Advertisement


 


Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

Santa Barbara Wines

Posted by JonDerry, Jun 27, 2011.

As expected, I tried quite a few Santa Barbara wines this weekend and came out with some good finds. Here's the run down of the first day, i'll have to continue on with day two later on.

Jaffurs - This was our first stop on the way up, it wasn't a great time to visit as their better/best 2008 wines were sold out, but everything they put out is very competent.  The 09' Grenache Blanc, Viogner, Petite Syrah (Thompson Vineyard), and the 08' Grenache all showed pretty well, but nothing extraordinary.  If you buy two bottles, the tasting fee is waived so I left with a Grenache (the good finish stuck out to me), and the nice, clean Viogner for my wife.  I was happy to hear that starting in the 2010 vintage they are going to start introducing some traditional rhone blends (grenache, mourvedre, syrah), etc. Will look forward to that.

Whitcraft - From a small winery (jaffurs) to smaller one.  The original founder, Chris was behind the bench when we arrived, with a lineup of 6 wines.  He proceeded to give us a good synopsis of all his personal and winery highlights since he started the winery in 1985, from the local radio show he hosted, to some sideways history, and his own winemaking highlights.  Perhaps I got him going by letting him know how much I loved his 2006 Aubaine Vineyard Pinot Noir.  On to the wines...their premium chardonnay was pretty impressive, though their intro to mid-priced pinot's were underwhelming.  However, the brilliant 06' Aubaine I remembered was vindicated when we tasted the 08' version, which was also excellent at $60.  We took home a bottle, and it was interesting to see how it evolved over the weekend.

Hitching Post - I was a bit biased against their wines, but their wine list smartly didn't leave much room for exploration.  Took a chance with their 2004 Fiddlestix Pinot Noir, and am very glad I did.  Really one of the better Pinot's i've had, if not my favorite.  Very elegant in style with great purity of fruit, mild spice, and with good acidity and a persistent finish.  Also tried a glass of their 06' Highliner which is their best Pinot available by the glass ($13) and though the fruit was on par with the Fiddlestix, there was no real finish and it also lacked the complexity to compete.

 

Replies

20
6108
Reply by dmcker, Jun 27, 2011.

Thanks for the notes, Jon.

So I take it you didn't try to chase down any SeaSmoke, Jonata or Sine Qua Non?  ;-)   Nor a trip down to Ojai?

Am looking forward to your tasting notes for your second day. Also would be curious if you had any good winebar/restaurant experiences...

27
1257
Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jun 27, 2011.

Nice summary Jon

75
2406
Reply by JonDerry, Jun 27, 2011.

Yeah, I was up for a friend's bachelor party, so there was a pretty big emphasis on sideways related activities, but it was good to squeeze in some tastings.  We actually ate at the Hitching Post on Friday night, and it was really enjoyable, had the duck/filet combo, which went very well with the two pinot's.  Was really a treat to try the two side by side, especially for a guy that hasn't had a good history with Pinot Noir it was great. I should mention the 04' HP Fiddlestix was $60/bottle.

Also found their peanut butter/chocolate cake to be excellent.

75
2406
Reply by JonDerry, Jun 27, 2011.

By the way, i'm glad you mentioned SQN, had no idea they were based out of Ventura with roots in Santa Barbara.  Really a big surprise for me.

Found this video online: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1666283/sqn_sine_qua_non_winery_cult_wine/

Interesting comments on Grenache, "I love its stubbornness"

20
6108
Reply by dmcker, Jun 27, 2011.

Yeah, Ventura Avenue of all places. If you know Ventura (and the whole tri-counties area) at all, that's a major shocker.

I spent a bit of my youth in that town, and have run into a number of interesting people who've lived there, or in Ojai. Yvon Chouinard being another surprise some years ago until I figured out he built Great Pacific Iron Works (to hammer out his pitons, etc. for his Yosemite climbs back when) in Ventura to actually catch some surf off the point (and Rincon) very nearby. Of course he went on to found Patagonia from there and expand his reach worldwide, even down to preservation efforts in Patagonia of all places.

More artists and writers and actors up in Ojai.

Don't know the story about why Manfred Krankl chose that location, unless it was something similar that also was a quick jump onto the 101 so he could supply Campinile down in West LA with his plonk. Not that anyone would call it that, anymore, nor do I think he views that supply effort as essential to his business plan these days....

20
6108
Reply by dmcker, Jun 27, 2011.

Thanks for the link, Jon. Hadn't seen it before and just watched it. I had heard that he was trying to do all local vineyards of his own up towards Casitas, etc., and cut out all sourcing from other vineyards up in Santa Barbara. This was filmed in 2007, I believe, and from how he talked in the vid he was just upping the push towards that then.

Not too surprisingly, he looks like an interesting guy.

 

193
198
Reply by lingprof, Jun 28, 2011.

Yay!  planning to go to SB soon with friends, so thanks very much for posting this!

152
1832
Reply by napagirl68, Jun 28, 2011.

