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Snooth User: wwalker1013

Giving Snooth a Chance

Posted by wwalker1013, Jan 23, 2012.

Hi All,

I've been a sideline observer of Snooth for a couple years and thought I'd join the party.  I'm a huge Central Coast fan, unfortunately located in Pittsburgh, PA.  I've made a few tasting trips out west and another is planned for April.  If you're planning a trip to Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, or anywhere in between, feel free to shoot me an email for recommendations and/or cautions!  Or if you're in Pittsburgh, let's get together!

Here's the short list of recommended Central Coast spots:


Bella Luna
Chateau Margene
Fratelli Perata
Grey Wolf
Tablas Creek
Zin Alley
Zaca Mesa
Phantom Rivers
Sans Liege



Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 23, 2012.

Welcome to Snooth!


What a great list of Pinots. Living in the Burgh do you find it challenging to get ahold of all of those?

Reply by wwalker1013, Jan 23, 2012.


Being a PA resident has its +/-, with the lack of direct access to wineries being the mega-minus.  I've found a few wineries bold enough to buck the state and follow federal law, but they're few and far between.  I've actually found an online store willing to ship direct and their selection of CA wines is more than my liver can handle.  Otherwise I ship to friends in Ohio.

I do like a good Pinot (Chamisal Califa, Laetitia Les Galets, for example) but I love many of these for their syrah's and other Rhone blends.  Bella Luna and Fratelli Perata create wonderful, small-lot, Italian blends, and Hansen Vineyards is my wine-crush for elegent, craft-cab's.  I've had a hard time following the enthusiasm for Napa, but rediscovered cab in the Hansen tasting room.  Very much Bordeaux in style, mixed with CA agro-community grit.

Reply by EMark, Jan 23, 2012.

Thanks for for the winery recommendations, ww.  Many of these are quite familiar.  Some are not.  We will, probably, be visiting the Central Coast in a few months to visit friends, and between this and a report that Jon Derry posted a while back, I have some good ideas.

While, I'm at it, I will mention one of my favorite Central Coast wineries--Foley in Lompoc.  Sourcing from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, I feel they do a great job with the classic Burgundy grapes. 

Reply by JonDerry, Jan 23, 2012.

Nice list here, though i'm not very familiar with the Pinot scene I did get a good look at the Rhone Rangers movement in Paso and liked it quite a bit. It's really a good alternative to Napa/Sonoma for a lot of people, and just might help keep their pricing honest, if nothing else.

Have you tried Villa Creek or Booker wines? Would definitely recommend a visit if you haven't. I left Paso thinking about the 2009 Villa Creek High Road (James Berry Vineyard) for quite a while, and still do. Wish I could have bought more. Terry Hoage was another winery up there I highly recommend, right next to L'Aventure.

Reply by JonDerry, Jan 23, 2012.

By the way, didn't notice you put Zin Alley up there the first time, that place is something...the folks at Terry Hoage recommended it above Turley, which was enough to grab my attention.

Have visited BlackJack in Santa Barbara and they probably do the Bordeaux blends as good as any or most in the region, though they have that priced into the wine, which I couldn't quite call a buy. Worth a follow up visit i'd have to say.

Reply by wwalker1013, Jan 23, 2012.

EM - Thanks for the Foley recommendation - I'll add it to the list.  I planned to hit Brewer-Clifton and Flying Goat in the Lompoc area, so thats an easy add.

JD - If nothing else, the Zin Alley experience is a trip.  "I've got two wines, take 'em or leave 'em."  I've not been to Villa Creek or Terry Hoage, but if James Berry is involved, I should be there.

Reply by dmcker, Jan 23, 2012.

"I do like a good Pinot (Chamisal Califa, Laetitia Les Galets, for example) but I love many of these for their syrah's and other Rhone blends."


I was going to say that I didn't see your list as being best across the board for pinot noir.   ;-)

What are you really looking for, Rhone stylings, or pinot noir, or big CA bombast like the Turleys? And what kind of pinots or syrahs do you prefer?

I notice neither Au Bon Climat nor Ojai made the list. Nor Saxum. Nor Jonata. Those last two aren't really culty even if they're not cheap, though Sea Smoke seems to tend in that direction. Then, of course, there's that place down on Ventura Ave. known by its three-letter acronym (easier than its full latin name).

And what is it about Napa that doesn't rock your boat? Are you including all syrahs from there and Sonoma? And pinot noir from Sonoma?

Hearing more from you on these will help make responses more intelligent and focused....

Reply by wwalker1013, Jan 24, 2012.

Hey DMC,  Good catch.  I'm not a huge Pinot guy, and there are roughly 20 other wineries not on that list that I've visited, tasted, and found enjoyable, but not my preferred.  Although, I do have a soft spot for the Cambria 2a Pinot.

Ojai is on the list for April, but secondary due to its geographic isolation.  I have the impression Saxum and Sea Smoke don't taste - is there something I'm missing, I'd love to visit!  I've not been to Jonata, nor Au Bon Climat, worth the add?  Here's my itinerary thus far:


Fri Vines on the Marycrest   Bella Luna   Hansen   Villa Creek   Booker     Sat Edna Valley   Brewer-Clifton   Flying Goat   Foley     Sun Jaffurs   Beckman   Dascombs   Ojai


Edna Valley is on the list thanks to a personal connection with the vineyard manager - not my connection, but my chauffeur's :)  I'm returning to Hansen for the pick-up party (as a member), and may or may not return to Bella Luna.  I've only tasted one of the wines from Vines on the Marycrest, and it was a deeper more complete version of Turley's Pesenti or Ueberroth - perhaps because it was a Zin blend with Petite Sirah...

Additionally, I've begun exploring the Sonoma Coast.  I've had some good luck with Pinot's, Syrah's and cool-er Cab's (can't put my finger on the cab's at the moment).  To your question about Napa (and Sonoma until recently), I'm turned off by high alcohol and super-fruit, leading me to cool-er climates and gentler winemaking.  To be fair, I've not explored Napa much, and my elementary process for buying, having never been there nor participated in a broad survey, could really be the problem.

Turley is my guilty pleasure.  And I'm not ashamed to admit it - despite the fact that they tend to offer wines against my general preference.

Reply by JonDerry, Jan 24, 2012.

Have to say i've been slow to the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, but it's because i've had too many disappointments with CA pinot's, and have a hard time paying for the better reds of Burgundy. I should get one just to experience it some time.

Now Wine Spectator had to go and give their wine of the year to a sonoma coast pinot noir.

Napa has a ton of options, so if you are ever open to trying some you'll probably have a much better experience after taking some recommendations. It may not matter much, however, I don't think it's a bad thing to specialize in certain regions. The Central Coast and Paso Robles in particular is big enough to give you good variety, but small enough to really KNOW it, which is fun. Good scene too, just so that it doesn't grow much bigger.

Reply by wwalker1013, Jan 24, 2012.

Ha!  Hadn't caught the WS acclaim, congrats Kosta.  What sent me to SC was Turley winemaker, Ehren Jordan.  His personal line, Failla, caught my attention.  I'm not overwhelmed by it, but it got my curiosity peaked.  Unfortunately his stuff is too expensive for me to really dig into each bottle.  I believe he's a Pittsburgh-metro-area native too.  See there, PA is part of the wine game :)

Speaking of the WS Top 100 - I've had previous vintages of the Freeman that took #22, and felt it was over-the-top, as though they forced the grape into a particular mold.  Not a huge fan.  That said, my drinking partners disagreed.

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