito, 73% Sangiovese 20% merlot

Gorgeous nose full of herb tinged, bay leaf and vanilla laced red berry fruit with hints of barrel spice, and sweet, tarry root beer. Relaxed in the mouth, though  with fine acidity and polished ripe tannins that retain just a hint of astringency supporting very clear red cherry, raspberry and tart cranberry flavors that have a fine green balsamic edge to them and flesh out with a touch of spice on the backend leading to a long, clear finish that shows a darker fruit profile with a suggestion of plumminess. There's a ton of acidity here and yet the wine tries for a bit of a sweet tart thing in the mouth, succulent.  91pts

2009 Palmina Undici Sangiovese 14.9% $36

Mineral and tight on the nose with mint framed wild cherry and astringent red fruit aromas,with a little teriyaki on the nose. Rich on entry with slightly astringent tannins that stick out of the fruit here. There's a nice strawberry undertone here but this is sort of broad shouldered and short today with a sweetness that is battling the structure here, lacks some detail, will it gain it in the future? 86pts

2010 Palmina Barbera Walker 14.9% $36

A bit marked by wood on the nose,black cherry, savory natural yeast elements adding detail and complexity, along with a superfine leather edge. This opens with big fruit that's wonderfully fresh with vibrant acids that are very well integrated. There’s  lots of cherry skin fruit with underlying wood spice adding some depth in the mouth, and a lovely black plum note, along with hints of sweet licorice and leather on the back end. This finishes up with a super blend of ripe fruit flavors, gorgeous purity of fruit, and a very fresh texture, lively and vivid. 91pts

Nebbiolo

Palmina is perhaps best known for their Nebbiolo, and if that is true then the Nebbiolo they must be most well know for is the Santa Barbara County bottling. It’s a wine I’ve had with some frequency and while I always enjoyed it there have been some Palmina Nabbiolos that have stood out as significantly more attention grabbing in the past. No doubt those were the single vineyards wines, of which I was fortunate to try several on this day. Just as it holds true in Piedmont, the blend of clone and soil has a profound effect on these Nebbiolos. It’s worth noting the breakdown for each vineyard here.

Stopman Lampia planted on limestone

Sisquoc Michet planted on real compact sand over sandy loam

Honea Michet planted on a limestone vein

Alisos Michet and lampi planted in shale soils

2007 Palmina Santa Barbara County Nebbiolo 14.9% $30

Sisquoc and Stolpman Vineyards

Roses and a hint of terpene top sandy soil tones on the nose hear, joined with a touch of bookbinders glue and minty, green herbal overtone over wild cherry and lingonberry fruit. This is only modestly tannic, though the tannins are dry and refreshingly austere supporting clear, savory and earthy wild cherry fruit that shows just a hint of candied strawberry before gaining some licorice on the moderately long finish which shows exposed acid and tannin on the finale, along with some sneaky persistence to the amarena cherry fruit. 88pts

2007 Palmina Stolpman Nebbiolo 14.9% $40

Old wood greets the nose along with lots of bay leaf infused wild cherry, rose petal and alum scented Nebbiolo fruit that gains a carob and medicinal herb note. This is chalky and just a bit spicy on the nose with an enticing edginess. Powerful and bright on entry with tense transparent fruit, the mid-palate reveals this to be a bit of a fruity style of Nebbiolo but one that is firmly and impressively structured with deep earth tinged wild raspberry and wild cherry flavors that gain some complexity in the mouth from a subtle hint of vanilla and dried herb notes that turn towards fennel on the long, bright clear finish. Powerful, deep and just showing a hint of herb on the long finish. 92pts

2007 Palmina Sisquoc Nebbiolo 14.9% $50

Throwing significant sediment already, this is evolved on the nose, showing sweet caramelly overtones, rather earthy, with clay spice on the nose and sweet mint accents to the slightly roasted astringent red fruits. This opens with rather soft tannins in the mouth along with bright acids that accentuate the bright red berry fruit. With tannins that build gently on the palate, this has a bit of softness that's a bit perhaps more Barbaresco like than the other wines with a tight, dusty, fine rose petal and raspberry finish. A bit chunky and less detailed than the Stolpman with higher acids. 90pts

2007 Palmina Honea Nebbiolo 14.9% $70

A bit of liquory plum fruit gains gentle hints of mint, grilled meat, and soil on the high toned youthful nose that leads to a huge upwelling of tar, Broad on the palate with ripe almost polished tannins, this is tense,youthful and a bit chewy in the mouth with beautifully framed cherry and raspberry fruit that shows incipient tobacco notes. The backend shows super fine tannins and then the wine explodes on the finish filling the mouth with rose petals, slightly purple and youthful berry fruit and cranberry fruit all draped over intense mineral soil notes, a bit chewy. 93pts

