2022 Spring Release

Pinot Noir is Back!

Yes, folks, we know that you all have been waiting for the new releases of 2020 Pinot Noirs. The terrific 2019’s sold out quickly, so you will not want to wait to get the 2020’s.

2020 was a miracle vintage in Santa Barbara, as we dodged the heat waves and firestorms that engulfed most of the rest of the western US that year, and we managed to survive the various Covid 19 shutdowns of the Tasting Room, and our restaurant accounts. We spent a lot of extra time in the vineyards dropping fruit and at harvest sorting out heat damaged clusters, but the fruit that we brought to the winery was in great shape and made really terrific wines. We also have the last of the 2019’s, the great 2019 Black Label Pinot Noir, which is only available to the wine club, and the new 2020 Chardonnay Sta Rita Hills. You will want to join the wine club to get access to this super small production wines.

The Wines

2020 Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills

The 2020 Chardonnay was crafted from grapes from Rita’s Crown (Clones 76 & 95) (85%) and Duvarita (Clones 548 and 76) ( 15%).  The wine marries the taut tropical fruit and chalky minerals from Rita’s with the open knit, fresh fruit, and rocks from the sandy Duvarita.

2020 was aiming to be a classic cool climate year, until a series of punishing heat waves hit beginning in mid August. Fortunately, each heat wave was interspersed with cool periods which allowed the vines to reset. We picked the Chardonnay in between the heat waves, beginning in mid to late September under ideal (cool, foggy) conditions. The wine was fermented and aged on its lees in French oak barriques (5% new), with partial malolactic fermentation occurring spontaneously in barrel. The resulting wine is aged for 16 months on its lees without stirring, before selection, blending and bottling. This is a decidedly cooler climate Chardonnay, with terrific acids and minerality which lifts the ripe tropical fruit flavors, giving a very long finish. We love the complexity and energy of this wine. This wine is not yet rated, but the 2019 was rated 94 points by the Wine Advocate and 93 points by both Jeb Dunnuck and Antonio Galloni.

Extremely limited. Only 160 cases produced.

2020 Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills

An appellation blend in name only, this wine is crafted from several of the finest vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills, including Radian (44%), Bentrock (42%), Spear (6%) Fiddlestix (3%), Duvarita (3%) and La Rinconada (2%). Each of the blocks we farm in these Pinot Noir vineyards is individually managed to ensure the highest quality fruit at harvest time, the dates for which are selected after multiple, often daily visits to the vineyards, meticulous sampling and extensive tasting.  We ferment each block with native yeasts, and then separately barrel each lot into the finest French oak cooperage, 3 percent of which is new. The wines are aged on their lees for 15 months, and then blended and bottled without filtration.

With this careful attention to detail throughout the season and in the cellar, the wines display great depth and concentration, with beautiful texture from lees aging and minimal handling. For the Sta Rita Hills appellation blend, we select wines for their complexity, bright expression, cheery personality, and food friendliness. The 2020 has begun drinking very well, right out of the gate, with complex red and blue fruits, a touch of minerals, baking spices, fresh herbs and forest floor, along with great natural acidity.

Not yet rated, the 2019 SRH Pinot Noir was rated 94 by the Wine Advocate, 93 by Jeb Dunnuck and 92 by Galloni.

Limited. 800 cases produced…for the world.

2020 Pinot Noir, Duvarita Vineyard (Santa Barbara County) – WINE CLUB ONLY

Duvarita Vineyard, just west of the Santa Rita Hills appellation lies on south-facing slopes of almost pure sand. The grapes here are farmed biodynamically. The low vigor soils, small canopy, and a low fruit zone combine to make this one of the lowest yielding and earliest ripening vineyards we farm. The small clusters here give wines that are lean and elegant, with terrific intensity, minerality and a remarkable depth of flavor even at lower alcohol levels.

The 2020 was another low yielding year at Duvarita. Yields were limited by uneven set and the cool vintage meant that the grapes were not ready to be harvested when we were pummeled with a mid-August heat wave, which caused some dehydration as well. The very small crop we did harvest though had remarkably good acidity and concentration. The wine was aged on its lees for 16 months in French oak barrels (25% new) and bottled unfiltered.

Extremely Limited. Only 190 cases produced. This wine is reserved for Wine Club Members only.

2019 Pinot Noir Black Label, Sta. Rita Hills – WINE CLUB ONLY

This wine is a rigorous selection of our most dramatic, flavorful and expressive barrels in the cellar. Due to their intensity and extract, these barrels receive the longest barrel aging regime of the Pinot Noirs, and the resulting structure makes them the longest lived of the Pinot Noirs as well. It is a special wine.

2019 was a classic cool-climate year in the Sta. Rita Hills, with a cool and even summer that provided great flavor and tannin development. The cool year further helped retain excellent acidity and kept sugars moderate, making for great balance. These wines should age very well on that balance and complexity.

The 2019 Black Label is comprised of grapes from Bentrock (46%), Fiddlestix (30%) Radian (24%). The grapes were harvested in small, careful picks with strict field sorting, before being largely destemmed (11% whole clusters), given a 2-4 day cold soak and carefully fermented with native yeasts and temperature control.  At dryness, the wine was transferred directly to the finest French oak cooperage (60% new, selected coopers) and aged on the lees for 19 months before selection, blending and bottling. The wine is expressive and had amazing textures and flavors with lots of fruit and great structure. It should age splendidly on its intensity and balance.  Drink 2022-2032+.

The 2019 wine has not yet been rated, but the 2018 version was highly rated, including 97 points by Jeb Dunnuck and 96 Points by Antonio Galloni. Jeb said, “One of the top wines in this report is the 2018 Pinot Noir Black Label, which is a cellar selection representing the best of the vintage…. I’d happily put this beauty in a blind lineup of top Grand Cru Red Burgundy. It offers a stunning array of black raspberry and redcurrant fruits as well as white pepper, black tea, flowers, and a kiss of background oak. Give bottles 2-4 years and enjoy over the following 15.” We think the 2019 is a worthy successor, though it will be gone before it is ever rated.

Only 300 cases made. This wine is available to the Wine Club only. Join the club to get access to this terrific wine!