Tonight’s Occasion: 2013 Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills) by Rusack Vineyards, Central Coast, CA
Deep ruby color. A burst of bright ripe berries fills the air as soon as it’s uncorked. This is the most recognizable hallmark of a faithful Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. Crisp, bright red cherries, raspberries and berries. A soft sand and driftwood leather lingers throughout the stage. Swirling intensifies the nose across the board. It’s intoxicating. Hints of pepper dot the experience. Just beautiful.
Body greets with a touch of acidity in the form of a slight citrus cola essence. This is quickly followed by a subtle, crisp, refined caramel reminiscent of neutral French oak. Very gentle, crisp tannins quickly follow lending a grounding effect with just enough structure to frame the stage. Body takes a slightly soft, plush mouth feel. Sweet citrus (think Meyer lemon), subtle cola and berries reemerge towards the back. This marks the transition to a gentle fading finish as gentle tannins and mineral leather take turns drying and wetting the palate. A gentle spice punctuates the whole experience.
One of the first winemakers I explored from this region. It’s amazing how much of an impact the right winemaker can have on the inquisitive palate. Rusack is a must for the intermediate to advanced palate. One seeking to better familiarize their palate with this region and its unique expression. A faithful wine that is representative of both the Varietal and the region. A great sense of place. Nicely done Rusack!
Today’s occasion: 2019 P.C.H. Rosé of Pinot Noir (Central Coast) by Pali Wine Co.
Some of the best Pinot I’ve had comes from the Central Coast. Light, crisp, subtle and nuanced. One of my favorite winemakers I track in my cellar is Pali Wine Co. Particularly for their signature Pinot Noir. I love how they channel the region at large. So while I may not indulge in Rosé very often, I had to try their Rosé of Pinot Noir – and I am happy to report that it does not disappoint.
Crisp bright nose with a hint of leather, bright crisp berries, touch of strawberry and a whiff of clean crisp oak. This nose fully translates into the body, bright, dry, strawberry, subtle oak and leather conspire to create a soft, rounded mouth feel. This complements a slight acidic punch very well. The whole experience fades away nicely with little drama.
It’s a great Rosé for the intermediate to advanced palate. It’s interesting to see how the subtlety of this varietal drives this Rosé’s expression especially with the subtle earth notes and berries typical of the region at large. You don’t get that often in this style of wine. It is very reminiscent of Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir – which as it turns out is precisely where the grapes are from.
Tonight’s occasion: 2009 Pinot Noir (Clos Pepe – Santa Rita Hills) by Roger Roessler Wines, Sonoma, CA.
Deep clear ruby color out of the bottle. Nose is a little shy with subtle notes of sweet cherry and a touch of berry. Swirling unlocks an unmistakable mushroom leather reminiscent of wet/damp forrest floor on a cold foggy morning. The Santa Rita Hills holds a special place in the heart and I must credit Roger Roessler Wines for introducing this region to me many years ago. This wine has that signature berry expression typical of this region but adds significant terroir characteristics in the form of a rich leather. Clos Pepe is a coveted vineyard and the quality of the fruit shows here.
Body is crisp, clean, perfectly balanced right off the bat. You are greeted by that signature berry typical of the Santa Rita Hills. Medium bodied tannins provide just the right amount of structure. Leather takes more of a back seat. Minerality is more noticeable albeit very subtle and towards the back as it conspires to turn the berries black. This marks the transition to a very gentle, graceful finish, which fades to leave the palate clean, crisp, slightly moist with a distant spice.
This is my last bottle. This wine is absolutely gorgeous. It has had time to integrate and aged gracefully. I cannot think of a more fitting way to end the year – featuring a vintage from the 2020 Winemaker of the Year, Roger Roessler Wines. Thank you for introducing me to so many Pinot from so many different regions.
To the entire crew at Roger Roessler Wines, I wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Pinot Noir (Sanford & Benedict Vineyard) by Sanford of the legendary Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara California.
Subtle aromatic nose characterized by rich fine leather of slightly damp loamy terroir intertwined with faint sweet berries, touch of dark cherries and vanilla. This wine commands a clean palate and clear mind.
Body is balanced right down the middle, front to back. An attack with suggestion of acidity is quickly counterbalanced by subtle tannin in the form of dark cherries. This creates just the right amount of background structure and foundation for a silky, whispy mouth feel. Oak vanilla and berries continue their gentle interplay as they carry over from the nose, introducing yet more whispers of musical harmony. Body and finish appear as one through a seamless transition culminating with gentle whispers of dry tannic grip and faint spice.
This is a terroir driven wine. An exercise in restraint and balance. A strict adherence to core principles. It reads like a thesis in Pinot Noir excellence. You cannot explore wines from the California central coast without indulging in this specific Pinot Noir by this storied founders’ vineyard. I keep this particular Pinot Noir on hand in my cellar as a benchmark and reference.
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Deep ruby red color. Nose is restrained, well mannered, slightly warm, with notes of oak, berries, hint of sweet cherry all conspiring to create a very subtle red vines licorice. Terroir is also represented in the form of wet dusty leather. It maintains a classy posture overall. Interesting.
