2016 Pinot Noir (Drum Canyon) by Dierberg * StarLane

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Pinot Noir (Drum Canyon) by Dierberg * StarLane

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!

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Dierberg Star Lane wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2016 Pinot Noir (Babcock Vineyard) by Pali Wine Co

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! 🍷😁👌🏽

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Pali wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Guest Review: 2017 Pinot Noir by Sanford

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:

      • Roasted Chicken
      • Salmon or other fatty fish
      • Duck
      • 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.

You can follow Jenn’s journey via his Instagram page @txblondevoyage


Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Sanford wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2014 Pinot Noir by Sanford

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! 🍷😁👌🏽

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Sanford wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2016 Pinot Noir by Sanford

Tonight’s occasion is a 2016 Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills (Gravity Flow) by Sanford of the legendary Sanford and Sanford and Benedict Vineyard.

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?

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Sanford wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Dierberg, Santa Barbara

Dierberg Star Lane

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.

Dierberg is a must if you are in the region. Their wines are exemplary, well built showcases. Their multi-vineyard estate spanning the greater region from Santa Rita Hills (AVA) to Santa Maria Valley (AVA) to Happy Canyon (AVA).

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.

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Dierberg Star Lane wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, Santa Barbara

2018Sanford_5My trip to Santa Barbara wine country this past weekend had been a long time coming. I had never visited the region before this weekend. Occasionally, a friend or guest to one of my wine summits would bring a bottle from this region to share. I was always intrigued by the fact that I had yet to sample a mediocre wine from this region and the central coast at large. Perhaps my friends just have good taste. Either way I was poised to answer this and many questions on this trip.

There is no shortage of interesting wine country to explore here in California (especially Northern California). Enough to keep the most curious Oenophile thoroughly occupied. My interest in the greater Santa Barbara wine region was really sparked by long time Sonoma vintner extraordiaire, Roger Roessler (rogerroesslerwines.com). I have been following/collecting/savoring his creations for well over a decade now. You will be seeing quite a few posts about his wines. What drew me in was his passion for Pinot Noir and the sometimes overwhelming variety of Pinot he would put out not just from Sonoma, but from all up and down the West Coast. His selection reads like a compendium of California Pinot Noirs. Each one strikingly different, unique in it’s own right. An expression of what he liked most about that region.

2018Sanford_7
Pinot Noir. Bougie Grapes…LOL

One of Roessler’s Pinots I have enjoyed over the years is his S&B Pinot. The S&B stands for Sanford and Benedict. Initially I did not quite appreciate the significance of the name. I assumed it had personal significance to Roger. Over the years as my appreciation grew and after many discussions with him about his various wines and their inspirations, I realized the true meaning of the label. As Roger shared his thoughts on the region I realized it carried profound significance.

As my visit to this region neared, I began researching and learning more about the region and it’s history. In one evening of casual reading, I realized the Sanford and Benedict Vineyard was more than just another California winery. It was a cornerstone  establishment in the larger region with a storied history, started by true pioneers (and purists) Roger Sanford and Michael Benedict. They paved the way for the region by showing what was truly possible – growing and making truly exceptional Pinot Noir.

My first stop was Sanford and Benedict Vineyards. Now owned by the Terlato Family. I left with the impression that they have done a terrific job of preserving not just it’s name and identity, but the legacy that brought it’s Pinot Noir and the region at large to notoriety. As It still felt somewhat understated. The grounds were clean and free of clutter. The buildings had a bit of a subdued presence with more of an quiet established feel. The wine list was very straight forward and to the point, all small production Estate wines. One signature Pinot, two single block Pinots and one reserve blend of a couple blocks.

All it took for me was my taste of the signature Pinot – the 2014 Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir. It was one of the most delicate and complex California Pinot Noirs I have had and certainly deserves a post all its own. As the tasting progressed, our host was gracious enough to take us outside, show us the vines, grounds and tell us about what makes it all truly special. I also couldn’t help but notice how perfectly trimmed/pruned the vines were. I haven’t quite seen vines and grounds this immaculately maintained before. As my visit progressed it became obvious why their grapes are so sought after far an wide. I began to realize their estate wines served as a thesis, a guide and reference on how to grow and  make a Pinot Noir. Sanford and Benedict set a very high bar for all wines in the region. I spent the rest of my weekend looking back at Sanford and Benedict every time I tasted wines. A tough act to follow. A tall legacy to beat. A few came close. I finally understood why a winemaker would come this far for grapes.

If you are even anywhere remotely close to this region, Sanford and Benedict is an absolute must! It alone is worth making the trip.

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Sanford wines delivered to your doorstep.

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I found a great write-up on their history here:
https://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/spring-2018-edibles-and-potables/back-land-richard-sanford-and-tao-pinot-noir

For more information, please visit their website here:
http://www.sanfordwinery.com/