2011 Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard
Fiddlestix is a renowned, expertly farmed, vineyard at the cool western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. The early morning fog and cool afternoon breezes provide a long, even growing season, which allows full phenolic maturity at reasonable sugar levels. In 2011 we obtained fruit from four separate blocks, consisting of clones 113, 115, 667 and 777 in precise locations in the vineyard. Each clone contributes unique characteristics, adding complexity to the final blend; however, the wines all bear the signature characteristics of Fiddlestix. As always, the grapes were harvested in the early morning (or night), and we personally hand sorted the clusters in the field. We processed the fruit within hours; some is fully destemmed without crushing, some is fermented with a percentage of whole clusters (approximately 15-20% of the final blend). We cold soaked the grapes for 4 to 7 days before permitting fermentation to commence with native yeasts, and using a mixture of pigage, pumpovers and gentle punchdowns for extraction. At dryness, free run juice was drained directly to barrel and the remaining berries gently pressed separately. The wine was aged on its lees for 18 months in French oak barrels, 25% new, without racking, before rigorous selection, blending and bottling without fining or filtration. Limited. Only 300 cases produced.
Our Tasting Note: Despite its youth, this wine already displays terrific depth and complexity within its medium bodied frame. The nose is a mélange of high toned red fruits; black cherry, raspberry and pomegranate, interspersed with smoky notes of charcoal, nori and black licorice and Asian spices of cardamom and star anise. On the palate is medium bodied, presenting classic Santa Rita Hills black cherry fruit with notes of dried cranberry, rhubarb, strawberry jam, complicated by energetic citrus notes of blood orange zest and pomegranate pith which then merge with herbs (thyme), wet earth and stony minerals. The wine has solid acids and fine grained tannins providing lift and a long, complex and fascinating finish.
2011 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, “Black Label”
In stylistic contrast to the Fiddlestix, the Black Label, rather than expressing the nature of a single vineyard, utilizes the winemakers’ art of blending to achieve a wine whose whole exceeds the sum of its parts. Thus, after extensive tasting of the 2011 barrels, we selected five distinctive barrels of Pinot Noir: two from Cargasacchi Sta. Rita Hills, and one each from Fiddlestix, La Encantada and John Sebastiano, to create a wine worthy of the same black label we use for the MJM. The wine was produced in the same method as usual: harvested in small, careful picks with vigorous field sorting, a 4 to 7 day cold soak, careful fermentation largely with native yeasts, and aging, on the lees, without racking, in the finest French oak cooperage, with careful and constant supervision. Ultimately we aged the wine for 18 months in French oak barrels (80% new) and bottled without fining or filtration. Extremely Limited. Only 125 cases made.
Our Tasting Note: Initially shy, with air, the wine delivers a solid core of deep, dark, black cherry flavors, complicated by creamy blackberry, raspberry and strawberry, with a solid dusting of new oak spices; vanilla, cocoa, coffee and nutmeg. On the palate the wine is substantial, yet silky smooth, as waves of cherry and raspberry laced fruits are interspersed with baking spices and vanilla. The wine, at once deep and concentrated, is held aloft by substantial, yet ripe and pliant tannins and refreshing acidity, resulting in a long, velvety-textured and satisfying finish. This wine will age gracefully for several years.
2012 Rosé, Happy Canyon
In 2012 we selected precise vineyard blocks for red grapes that would be used specifically for this wine. After a long cool growing season, we harvested (with field sorting as always) Grenache and Mourvedre and whole cluster pressed the grapes over a long slow press cycle to provide just the right amount of skin contact while gently extracting maximum flavors. We added 5% Syrah, which had been bled off the Syrah fermenters, for additional complexity and body. 2012, as you are no doubt starting to hear, was a terrific vintage, and these grapes benefitted from being grown in almost perfect conditions. The juiciness of the Grenache and the complex, wild red fruits and orange zest of the Mourvedre work perfectly together in 2012.
Our Tasting Note: Aromas of sweet raspberry, wild strawberry, pear, gentle baking spices (star anise), with a touch of pine and thyme. On the palate, the wine delivers an explosive jolt of apple, strawberry, raspberry and cranberry fruits, orange peel, and stony minerals. Light bodied, but expressive, the wine has a smooth velvety texture and clean, refreshing acidity which deliver length and complexity.
2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
A small production run (75 cases) that we sell out (quickly) in the tasting room, this wine will be familiar to long time fans of ours. Saignée from our Pinot Noir fermenters, this wine hails from several esteemed vineyards in one of the top growing regions anywhere. Approximately 24 hours after these precious grapes are destemmed, we draw off small amounts of juice and transfer it to older French oak barrels for fermentation. At dryness, the wine is consolidated into full barrels, and malolactic fermentation blocked to retain critical acidity. The wine ages for several months before bottling. A more full bodied Rosé, it hints at red Pinot Noir, while remaining crisp, energetic and palate cleansing.
Our Tasting Note: The nose features notes of watermelon, rhubarb, earthy wild strawberry, lavender, bay leaf and a touch of orange peel. On the palate, the wine is substantial, with fresh cherry, apple, watermelon and strawberries in a light to medium bodied frame. The fruits are balanced by energetic citrus tinged acidity, which turns to lemon zest and grapefruit on the long finish.