Body is representative. A very mild restrained acidic attack that is quickly accompanied by buttery smooth tannins. Very subtle oak and blackberry emerge towards the back to create a full mouth feel. A very faint black currant lends good structure and balance as it transitions to a brief finish capped by a hint of spice.
I reviewed the Dierberg Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir a while back and was absolutely enamored with it. One of my top California Pinot Noirs. Looking back at my notes I can some similarities and some differences. First this one is more medium bodied, slightly dryer more structured body. Where they resemble is the result of the winemakers attention to detail, commitment to excellence and adherence to core principles. The result is a world class California Pinot. I highly recommend this Pinot, particularly for the advanced palate, especially side-by-side with the Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir for a good perspective on this winemaker and his craft. Well done folks!
Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Pinot Noir (Babcock Vineyard) by Pali Wine Co, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast.
Intense ruby color. Bright nose with plenty of cherry, hint of sweet cherry and smooth almost butterscotch caramel. Swirl vigorously to unlock even more caramel. A slight wet sand mineral undertone lingers in the back.
This is a classic central coast Pinot Noir. A fine example at that. Body is very restrained. Medium to light with good mild acid on the attack, moderate buttery tannins create a clean, rounded mouth feel. Good separation keeps your attention without straying too far off balance. A tart blackberry slowly take over the transition to a slightly dry and spicy finish.
This is a one-time limited production using grapes from a coveted Vineyard. Exactly the kind of wine I love exploring. What I like about this winemaker most is their wines are true and representative of their origins. No two are the same. They present a great opportunity to explore varied regions and styles of Pinot. I look forward to exploring more of their wines. Well done Aaron and all of the lively crew at Pali Wine Co! 🍷😁👌🏽
Guest Review: 2017 Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills Appellation) by Sanford of the legendary Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara California.
I think I found the Prince of Pinot! Sanford 2017 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills Appellation is an elegant and well balanced Pinot.
Bright ruby red colored, light and fruity aromas of cherries, leather, and baking spices. On the palate, flavors of raspberries, red cherries, oak, and light peppercorn. At 13.5% ABV, this Pinot Noir has balanced acid and tannin structures, a delightful wine for any special occasion.
Need pairing ideas? Try pairing Sanford 2017 Pinot Noir with:
Salmon or other fatty fish
Pasta dishes with pesto, a cream base, or mushroom sauce
Beef and garlic dishes
About our guest
Jenn is a Native Texan photographer, wine lover. She thoroughly enjoys learning about wine making, the history behind wines, and of course wine tasting. She also has a passion for travel and is on a mission to find amazing wines from around the world.
Tonight’s occasion: 2014 Pinot Noir (Block 6) by Sanford of the legendary Sanford and Benedict Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara California.
Clear ruby color. Nose of crisp berry, sweet cherry and caramel with a hint of leather. Mildly acidic is attack quickly overwhelmed by a creamy, buttery expression. The caramel follows through the body along with a hint of plum, berry and a more pronounced leather. The terroir is well expressed. A seamless transition to a very subtle finish with very little fanfare. This is after all a traditional style Pinot Noir. Once opened up, gentle tannins and a hint of spice linger.
I keep a stash of Sanford Pinot in my cellar as a reference wine. It is a textbook example of what is possible when it comes to California Pinot. From grape to glass, they are delicate, layered, exquisite wines of the highest quality. For me they serve as an fine example for the central coast. You simply cannot speak of California Pinot Noir and not try their wines. It’s refreshing to see a Vineyard with such a legacy stay true to its craft after so many decades.
Keep up the great work guys! 🍷😁👌🏽
You know, it wasn’t until I visited this vineyard on my first visit to Santa Barbara wine country that I realized there is more than the popular “Big California Pinot”. If you aren’t familiar with it, this is the vineyard that showed California and the wine world at large that growing and making a delicate and exquisite Burgundian style Pinot in this region is possible. This one is no exception. The notes are so subtle, you probably should taste it before eating or drinking anything as they can easily be overwhelmed by anything else on your palate. I highly recommend their wines. They serve as a great benchmark for this region and California at large. What’s your occasion tonight?
There are some great wineries tucked away in these hills. Were it not for a very helpful tip from my friend and Sonoma Vintner Roger Roessler of (rogerroesslerwines.com), I would have otherwise driven by and missed this gem.
The winery had a certain modern contemporary minimalist, uncluttered feel that I think helped enhance the wine tasting experience. I found the staff to be very knowledgeable about the wines, estate and history as a whole. Presenting wines from both Dierberg and sister winery Star Lane Vineyard which offers some very interesting and exclusive art in a bottle.
Even though I’m not much of a white wine enthusiast, I thought their whites were very approachable, really well made and with a refreshing amount of creativity too. All their reds were exemplary, really well built wines very much in line with the wines I had tasted so far on this trip. I left with half a case of their Pinot Noir. I will be posting my thoughts whenever I open one of them. I will most definitely be visiting Dierberg next time I’m in the region.