I did some tasting in Los Olivos.  I really liked Alexander and Wayne's Cuvee 5 bordeaux-type red.  I also like Qupe's 2008 Sawyer Lindquist edna valley vineyard syrah, as well as the 2007 Bien Nacido Roussane.  I also very much enjoyed Epiphany's white rhones, especially the grenache blanc.  I wish I had time to do ALL the wineries, but had dinner reservations at the Hitching post.  Forgot to mention Carina cellars has some great Viognier, and I also liked Carhartt's Sauv blanc.

http://www.losolivosca.com/index.html

 

75
2406
Reply by JonDerry, Jun 30, 2011.

Make sure to let us know how your trip goes Ling, hope you have a good time.

NG - So many wineries, so little time.  Have been meaning to try Qupe, and I hear so much about Bien Nacido, really need to figure that out.  How was it at the Hitching Post?  I had a great meal with real nice wines there, but wonder if it was just luck.

So day 2 of my trip bears explanation.  We were a bit tired from the day before as would be expected.  I thought Buttonwood Farm would be a nice spot to handle the size of our group, and it was.  Problem was the wines didn't show very well.  All decent stuff, but there was nothing that stood out to make anyone want to buy.  Disappointing too, since the last time I was there, the 2004 Cabernet was real nice, and I drank bottles for the next 18 months and enjoyed them all.

Next on my agenda was perhaps a little bit of an ambitious plan to cross town towards Dierberg. They had recommended this winery at Jaffurs, and from what I could tell it seemed like a good call.  However, the bachelor spotted a place that had a sign saying "As seen on Sideways", so we decided we'd better check it out.  Turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  BlackJack winery.  Inside, there was a different vibe afoot.  10 wines on the tasting menu for $12, with back vintages highlighted as well as more than perfunctory Parker ratings reaching up into the mid 90's. Overall the wines showed well, with a reserve Chardonnay and their signature blend, Harmonie with numerous back vintages of this Bordeaux Blend continuing to be celebrated.  Really enjoyed their 06', which consists of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Merlot.  Retail $60.  Also, as a special pour they gave us a taste of their 03' Harmonie, which was their highest Parker rating, and holding up very well, still fresh.  $100.  Also in the lineup was a Cabernet Franc/ Merlot blend, which was decent, and i'd have to say that the Syrah underwhelmed.  Regardless, I walked out of there thinking their Harmonie/ Bordeaux Blends are an essential Santa Barbara wine to keep track of, and i'd recommend the 06'.

Dierberg, and others will have to wait until the next trip.

20
6108
Reply by dmcker, Jun 30, 2011.

How often do you make it up to Santa Barbara? A number of interesting things to do, even involving wine, beyond just the Santa Ynez valley....

75
2406
Reply by JonDerry, Jun 30, 2011.

Absolutely, I live in LA so i'm very close and yet haven't explored it much at all.  This was really my first trip up to visit wineries.  I had been to Buttonwood once a few years back, but that was more by accident really.  This trip we stopped in Santa Barbara on the way up, then stuck close to the Santa Ynez/Solvang/Buellton neighborhood, but as you hint at, I noticed there are about 6 completely different trails in the surrounding area.

152
1832
Reply by napagirl68, Jul 2, 2011.

Jon,

I am glad you had a good experience at Hitching Post.  I found my steak to be mediocre, especially for the price.  But I am very, very picky with steak... the only steaks I have truly found delicious were in Austin, TX.  My overall impression was that it was overpriced for what you received, but no surprise there because of Sideways.  I wish that we had just stayed in Los Olivos and ate at one of the outdoor restaurants that smelled very inviting. HP was PACKED, so maybe it's just me...

The next day, we skipped Solvang and headed down to SB and Ojai.. but I did see that Lucas and Llewellyn (sp) have a tasting room in Solvang (was closed for us- Easter).  I have tasted their stuff and the second label I think, Mandolino, up here in NorCal at a wine shop.  I kinda liked some of their wines.  Wondered if you tasted and what you thought.

We were a bit limited by schedule, and the fact that many of the wineries were closed on Easter Sunday.  We did Los Olivos on Sat (what a cute little town!) and we had planned on doing the Foxen Canyon wineries on Sunday, but they were all closed. 

I am not too informed about that whole region, but was told by several in the tasting rooms that Los Olivos is sort of  Rhone country, and if you want good Pinot, Lompoc is the place for that.  Everyone kept telling me to try Clos Pepe for pinot in Lompoc, but we had to head down to Ojai.  

Sounds like you're close enough to explore more.  Damn, it was a long drive for us!

20
6108
Reply by dmcker, Jul 2, 2011.

Always loved that drive, though, NG. Santa Barbara to San Fran is one of my favorite drives on earth. PCH, of course. Even 101 can be fun. When on the latter used to cut off towards Hunter Ligett and test my car's paces. Highest speed on that road was 175 (240kph). But that was during an extended crazy period. Don't want to be doing speed on 101 around King City, since Monterey County used to make huge portions of the Sherrif's budget from Cessna-in-the-sky speed traps, with cooperation from the CHP.

Where did you visit, and stay, in Ojai?


Back to Categories

Top Contributors This Month

125836 Snooth User: dmcker
125836dmcker
116 posts
1498622 Snooth User: Really Big Al
1498622Really Big Al
63 posts
324443 Snooth User: outthere
324443outthere
60 posts

Categories

View All





Snooth Media Network