2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Vogelzang Vineyard
As you all know, we believe that Sauvignon Blanc is one of the great white wine grapes of the world, and we aim to produce reference point wines from this varietal. Vogelzang in the Happy Canyon area of the Santa Ynez Valley, is particularly well suited to growing this noble grape. Happy Canyon’s unique soils and climate – warm to hot summer daytime high temperatures and cool to cold evening lows – create wines demonstrating riper spectrum fruit flavors balanced by vibrant refreshing acidity. We purchase Vogelzang fruit by the acre, permitting us to control the farming practices, limit yields, manage the canopy and harvest in selective picks. We feel Vogelzang fruit is particularly well suited to barrel fermentation and longer aging, and we aged this wine for 16 month in 80% French oak barrels (25% new) and 20% stainless steel barrels. Bottled unfiltered. Extremely Limited. Only 150 cases produced.
Our Tasting Note: The wine displays energetic, intense aromas of tropical and yellow fruits, such as mango, fresh pineapple, and sweet nectarine, complicated by gentle herbal notes, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and toasted brioche. On the palate the wine is rich and full-flavored in a medium bodied frame, as tropical fruits, melons and apricots at first appear creamy, before a racy note of chalk, minerals and wet stones provide energy and focus. The round acidity gives a long, serious and penetrating finish.
2011 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
This wine is a blend of top sites in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, where foggy mornings give way to windy afternoons with brilliant sunshine, perfect for Pinot Noir. This wine is composed of grapes from several noteworthy vineyards including the renowned Hilliard Bruce and Fiddlestix vineyards, the dramatic, steep and windswept slopes of John Sebastiano Vineyard which provide complexity from several different clones in several distinct microclimates, the brilliant Zotovich and La Rinconada vineyards and the fascinating new Pence vineyard. Each site is chosen to add complexity to the final blend, and is individually harvested after meticulous vineyard sampling and analysis. The grapes are hand harvested and sorted in the vineyard in the cold early mornings, destemmed without crushing (sometimes with partial whole clusters), given a 4-7 day cold soak, carefully fermented (native yeast where possible), drained and pressed straight to barrel. After 15 months aging in barrel, without racking, the wine is painstakingly blended for complexity and balance and then bottled without filtration.
Our Tasting Note: On the nose, the wine is dramatic, combining large scaled black cherry, raspberry and kirsch notes with vanilla, cocoa, baking spices and hints of fresh herbs and nori. On the palate the wine is full bodied but measured, marked by waves of ripe fruit (fresh and preserved cherries and rhubarb) intermixed with notes of vanilla, caramel and fresh and dried herbs (bay leaf, tarragon) and pine. Fresh acids give the wine energy and lift, before handing it off to ample tannins for a long, velvety-textured and satisfying finish.
2010 Seven, Central Coast
This wine is a Rhone blend of Syrah, Grenache & Mourvedre. It comes from Seven spectacular vineyards and the hands of Seven people. Predominantly from Syrah, it represents a blend of wines from truly outstanding vineyards from diverse locations, each adding complexity and interest to the final bland. The Syrah was aged in oak barrels (50% new) for 22 month before we blended in small amounts of Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier for additional complexity and bottled without filtration. Although an infant, it is already starting to show off its aromatics (black fruits, meat and effusive floral notes (roses)), with plenty more to come.
Our Tasting Note: Explosive aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry and grape jam, framed by deeply pitched notes of asphalt, peat, bitter walnut, and pine, along with animal scents of smoked and dried meats and rare beef. In the mouth the wine is full bodied and bracing, with blackberry fruits, creosote and dried herbs lifted by a solid spine of brisk acids and large scaled fruit and wood spiced tannins, promising a long life ahead in the bottle.
2010 MJM, Santa Ynez Valley
As most of you know, MJM is the cornerstone of our Rhone program. It is the most penetrating and ageworthy of the Syrahs we make and therefore we dedicate it to our wives, Mitchi, Jen and Michelle. Unlike prior years, the cool 2010 vintage gave wines for more upfront fruit and softer tannins, and therefore, we bottled the wine after 22 months in barrel (approximately 37% new). We added splashes of Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier for complexity. We have been sold out of MJM for a long time, and we are thrilled to have it back. As always, this wine is extremely limited and likely to sell out quickly.
Our Tasting Note: The 2010 MJM is at once more effusive and more elegant than the 2010 Seven. A higher percentage of Ballard Canyon fruit gives this wine a sexy, voluptuous and plusher red and black fruit character, with boysenberries and sweet raspberry kirsch notes mingling with fresh and dried meats, bacon and wood smoke. On the palate the wine is decidedly full bodied; waves of fresh and preserved black and red fruits are wrapped in a silky robe, with hints of fresh herbs, spices and a chalky minerality. Buried beneath the fruit is a strong yet supple and balanced tannic structure, perfect for extended aging.
Note: the following wines are sold out and no longer available.
2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon
The Happy Canyon bottling is a blend of grapes from Vogelzang (55%) and Grassini (45%). The wine was fermented and aged on its lees for 11 months in 85% neutral oak barrels and 15% in stainless steel barrels. The wine demonstrates the classic Vogelzang tropical fruit notes along with the elegant energy of the Grassini vineyard and great body and length. Goes with everything, and nothing. We think this wine improves significantly upon the 2010 Santa Ynez Valley bottling, which received glowing review and 91 points in several publications.
Our Tasting Note: Aromas of mango, guava, cantaloupe, white peaches, fresh pineapple and lemon curd are complicated by chalky minerals, floral notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom and geranium, and spice notes of fresh ginger, bay leaf and clove. The palate is substantial, with medium to full bodied flavors of peach, melon, pineapple and kiwi fruits that build with air and turn gently creamy. The wine finishes long, with ripe, yet assertive acidity, framed by distinctive, lime and lemon tinged citrus notes and hints of minerals and sea spray.
