This is the follow-up post to a recent Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association virtual #winechat event I was tapped to participate in. You can find reviews of the first three wines I had an opportunity to taste here. In this post, I will echo some of the same thoughts/factoids about the region with reviews of the remaining wines. This tasting featured six relatively small-production and pleasing white wines that were all ripe for summertime sipping and perfect companions to a wide variety of (warm-weather) foods. Santa Barbara is located in southern California; approximately 90 miles north of Los Angeles, and is an overall cool-climate wine growing appellation with some warmer areas further inland.
The Santa Barbara wine region boasts four AVA’s (Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara), over 100 wineries, and more than 20K acres of vine plantings. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah lead the way in plantings, but according to specs sent over by the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association, over 65 grape varieties are planted to this diversified wine growing appellation. In my experience with the region’s wines -- both white and red, I have more times than not, found them to have an appealing (and food-friendly) built-in brightness and elegance. I presume this defining characteristic is largely influenced by the appellation's cool-climate which serves to preserve the natural acidity and freshness in the berries. Even some of the more ripe and sizeable selections from Santa Barbara that I have been able to find on store shelves here have generally had a much appreciated levity and vibrancy about them. Below are the three wines I had an opportunity to sample accompanied by my tasting notes and a picture I snapped of each bottle. Variety, so they say, is the spice of life; so, keep an open mind and an open palate and enjoy the experience. Drink well my friends!
1) Palmina Winery Honea Vineyard 2011 Arneis (SRP $20): Arneis is an ancient grape variety that hails from the Roero hills of Italy's famed Piemonte region. Its name translates to “little rascal,” which reflects its tendency to be difficult in the vineyard and cellar in Italy. For a few of my guest, this was their first experience with Arneis -- and they found this example both interesting and delicious. Therefore, I suspect the folks in the Santa Ynez Valley have tamed it a bit. Satisfying and succulent, this wine shows fresh (yet subtle) tree fruit, exotic spice, and white flower aromas/flavors wrapped around a firm acid spine. The wine is nicely balanced and nuanced with a fleshy texture and medium-length finish. One of my friends said this was one of the most interesting white wines they recall tasting in quite some time. (Other info: ABV 13.5%, indigenous yeast fermentation, combo of neutral oak and stainless for a year, additional six months in bottle prior to release). Click here to find this wine.
2) Fontes & Phillips Wines 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $18): Fontes & Phillips is a small-production boutique winery started by husband and wife duo, Alan Phillips and Rochelle Fontes-Phillips. They specialize in single-vineyard wines from Santa Barbara County vineyards. The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from the Santa Ynez Valley and shows soft melon and citrus fruit scents and flavors with muted floral notes. The palate is pure and fresh with a vibrant mineral acidity that persists through to the wine’s clean and crisp medium-length finish. This wine, in my humble opinion, is one to enjoy now (whilst in its youth) with summertime fare and good friends. The wine’s wonderful acidity and fresh yet delicate flavors gives it the ability to saddle up with a wide variety of foods without being overpowering. Seafood and/or shellfish are high on my list of best matches. (Other info: ABV 13.8%, 100% Stainless, cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.
3) Summerland Winery 2012 Sierra Madre Chardonnay (SRP $35): Summerland Winery is a boutique producer specializing in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Central Coast of California. This Chardonnay is fresh and focused exhibiting ﬂinty green apple and vibrant citrus fruit (namely pink grapefruit) aromas tinged with tropical accents. Bright acid frames a semi-rich texture with a clean and lengthy citrus finish. Overall, this a lively and tasty Chardonnay that sips nicely on its own that can also partner up to a wide range of (summertime) foods. Approximately 150 cases of this wine were produced. (Other info: ABV 14.1%, natural cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.
Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: These wines were provided for an event. Thoughts are my own.
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