Monthly Archives: May 2017

Tasting of Domaine de la Côte, with winemaker Sashi Moorman

In March I attended a wine tasting with Sashi Moorman at Arlequin Wine Merchant in San Francisco. Sashi had brought wine from three different labels where he is the wine maker. These are Sandhi, Domaine de la Côte and Evening Land Vineyards. The first two are based in Lompoc in Santa Barbara and the last is in Oregon.

In this post I just present notes for the Domaine de la Côte wines and I will later publish one from Sandhi and one from Evening Land where I also have visited.

Summary of impressions from Domaine de la Côte

The Pinot Noirs from Domaine de la Côte has intense, pure and rather dense fruit notes, but also a slight herbal and spicy expression. The texture is silky and smooth and they have nice acidity with some tension. These are very elegant and precise wines that can be enjoyed in their youth but also should have a long life ahead.

My favorite was the Bloom’s Field 2014.

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Tasting notes for Domaine de la Côte

2014 Domaine de la Côte Pinot Noir Estate Sta. Rita Hills

An abundance of strawberries but also some nice raspberry notes, combined with fresh menthol. Nice silky texture and a precise acidity on the palate. This is a precise and elegant Pinot Noir in a rather straight forward style.

2014 Domaine de la Côte Pinot Noir Bloom’s Field

100% whole clusters.

Pure fruit notes from raspberries and strawberries combined with some cherries on the nose. On the palate we also get orange peel and some fresh spices combined with a juicy lime acidity. I also find some earthy notes and smoke, especially in the finish. This Pinot Noir has both some energy and depth in a good balance.

2013 Domaine de la Côte Pinot Noir Bloom’s Field

Intense wine with an abundance of herbal notes, smoke, mushroom and dark fruit from boysenberries, cherries and blueberries. On the palate there are clear notes of eucalyptus and some oranges. The acidity is rather soft but still with some tension. This is a dense, complex and slightly heavy Pinot Noir.

2013 Domaine de la Côte Pinot Noir Memorious

50% whole cluster.

Nice red fruit from strawberries and raspberries combined with some darker cherries. On the palate there is a fresh lime acidity and some fine grained tannins but also some notes of pepper and herbs. Well balanced Pinot Noir that is already approachable.

Visit to Anthill Farms – A young producer that already have a dedicated fan base

Introduction to Anthill Farms

In March I visited Anthill farms during one of my day trips to Sonoma. Before this visits I had only tried two of their wines, both Pinot Noirs. The reason Anthill Farms ended up on my list of producers to visit is that they seem to have a very dedicated group of followers. Several persons have recommended their wines passionately and one person even gave me a bottle to taste.

This is a young producer, founded in 2004, which is part of the New California movement making wines that are less ripe and with a transparency towards vineyards and vintages. They use very little new oak, harvest relatively early and intervene as little as possible in the cellar.

Tasting notes for the wines from Anthill Farms

2015 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

40 percent whole clusters, no new oak and they have gone through a cold soak.

Fresh and juicy Pinot Noir with an abundance of bright red fruit where raspberries dominate. The acidity adds a coolness to a palate that is slim and precise. Some herbal notes appear both on nose and palate.

2015 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Harmony Lane Vineyard

This wine has two different styles; a rather fruit forward nose with quite ripe strawberries and raspberries, and a palate with a citric acidity that is slightly harsh at the moment. This results in a wine that is both generous and energetic, but at the moment it is not in perfect balance. There are also some bayleaf notes on both nose and palate.

2015 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Campbell Ranch Vineyard

Young red fruit, mainly from raspberries, combined with some eucalyptus notes results in a fresh expression. On the palate the wine gets some attitude with a tannic bite and some energetic acidity. I recognize this style from my tasting at Kutch wines. I think this wine will develop very good and if you are not sensitive to tannins and a sharp acidity it is a good food wine already today.

2015 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Peters Vineyard

From 30 year old vines.

Dense and layered fruit notes with blackberries, blueberries and an abundance of strawberries opens up this wine. On the palate a nice and precise acidity balances the fruit notes and we get a sandy tannic structure. The finish is mouthwatering and this wine is very approachable already now but should also have a long life ahead. Great wine.

2015 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Tina Marie Vineyard

Green valley. Fertile soil and high humidity.

Expressive nose with intense berry notes, mainly from dark berries, but some red also appear after a while. The acidity has some lemon notes and gets slightly harsh and they dominate the wine in the finish. This wine is not in perfect balance yet, but hopefully this will improve with some time.

2015 Anthill Farms Chardonnay Peugh Vineyard

This is an intense Chardonnay with an abundance of green apples, some stone fruit and fresh lime fruit. On the palate the lime fruit takes a more dominant position, especially in the fresh finish.

Summary of impressions from Anthill Farms

I am very impressed with the high and even quality level at Anhill farms. These are wines that are made to last and they will develop with time, still they are approachable and pleasant to drink already today.

The Pinot Noirs have pure and intense fruit notes that shows a rather dense profile on the nose, but then on the palate the acidity gives a more slim expression that stays is a fresh finish. The wines are more dense than I expected considering that this is a producer going for early harvest and lower alcohol levels. None of the wines have showed any signs of being under ripe. I look forward to tasting some of their wines with some more age.