2011 Pinot Noir, Radian Vineyard
Radian vineyard is located at the far western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills on dramatically steep slopes with large amounts of diatomaceous earth in the soil. This extreme site is regularly buffeted by high winds, cooling the vineyard and robbing it of moisture. The vines here struggle to set fruit, and only a tiny crop of small clusters are able to ripen. In 2011 the average yield was no more than .4 tons per acre, making the wine scarce. The cold site produces wines that are lean and intense, with a fascinating mineral streak and a remarkable depth of flavor even at low alcohol levels. This wine was aged in two neutral French oak barrels and promises to improve for several years.
Our Tasting Note: A dynamic, yet intense nose is highlighted by strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and Rainier cherries, complicated by citrus notes (orange peel), anise, sweet tarragon, cloves and cardamom. The wine is elegant and focused on the palate, as waves of fresh ripe fruits and hints of preserves mingle together with earth notes in a medium bodied package. The wine is intriguing and complex, as it is amply supported by round, ripe acids and noticeable but pliant tannins. Extremely limited, only 48 cases made.
2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Grassini Family Vineyard
A small production, reserve level blend of our favorite lots coming off the Grassini vineyard. This extremely limited, 125 case bottling is a blend of 5 barrels of wine; one stainless steel, three neutral French oak and 1 new. The wine is incredibly complex, built in a more mineral style, but with plenty of green spectrum fruits, spice and great length. It has been a big hit with all who have tasted it. It will sell out quickly, so act fast.
Our Tasting Note: This wine displays fruit aromas of honeydew, green apple, yellow watermelon, and fresh coconut flesh, along with floral and herbal notes of white flowers, mint, lavender, fresh tarragon, bay leaves, and hints of balsa wood and bright green grass. As the wine opens it further displays fig, white peach, mint and a resinous note of basil. In the mouth, the wine is medium to full bodied showing riper melon (cantaloupe, honeydew), white nectarine, and creamy key lime and lemon meringue, with complicating tones of raw almond, hazelnut, cardamom and clove.
2011 Pinot Noir, Ampelos Vineyard
Ampelos vineyard is carefully managed using organic, biodynamic and sustainable practices. The vineyard is located on the north and west sloping hillsides at the eastern end of the cool Sta. Rita Hills Appellation. Ampelos gets early morning cooling breezes and fog from both its proximity to the Santa Rosa corridor and the Hwy 246 corridor. Just 80 cases produced. If you were on the fence about joining the wine club, this wine should push you over. We wish we had more!
Our Tasting Note: This wine is deeply pitched with classic black cherry and red fruits, intermingled with notes of warm earth and forest floor, fresh herbs (sweet tarragon, bay leaf), gentle black tea, citrus (orange peel), chalky minerals and cardamom, framed by gentle oak and sandalwood. On the palate the wine is medium bodied with tart red cherry and high toned strawberries, blood oranges and discreet hints of tea, smoke and pine. The wine has a solid acid and tannic structure, leading to long, bracing finish.
2010 Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Santa Barbara County
This wine is a blend of top sites in Santa Barbara County: Thomson, Watch Hill and McGinley. We personally hand sorted the fruit in cool early morning picks. Within hours, we processed the fruit; a portion of the whole clusters was placed directly into 1.5 ton fermenters, and the rest was destemmed, leaving whole berries. The fruit was cold soaked for for 5-10 days, then fermented, largely with native yeasts, using a combination of pumpovers and punchdowns to gently extract maximum flavor and complexity. At dryness, the wines were pressed to barrels and puncheons and aged on their lees for 16 months.
Our Tasting Note: Aromas of dusty plum, black cherry, blueberries, cocoa, mint/menthol mingle with with hints of leather and tar. On the palate, the wine features broad, mouthcoating fruit flavors of dried cherry, kirsch and sweet dried herbs, richly textured, with present, yet velvety smooth tannins that provide structure for a long finish.
2010 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
This wine is a blend of top sites in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, where foggy mornings give way to windy afternoons with brilliant sunshine, perfect for Pinot Noir. This wine is composed of grapes from the dramatic, steep and windswept slopes of John Sebastiano Vineyard, with some additions from Cargasacchi, Fiddlestix, La Encantada and Zotovich. The grapes are hand harvested and sorted in the vineyard in the cold early mornings, destemmed without crushing, given a 4-7 day cold soak, carefully fermented (native yeast where possible), drained and pressed straight to barrel. After 15 months aging in barrel, without racking, the wine is painstakingly blended for complexity and balance.
Our Tasting Note: The dramatic nose combines spicy dark black cherry and red raspberry notes with vanilla, cocoa, nutmeg and hints of fresh herbs. On the palate this fairly full bodied wine is substantial but measured, combining waves of fully ripe fruit (fresh and preserved cherries (Luxardo) and sweet raspberries) with hints of chocolate and brown sugar. Fresh ripe acidity and serious but pliant tannins result in a long, velvety-textured and satisfying finish. Pair with grilled lamb or beef, mushrooms, or savory sauced pork dishes.
2010 Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard
The famed Fiddlestix vineyard performed terrifically in the tricky 2010 vintage. For the past several years, we have selected clones 113 and 115 from particularly well situated blocks in this expertly managed vineyard. The 113 gives spice and high toned red fruits, the 115 a deeper darker classic black cherry fruit with great structure. With partial whole cluster fermentation and 33% new French oak adding complexity, this wine has all the stuffing to improve for several years in bottle. Compared to the 2009 this wine is more vivacious and exuberant early on, showing lots of rich fruit flavors.