2007 Palmina Alisos Nebbiolo 15% $90

Intense on the nose, all tarry and filled with the scents of  medicinal herbs, lardo,  minty spice, and sweet, gummi red fruits. Super elegant on entry, this is nonetheless dense, concentrated and folded in on itself with slow to emerge inner mouth perfumes of mint wrapped plum and wild cherry and tar flavors all supported by finely ripe tannins and integrated if cutting acids. The finish is powerful, dense and long with fine dry, earthy wild cherry flavor framed by hints of tree bark, medicinal herbs,and lardo. There is gorgeous fruit here, chewy and kind of massive, a little Monforte like qualities here. 94pts

2005 Palmina Honea Nebbiolo 14.5%

Quite floral and meaty with a bresaola and lardo edge to the nutty framed wild berry fruit with smoked bacon notes on the nose. Meatier and perhaps a bit oakier than the 2007 with a hickory nut accent, this is ripe and a bit soft on entry with a slightly roasted quality to the fruit. The tannins are all front loaded here making this  just a touch disjointed with a bit of the mid-palate falling out then returning on the slightly lean tannic and modest finish. This is a bit chunky and inelegant. 87pts

2003 Palmina Sisquoc Nebbiolo 15.5%

Hightoned old Barolo-like nose full of parchment, bitter greens, sandy/chalky soil, smoke and spice, and a bit of oak nuttiness here rounding out the nose. This is broad and full bodied and retaining a ton of sweet fruit on the palate with lots of firm tannins still in place,a nice hint of mineral and sweet choco/licorice on the backend along with suggestions of tea and carob leading to a slightly oxidatively sweet finish with lots of cocoa accents over the rich if short wild berry/astringent berry fruit. There’s a lot of wine here but it’s just a bit aloof. I wish I had more time to spend with it because it was not showing the best integration or balance but I bet some air would have righted this ship. 90pts


2010 Palmina Sisquoc Lumina 12.5% $48

Sparkling Nebbiolo

A gently leesy nose shows fine strawberry edged savory/sweet brown sugar tinged graham cracker laced fruit. Exhibiting a very fine mousse and  gentle sweetness cut by  refreshing acids, this offers up an early hint of hazelnut followed by nice raspberry fruit with a hint offended and pollen on the palate that lingers through the slightly autolytic finish. This smells a bit like a strawberry pop tart,in a good way, and is clean, crisp and refreshing on the palate.  89pts


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Comments

  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 737

    I remember fondly 25 to 30 years ago, my tasting of the wines in the Santa Barbara area. It seemed that there were many winners among the vintners and varietals at that time. I remember a big, dark Cabernet from the Tepusquet vineyard and fantastic Rieslings from Zaca Mesa and Firestone. Zaca and Firestone also made a late harvest Riesling that was super. Both Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc were successful then and still are today. Chardonnays from this area have long been good. The name Byron comes to mind. I have tasted some outstanding Merlot from this region as well. Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez seems to be able to do well with nearly all grape types. I'm a fan.

    Aug 15, 2013 at 4:40 PM


  • You should try Rusack Chardonnay and Melville Sirah or Chardonnay! Amazing! Also, Sunstone's Soleil Blanc. All from the St. Ynez region!

    Aug 15, 2013 at 5:30 PM


  • Snooth User: Gordoben
    1328401 136

    All this talk of Santa Ynez valley brings back many fond memories - have now spent three short breaks cycling around the area introducing a few mates from Australia to the diversity of wines available. Working hard in the mornings on the bike, tasing our way back to Los Olivos or Solvang in the afternoons. I endorse the recommendation of Rusack chardy and wines of the Zaca Mesa. The article didn't mention exactly where Mosby is located... can't recall coming across this one.

    Aug 15, 2013 at 8:55 PM


  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 737

    Just when I thought the Santa Ynez wineries were not experimenting anymore, I came across Roblar Winery. Their wines are either a real winner or a real miss. I just tried a Chardonnay that was a disaster, while the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc at 14.9% Alc was obviously late harvested and delicious. Not many 14.9% Alc Sauvignon Blancs out there, so this was experimental in my book. Their 2010 Semillon was excellent upon release. I like these guys!

    Aug 17, 2013 at 3:37 PM


  • Snooth User: silverwines
    Hand of Snooth
    160251 35

    The Santa Barbara Co Cal-Itals will gain significantly in the market & the press in the next few years mainly with small producer Sangiovese based blends. New plantings, better clonal selections & strict yield control have helped a lot. Having Bordelaise varieties around for blending, grown in some of the same vineyards helps too!

    Aug 21, 2013 at 6:44 PM


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