News & Press Releases > Santa Barbara wine: Put these wines on your list to try
DATE: 8/14/2013

Santa Barbara wine: Put these wines on your list to try

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On a beautiful day in Santa Barbara last Saturday, wine enthusiasts were able to taste unreleased wines from a collection of Santa Barbara County's top vineyards. The Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting was held at the courtyard in front of Les Marchands, a new wine shop and wine bar in the Funk Zone, i.e., on the beach side of the 101.  

These are the wines you'll want to seek out.

Jenni Bonaccorsi was pouring three Bonaccorsi 2011 Pinots, including a stunning one from Cargasacchi Vineyard in Santa Rita Hills with both power and finesse. At Richard Sanford's Alma Rosa, I liked the 2012 Chardonnay “El Jabali Vineyard" Santa Rita Hills for its crisp acidity and minimal oak. And when I got to the Au Bon Climat and Clendenen Family Vineyards table, I had to taste the gnarly 2005 Refosco. That’s an Italian varietal little grown in California.  

So many great Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noirs, too many to mention here. Some of the wines are very small production — 45 cases or 92 or something like that. Sashi Moorman made just 140 cases of the 2011 Sandhi Chardonnay “Sanford & Benedict,” and the price is in the high $40 to $50. But the wine from 42-year-old vines is magic if you like more chiseled chardonnay. Moorman’s 2011 Stolpman Estate Syrah Santa Ynez Valley is dry-farmed and organic, a beautiful bruiser of a Syrah that will sell for under $30 — and he made 5,000 cases of that one.

I really liked the Austrian varietals from Graham Tatomer of Tatomer, who spent three years working with Knoll and Hirtzberger in the Wachau region of Austria. Especially the 2012 Tatomer Riesling from Kick-on Ranch in Santa Barbara, where he’s able to do multiple pickings. I also enjoyed chatting with South African winemaker Ernst Storm, who produces Storm Sauvignon Blanc Santa Ynez Valley and two mid-priced Pinot Noirs from Presqu’ile Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley and John Sebastiano Vineyard in Santa Rita Hills. 

Joshua Klapper of La Fenêtre was out of his À Côté rosé, but was pouring an interesting Pinot Gris that will retail for just over $20. I really liked his Santa Barbara County chardonnay as well, a perfect oyster wine with its sharp minerality.

Santa Rita Pinot prices can get up there, but not everything is in the $40 range. The 2012 Carlson Blanc Santa Ynez, the first year for this summery blend of Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, will retail at just over $20. More expensive is the 2012 Buoni Anni Bianco Santa Ynez Valley made by Doug Margerum. The blend of Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Friulano tasted like something you’d try to sneak back in your suitcase from Italy. Oh, and that Clendenen Family Refosco, it’s a future, too, even though it’s the 2005 vintage and will sell for around $20 retail.

Did I mention the drive on a late Saturday morning took almost three hours from Los Angeles?

As I was rinsing out my wineglass in the courtyard, I heard a train whistle. Turns out the Santa Barbara train station is just behind, meaning I could have taken the train in from Union Station. How heavenly would that be? Wine tasting in the Funk Zone and then not having to drive home.