Our Tasting Note: On the nose, the wine shows classic Fiddlestix red fruits (cranberry, raspberry and candied cherry) with spice cake, a touch of cocoa and some minty herbal notes from the whole clusters. The palate is medium to full bodied, but never heavy, as classic Sta. Rita Hills black cherry, hints of cola and baking spices envelope ripe and refreshing acidity, and solid balancing tannic structure.
2010 Pinot Noir, “Black Label”
A remarkable blend of our best barrels of 2010, this is destined to the best Pinot we have made to date. The wine is comprised of 2 barrels of Cargasacchi Santa Rita Hills clone 115, 1 of Fiddlestix clone 115 and one barrel of La Encantada clone 667. The La Encantada barrel (new Francois Freres) was so deep, concentrated and complex that we simply had to consider making a reserve level wine. Blending trials confirmed that it married perfectly with Cargasacchi, and the addition of the spicy, higher toned Fiddlestix made it even better. This is the MJM of Pinot Noir, and so it received the Black Label.
Our Tasting Note: The deepest and darkest of our 2010 Pinot Noirs, the young wine is still tightly coiled, presently displaying only hints of its ultimate potential. Initially, shy, with air, the wine delivers a rich and suave panoply of deep, dark black cherry flavors, complicated by creamy raspberry, vanilla, cocoa, and nutmeg. On the palate the wine is substantial, yet silky smooth, deep and concentrated, giving the taster copious amounts of sweet black cherry laced with black licorice, and hints of coffee, chocolate and vanilla. The rich complex flavors are perfectly balanced by ripe acidity and a firm yet pliant tannic structure, resulting in a long, velvety-textured and satisfying finish. This wine will age gracefully for several years.
2010 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
Speaking of Pinot Noir, we made a tiny amount of Rosé from the saignee of our fantastic 2011 Pinots. Juice is pulled from the fermenters after 24 hours of skin contact, transferred to neutral barrels and fermented to complete dryness.
Our Tasting Note: The nose features robust notes of watermelon, earthy wild strawberry, floral tones of violet and lavender, and a touch of tangerine citrus. Light and refreshing, yet substantial and complex in the mouth with fresh cherry, apple, pear, and strawberry fruits, complicated by light cola notes. The wine finishes with a burst of mouthwatering acidity and solid length.
2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley
As with the 2009, this is s a blend of grapes from Vogelzang, Grassini and Refugio Ranch, fermented and aged on its lees in 40% barrel and 60% stainless steel tanks. 2010 was a super cool year, and so we picked a full 2 weeks later than in 2009 to obtain sufficient ripeness, while retaining dynamic energy from proper acidity.
Our Tasting Note: Aromas of pear, mango, clementine, melon, cantalope and lemon mingle with ginger, gentle herbs, wet stones and crushed seashells. On the palate, the wine is crisp and refreshing, with grapefruit, citrus, white peach, mango, fresh cut pineapple, floral notes and a sensation of liquid minerals which build with air. The wine is medium bodied, turning gently creamy on the long finish, which features a distinctive minerality and citrus-tinged acidity.
2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
A small production, reserve level blend of our favorite barrel fermented and aged lots, this wine combines grapes roughly half and half from Vogelzang and Grassini. Barrel aging and occasional lees stirring, gives this wine heightened richness, while still representing the cool, minerally, energetic nature of this historically cool year. Only 275 Cases Produced.
Our Tasting Note: Terrific complexity on the nose with grapefruit and clementine citrus tones complemented by riper notes of pineapple. There’s a lovely saline tone (reminiscent of sea breeze) which evolves to include notes of honeycomb and vanilla custard. In the mouth, the wine is medium bodied showing plenty of melon, pear, and guava with great citrus acidity balanced by a soft, creamy finish.
2009 Seven, Central Coast
This wine is a Rhone blend of Syrah, Grenache & Mourvedre. It comes from Seven spectacular vineyards and the hands of Seven people. Predominantly from Syrah, the Seventh most widely planted grape in the world, it is more than just Syrah, it represents an apogee of our goals as winemakers; we help tend the finest vineyards and hand pick the best barrels for the wine, we pour all our knowledge and labor into its elevage, and we patiently wait for two years until the wine was perfectly ready for bottling. We are extremely proud of this wine, of which we only made 425 Cases.
Our Tasting Note: The nose features an intense red and blue fruit profile of plum, blueberry, and raspberry, along with baking and Asian spices such as star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice and white pepper, floral notes of lavender and jasmine and earthy notes of forest floor, iron/clay minerality, pine and creosote. In the mouth, the wine is medium to full bodied, with succulent, juicy blueberry and blackberry flavors, dark chocolate tones and savory hints of dried and fresh meats (bacon, salami with herbs and pepper). At once dense and intense, the wine is also fresh, pure, seamless and velvety as ripe, silky tannins and finely detailed acidity provide a long satisfying finish.
2011 Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley
In 2011 we selected precise vineyard blocks for red grapes that would be used specifically for this wine. After a long cool growing season, we harvested (with field sorting as always) Grenache and Mourvedre and whole cluster pressed the grapes over a long slow press cycle to provide just the right amount of skin contact while gently extracting maximum flavors. We added 5% Syrah, which had been bled off the Syrah fermenters, for additional complexity and body. We think this is the best Rosé we have made to date (the competition is fierce), as the juiciness of the Grenache and the complex, wild red fruits and orange zest of the Mourvedre work perfectly together in 2011.
Our Tasting Note: Aromas of raspberries, strawberries and orange peel, with a touch of sweet fresh herbs. On the pal¬ate, the wine delivers exuberant, fresh, red fruits, citrus and glycerin, complicated by cranberry notes. the wine has a lively, expressive texture followed by a lip-smacking, palate-cleansing acidity which delivers fine length and complexity.
2010 Pinot Noir, Presidio Vineyard
We only put this at the end because it is a miniscule production wine (only 50 cases made), and most of it is gone already. Yields of 0.6 tons per acre (crazy we know), the wine is intense and juicy. The 2009 got a great review and 92 points from Antonio Galloni in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. We think the 2010 is equally as good, perhaps even a bit more lush, with sweet dark red and black cherry aromas and flavors, a well integrated dash of sweet vanilla from the 50% new oak, and a gentle note of anise and bay leaf. The wine is already starting to drink well, but will reward another 2-5 years in bottle as well.
2009 Grenache, Santa Barbara County
The beautiful clusters of Thompson Grenache were largely destemmed (about 20% was left whole cluster), then fermented in open top fermenters (a mix of pumpovers and punchdowns) and raised in a mixture of 500L puncheons and small barriques for 16 months. These puncheons were often the “ooh” barrels in the cellar (and we “sometimes” snuck some out to take home and “sample” with the wives). In 2009 we also had Grenache from the nearby Watch Hill Vineyard (we get their lovely Syrah as well), which was completely destemmed. To add complexity in the final wine, we blended the Grenache with 20% Syrah (also from Watch Hill) and 5% Mourvedre (from McGinley Vineyard) and then bottled the wine without filtration. 200 Cases Produced.
Our Tasting Note: The wine displays classic Grenache aromas of sweet red raspberry, strawberry and kirsch complemented by notes of pine, menthol, anise and gentle, fresh herbs. On the pal¬ate, the wine combines waves of expressive, high-toned red fruits, along with streaks of creosote, and leathery herbal notes in a pure, expressive, medium-bodied package. The wine’s finely textured fruits are lifted and maintained through a long finish by ripe acidity and firm, yet complex and spicy tannic structure, which will also provide for aging potential.
2008 MJM, California
2008 MJM is comprised of Syrah grapes from several cooler climate vineyards: Los Tres Burros in Los Alamos Valley, Shadow Canyon Vineyard in York Mountain, and Paderewski vineyard in West Paso Robles. These spectacular, ultra low-yielding vineyards produced grapes of incredible depth and intensity. Due the incredible intensity of these grapes we felt it appropriate to age them for an extended period in a significant percentage (approx. 86%) of new French oak barrels and Puncheons (coopers: Sylvain, Ermitage, Radoux, Seguin Moreau). Each lot was fermented and aged separately for 22 months before being selected for the MJM blend. The wines were then blended (including additional varietals) and aged 4 additional months before bottling without fining or filtration. 175 Cases produced.
Our Tasting Note: On the nose, the wine demonstrates its serious purpose, displaying deep and serious, yet wildly exuberant and large-scaled aromas of dark black and blue berries, complimented by fresh vanilla, cacao, cedar and other lighter, toasted wood spices and hints of raw meat and black olives. The wine is full in the mouth, delivering a torrent of fresh and dried blackberries, blueberry and kirsch, spiced with vanilla. The finish is long, creamy and substantial, lingering on the palate due to the solid but ripe tannins and round acidity.
2009 Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard
The grapes for this wine were harvested in the early morning hours, and we personally hand-sorted the clusters in the vineyard to remove unripe or damaged clusters and leaves. The grapes were processed within two hours of harvest as follows: 70% of the fruit was destemmed without crushing and 30% of the fruit remained whole cluster. The grapes were placed in fermenters and cold soaked for 4 days before fermentation was allowed to commence with native yeasts. Fermentation lasted 14-18 days. At dryness, the free run juice was drained directly to barrel and the remaining berries were pressed in a small basket press and barreled separately. The wine was aged in French oak barrels, 33% new, for 18 months without racking and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. 175 Cases Produced.
Our Tasting Note: The nose is a fascinating combination of high-toned, ripe red fruits including cranberry and raspberry (from the clone 113), deep black cherry with cola (from the 115) and signature Fiddlestix baking spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie. Partial whole cluster fermentation adds complicating notes of pine, fresh bay leaf and nori (seaweed). On the palate this medium bodied wine gives substantial but measured amounts of fully ripe fruit (jammy raspberry, pomegranate, and cherries) and hints of vanilla, The solid acidity and ripe tannins provide ideal structure for a long (yet velvety) finish and a long life ahead.
2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley
In 2009 we obtained grapes from spectacular sites in the Santa Ynez Valley: Vogelzang and Grassini Family Vineyard in Happy Canyon, and an exciting new vineyard called Refugio Ranch, which is located along the northern slopes of the Santa Ynez Mountains. We harvested the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc in selective picks, carefully harvesting only the ripest clusters. We gently pressed the grapes then separately fermented the resulting juice in a mix of stainless steel tanks and French Oak barrels (5% new). The wine was aged its lees for 11 months prior to bottling. 600 Cases Produced.
Our Tasting Note: The nose is loaded with fresh and pure fruits of peach, apricot, pear, and quince along with creamy mango sherbet notes. The flavors build, and aromas of straw, wet stone, and fresh coconut emerge with a subtle smokiness and a salty sea-air freshness. In the mouth, the wine is powerful, with a nice mouth-coating glycerin and fruity richness. The flavors echo the abundant fruit found in the nose, and the wine finishes with gorgeous clean acidity and a refreshing kiss of honey. Exuberant, but light and fresh at the same time. Luscious and delicious!
The 2008 Syrah is comprised of grapes from several cooler climate vineyards: Watch Hill and Los Tres Burros in Los Alamos Valley and Shadow Canyon Vineyard in York Mountain, west of Paso Robles. 2008 was marked by a punishing early frost which lowered yields significantly. The vintage was generally quite cool with only short periods of intense heat and a long cool September. Our low yield philosophy was extremely helpful in 2008 as ripening less fruit is critical in cool years. The grapes for the 2008 Syrah were hand harvested and sorted in the cool early morning hours throughout late September and mid October, fermented separately, and aged on its less in barrel (30% new) for 22 months prior to bottling on August 20, 2010. 325 cases Produced.
Our Tasting Note: The wine delivers intense aromas of black and blue berries, vanilla, cedar and toasted wood spices intermixed with dried and raw meat notes. The wine is full in the mouth, unleashing a torrent of fresh blackberries, blueberry, and kirsch, with solid depth and concentration. A young wine, the tannins are present, but ripe and with fresh round acidity, they provide a positive structure, leading to a long finish. The Syrah would be best served with strongly flavored dishes of beef or game (venison comes to mind), with or without sauces (peppercorn or strong blue cheese). It’s good on its own too.
2010 Rosé Santa Ynez Valley
We sure love Grenache as a component for Rosé. In addition to the high toned red fruits, there are refreshing pine-like and mineral notes that give lift and complexity. Mourvedre adds slightly darker red fruits (sweet raspberry) and hints of herbs and tar. Darker still, Syrah provides body and weight. We crafted this Rose from a blend of saignee from our Syrah fermenters and whole cluster pressed Grenache and Mourvedre. We bottled it without fining or filtration, so it may throw a little sediment. We think it’s worth it for the flavors. 125 Cases Produced.
Our Tasting Note: Aromas of sweet raspberry, wild strawberry, orange peel and a touch of pine and herbs. On the pal-ate, the wine delivers an exuberant blast of high toned red fruits and glycerin, complicated by citrus and cranberry notes. Substantial in the mouth, the wine has a lively, expressive texture. On the finish, the wine completely dry, its bright and cheery red fruits held up by lip-smacking, palate-cleansing acidity. This wine is perfect with all manner of appetizers or small plates filled with energetic flavors, with a picnic or simply by itself outside in the summer sun.
2009 Pinot Noir Presidio Vineyard
Presidio is an ultra-low yielding, biodynamic vineyard west of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. Its super-cool climate and sandy soils really struggle to ripen the persnickety Pinot Noir, which is of course, great news for winemakers. The tiny bunches of grapes yield intense, spicy wines with great aromatics. This is going to be the connoisseur’s wine, and we only made 3 barrels of it, so know that it will not be around long. 75 Cases Produced.
Our Tasting Note: The wine introduces classic Pinot Noir aromas of black cherry, kirsch, and cola, complicated by notes of vanilla, cinnamon and herbs (bay leaves, lavender) and dark warm earth. On the palate the wine is medium bodied, matching deep black cherry fruits with high pitched red fruits. The wine is concentrated without heaviness, as lively acidity and tannic structure provides lift and focus. The texture and finish are exemplary. This deep and elegant Pinot Noir would be well-paired with sautéed wild mushrooms and/or grilled meats with medium rich sauces.
2009 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
In 2009 we worked with several fantastic vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills. La Encantada, planted by Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir pioneer Richard Sanford, is located on Santa Rosa Road, at the cool western margin of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, where foggy mornings give way to windy afternoons with brilliant sunshine, perfect for Pinot Noir. Kessler-Haak is a newer project located on Hwy 246 abutting Clos Pepe, growing tiny bunches of dark, expressive Pinot Noir. Cargasacchi-Jalama is located west and south of Santa Rita Hills, in the foggy, windswept, low-lying hills near the surging Pacific Ocean where low yields and intense Burgundian character are the norm. Clone 113 grapes from the famed Fiddlestix vineyard provide elegance and spice. The 2009 wines were aged on the lees in French oak barrels, 33% new, for 15 months and bottled unfined and unfiltered. 225 Cases Produced.
Our Tasting Note: The wine delivers serious, dark aromas of ripe, jammy and sexy black cherry and blueberry fruits, baking spices (cardamom, nutmeg) and a touch of vanilla. On the palate, the wine is medium to full bodied, muscular yet chiseled; flavors of ripe cherry, sweet cranberry and kirsch mingle with vanilla and espresso notes. The wine finishes long with pleasant acidity and ripe tannins.
2009 Pinot Noir Hilliard Bruce Vineyard
Hilliard Bruce is a fantastic new Pinot Noir project at the far western edge of the Santa Rita Hills appellation. The grapes are expertly farmed in a “no expense spared” manner and destined only for their soon-to-be-announced estate label and super-serious wineries like ourselves. Our blocks consisted of clones 115 and 777 from steeply sloped hillsides with well-drained sandy soils. The early morning fog and cool afternoon breezes provide the perfect climate for ripening the fickle Pinot Noir. The wine was aged in French oak barrels, 25% new, for 15 months and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. These were some of our favorite barrels in the cellar, matching deep blue and black fruit flavors with ultra-fine texture and ripe round tannins for a long smooth finish. 100 Cases Produced.
Our Tasting Note: The wine is exuberant and lively, delivering classic aromas of black cherry fruits, cola, baking spices (pumpkin pie, cinnamon), and sandalwood. On the palate, the wine is pure, silky and full bodied, giving the taster mouthwatering waves of ripe black cherry and other red fruits, kirsch and cola. The wine has a long sappy finish, as lift and a touch of grace is provided by acidity and soft tannins.
2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Vogelzang Vineyard
Vogelzang is situated on a gently sloping bed of well drained, gravelly loam soil. The fairly rich, nutritious soil produces healthy plants which are then carefully pruned, leafed and deficit-irrigated to focus the plant’s energy on fruit development. We purchase this fruit by the acre, permitting us to control the farming practices, limit yields, manage the canopy and harvest in selective picks.
We picked Vogelzang at first light in the cold morning hours, and we personally hand sorted the clusters in the field. Within hours, we gently pressed the grapes and transferred the juice directly to a mix of new and used French oak barrels (and a single once-used puncheon). Primary fermentation was completed with native and commercial yeasts and temperature control. We blocked malolactic fermentation and then aged the wine on its lees for 16 months. 100 Cases Produced.
Our Tasting Note: The wine shows intense aromas of tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, sweet pineapple and ripe melons complicated by creamy vanilla, baking spices and toasted brioche. On the palate the wine is rich, full bodied, and dynamic, as waves of tropical fruits turn to more fresh ripe melons and key lime pie. The wine’s round acidity gives a long, serious and penetrating finish.
2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
In 2009 we had the pleasure of working with some of the finest Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in Happy Canyon including a section of older vines at the Vogelzang vineyard, and the soon-to-be famous Grassini Family Vineyard. Our Happy Canyon bottling represents the best, most concentrated and distinctive Sauvignon Blanc we produced in 2009. The Happy Canyon bottling is a barrel selection of our favorite barrel fermented and aged Sauvignons from 2009. Fermented and aged in neutral French oak barrels, the wine was left on its lees for 11 months prior to bottling. 150 Cases produced.
Our Tasting Note: A striking pale gold color in the glass. The nose is intense and complex, featuring lovely scents of honey, sandalwood, clove and cardamom spice on top of rich fruit tones of fig, peach, and poached pear. All this is highlighted by a lovely floral component of orange blossom and white flowers with hints of truffle. In the mouth, the wine is deep and concentrated, with stone fruits, lime and ginger complemented by vanilla and hazelnuts. The wine features a toffee-like richness on the palate, with a lingering and refreshing finish.
2008 Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard
At the cool western end of the Sta. Rita Hills, Fiddlestix is ideally situated for Pinot Noir. We selected two blocks, consisting of clones 113 and 777. The 113 provides a nice bright cherry tone and spicy aromatic lift, while the 777 provides waves of darker fruit and structure.
Tasting Note: Bigger and weightier than its sibling, the wine provides classic aromas of black cherry and iron, with a dusting of baking spices. On the palate, the wine is full bodied and silky, with a nice balance between the waves of black cherry and blue fruits and the complimentary notes of cola, cinnamon, balsa-wood, leather and gently toasted vanilla. The wine is lifted by clean, round refreshing acidity and ripe tannic structure, leading to a long echoing finish. Pairing suggestions include wine-based stews, grilled beef or lamb, and hearty aged cheeses.
The 2007 MJM is a barrel select blend of our finest Rhone varietal wines, mostly Syrah. It is a blend of clones from several well-known vineyards including Shadow Canyon (in the cool York Mountain AVA west of Paso Robles), Watch Hill, and the biodynamic Demetria Estate (formerly known as Andrew Murray Vineyard).
Tasting Note: Large scaled, but incredibly light on its feet for such a big guy, never heavy or cloying. Intense aromas of black and blue berries, vanilla, cedar and other lighter, toasted wood spices are intermixed with dried and raw meat notes. The wine is full in the mouth, displaying, a torrent of fresh blackberries, blueberry, and kirsch in a creamy milk-shake-like mélange of flavors. The wine has great depth and concentration, lingering on the palate before the solid but ripe tannins and round acidity arrive to carry them through to the long distinguished finish. MJM would be best served with strongly flavored dishes of beef or game (venison comes to mind), with or without sauces (peppercorn, bordelaise) or strong blue cheese. It’s good on its own too. Of course, MJM would benefit from several years aging, if you could keep your hands off. We suggest buying several.
2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley
The debut. We bonded over a love of Didier Dagueneau’s famous Sauvignons and have spent the ensuing months and years comparing and contrasting the nuances found in white Bordeaux, Pouilly Fume and even the great sweet wines of Sauternes. We knew that Santa Barbara County was promising for Sauvignon Blanc, but how far could we take it if we pushed the envelope? For our wine, we obtained fantastic fruit from extremely low yields, fermented the lots in a mix of tank and barrel and bottled the resulting wine without filtration. This wine reflects its origins; it could only come from Southern California, the land of sunshine, groves of classic citrus fruits, tanned skin, crisp sea breezes, all existing on a bed of mineral-rich coastal soil.
Tasting Note: The Sauvignon Blanc combines the citrus-y (grapefruit, lime) energy of tank fermentation with the rich round tropical fruit (pineapples, melons) flavors developed in barrel (approximately 20% new). The wine is complex and serious, with good weight and balanced acidity, leading to a long finish. We think the wine is crisp enough to pair well with seafood, and substantial enough to pair with poultry or risotto.
Vineyard Sources: Grassini and Koehler. One of the newest vineyards in Happy Canyon (high density planting and exacting viticulture) meets one of the oldest in Foxen Canyon (dry farmed, naturally low yielding and complex).
2007 Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
Syrah was the first wine we made together. Syrah is one of the main reasons we fell in love with the Central Coast. Thanks to our vineyard contacts in the last few vintages we have gained access to fruit from some truly spectacular Syrah vineyards. We sign acreage contracts, allowing us to farm our vineyards to exacting specifications and to ensure low yield/high quality fruit.
Vineyard Sources: Watch Hill, Demetria, and Shadow Canyon. Syrah loves to be blended, with each vineyard, each block, each clone adding complexity and personality to the finished product.
Tasting Note: On the nose the wine delivers notes of freshly crushed blackberries, boysenberries, and blueberries, with a streak of vanilla, bacon fat and a pleasant earthiness. The palate is full bodied, without heaviness, opening as if a creamy blueberry milkshake, then moving into a nuttiness, followed by a note of pine and forest floor, and finishing with pleasant round black and blue fruit glycerin flavors balanced by acidity and fine length.
2008 Pinot Noir, Cargasacchi-Jalama Vineyard
On the lonely, foggy, windswept end of the continent lies the Jalama vineyard. This is grape growing on the edge. The grapes here struggle to ripen, and in the struggle, they develop terrific flavors while keeping a lithe texture and weight. This wine is a blend of Dijon clones 114 and 115, was fully destemmed, cold soaked for 7 days, fermented over a couple weeks and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, mostly neutral.
Tasting Note: An exuberant nose of red fruits, cranberry, strawberry and Ranier cherries with an interesting note of blood orange. On the palate, the flavors echo the aromas, cherries and raspberries, with a note of orange peel which blend seamlessly with minerals and a touch of earth Medium bodied and silky with terrific lift and refreshing acidity. The positive finish lingers; showing structure without weight. The wine is ideal with roasted poultry and/or vegetables, wild rice, or sautéed mushrooms.
2009 Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley
A blend of saignee and free run juice of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, this Rosé is made in the classic French style, albeit with a warmth and generosity that speaks to its California roots. We were thrilled to obtain some fantastic Grenache and Mourvedre in 2009, and they are ideal partners for Syrah in a Rosé.
Tasting Note: Aromas of red raspberry, strawberry and citrus. On the palate, the wine delivers a wave of fresh, exuberant red fruits, orange peel and the barest hint of pine (that is the Grenache speaking). The wine is substantial in the mouth, with lovely glycerin texture followed by a lip-smacking, palate cleansing acidity that delivers a long finish. The wine is perfect as an aperitif, paired with little bites (Greek olives), or even grilled seafood. Paella would be perfect.
2008 Rosé, Santa Ynez Valley
A blend of free run juice and saignee taken from our red grapes as they are cold-soaked, the 2008 Rosé screams to sit in a bucket of ice next to a pool, a beach or a picnic table. It loves the outdoors.
Tasting Note: Our rose is made in the French style: crisp and completely dry. A lovely light red hue in the glass, the wine is filled with aromas and flavors of light summer fruits including strawberry, kiwi, and watermelon. We like the rose as an aperitif, with lighter dishes or simply by itself on sunny days.
2007 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
Vineyard Sources: Rancho Las Hermanas (Formerly known as Gaia/Ashley’s) and Cargasacchi-Jalama.
Tasting Note: A beguiling nose of deep black cherry and iron, surrounded by fine truffle-and-anise laced spice draws interest. Swirling the glass reveals additional tones of cola, blueberries, and root beer. On the palate, the wine is full bodied and silky, nicely balanced between black cherry and blue fruits, gently toasty vanilla and clean, round refreshing acidity. The finish is long and seamless—with superfine tannins providing structure without weight. Today we would pair it with heartier braises and wine-based stews, duck and heavier, aged cheeses.
2007 Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County
Vineyard Sources: Cargasacchi-Jalama and Rancho Las Hermanas (Formerly known as Gaia/Ashley’s).
Tasting Note: Deep, saturated burgundy in color. On the nose, red fruits (strawberry and bing cherry) and citrus peel (orange) mingle with aromas of baking spices (allspice, cinnamon, and clove), fresh almond, cola and hints of vanilla. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied, with high toned strawberry and brambly red fruits, giving way to an earthy and spicy finish. Juicy and refreshing, it is best paired with simply prepared grilled meats, roast poultry and mushrooms.
2006 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills
Because we have been “under-the-radar”, we still have a few cases of 2006 Pinot Noir lurking in our cellar. The wine has been in the bottle a year and is really starting to strut its stuff, with new spices and nuances appearing every time we open a bottle. Give her some air before drinking, or keep for 3-5 more years.
Vineyard Sources: Fiddlestix and Gaia. The cool western edge of this renowned AVA produces wines of subtle spice and intricate balance.
Tasting Note: A vibrant garnet in the glass. The nose features a spicy blend of strawberries and cherries with cedar, juniper berries, and Asian spices. Delicate (this is pinot!), silky, and seductive in the mouth the flavors of crushed berries build into a mouth-coating, sappy, finish. The lingering cherry and cranberry notes beg for freshly grilled salmon or creamy potato gratin.
2005 Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
Vineyard Sources: Tierra Alta and Cuatro Vientos in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Tasting Note: The nose features classic cool climate syrah aromas of blackberry, blueberry, and dark chocolate with hints of bacon. The wine is well balanced in the mouth with a lush, almost creamy texture. Flavors echo the nose and build to include raspberry and a subtle dusty leather component which leads to a concentrated fruit driven finish.