I only tried one Chardonnay and it was fresh and energetic and reminded me of Chardonnay from Chablis.

My favorite wines in the tasting were the Pinot Noirs from Peters Vineyard and Campbell Ranch Vineyard

 

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Visit to Sanford Winery – with a treasure of vineyards

During my stay in Santa Barbara I visited the tasting room of Sandford Winery in the city center. This was not planned ahead so I did not book a meeting with anyone working with their vineyards of in their cellar. Still the tasting gave a good presentation of their wines and I was able to get answers to my questions about the wines.

Some short facts about how Sanford Winery produce their wines

Chardonnays:

  • They go through 100%  malolactic fermentation
  • Approximately 14-15 months in oak, of which 40-50% are new

Pinot Noirs:

  • Fermented in stainless steels
  • 100% whole clusters
  • 12 to 15 months in oak and approximately 40% new

Tasting notes for the wines from Sanford Winery

2013 Sanford Chardonnay La Rinconada Vineyard

14,5% alcohol and aged in 40% new oak.

Nice nose with apples and pears combined with pineapple, spices and hints of vanilla. Smooth on the palate with a careful but citric acidity, containing lemon and lime. The acidity gets more intense in the finish. This is a nice Chardonnay with some energy from the acidity and denseness in the fruit, but it lacks some elegance and precision for a top score.

2013 Sanford Chardonnay La Entrada

14,5% alcohol and aged in 40% new oak.

Green pear, apricot, spices and alcohol notes on the nose. Some juicy lemon acidity takes a dominant role on the palate. This is a juicy and rather fresh Chardonnay that unfortunately lacks some precision and focus, especially on the acidity.

2013 Sanford Viognier Sanford & Benedict Vineyard

Very fresh expression, especially for a Viognier. Some stone fruit, green apples and fresh white flowers. Soft and elegant on both nose and palate. Great balance on this rather slim Viognier.

2014 Sanford Pinot Noir La Rinconada Vineyard

Rather warm on the nose, with mainly red fruit from lingonberries and raspberries but also some dark blackberry notes appear. Dense and dark on the palate, especially compared with other Rinconadas I have tried. There are also some pepper notes. Acidity is good and with some lime notes.

2014 Sanford Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard

13 months in French Oak (40% new)

This wine has layers of fruit notes from boysenberries, strawberries and blueberries, but also some herbal notes adding a freshness. The palate is well balanced with a lime acidity and a velvety tannic structure. In the finish some spice notes also appear. This is a rather complex wine with good balance between the dense fruit and the acidity and structure.

Summary of impressions from visit to Sanford Winery

Sanford Winery own the famous Sanford & Benedict Vineyard and the La Rinconada Vineyard, ensuring them access to amazing fruit. They therefore have a very interesting line up of exciting wines. In general they are rather ripe and dense and show some oak notes.

The Pinot Noirs are rather dark and dense in their character with some notes of alcohol and pepper. The level of acidity is not super high but for the wines I tasted it was enough to create an ok balance.

The different white wines I tasted were quite different in style and my favorite was the Viognier that was surprisingly lively and energetic. The Chardonnays had potential, but I lacked some balance.

My favorites were the Sanford & Benedict Viognier and Pinot Noir, with the Chardonnay from La Rinconada not trailing far behind.

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Visit to LUTUM wines – Single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with strong character and sense of place

LUTUM wines is a cooperation between entrepreneur Bill Price and winemaker Gavin Chanin. They produce single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from quality vineyards in California and the ambition is to convey the terroir of the vineyards.

I tasted these wines together with a tasting of the Chanin wines, where Gavin also is the winemaker. You can read about the Chanin wines here.

A few short notes about how LUTUM produce their wines

  • They use only native yeast
  • In the cellar, gravity is used as much as possible in the process
  • The wines are 100% destemmed
  • They use a cold soak for 4-5 days
  • No other additives other than a small amount of SO2
  • No filtration
  • Aging in French oak, of which approximately 25% are new.
  • Grapes used: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Tasting notes for the wines from LUTUM

2014 Lutum Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard

Generous nose with notes of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries and a juicy palate where the dark fruit dominates. The tannic structure is sand and after a while some licorice and eucalyptus appear. Nice cool acidity to balance the darker notes in the wine.

2013 Lutum Pinot Noir Bien Nacido

Their Bien Nacido is from the older blocks in this huge vineyard that includes both sand and clay, and the latter dominated where this fruit is from.

Rather dark fruit notes from blackberries and blueberries but also some fresh raspberries. Similar on the palate where we also get a nice and precise acidity, some earthy notes and hints of oak and in the finish the alcohol comes through slightly. I would wait a while before opening this wine but the potential is good.

2014 Lutum Chardonnay Durell Vineyard

An abundance of green apples and lime on both nose and palate. The acidity is juicy and the fruit is slightly more ripe on the palate where there also are some slight oak notes. This is a rather classical Chardonnay but with a fresh juicy expression.

Summary of impressions from the visit to LUTUM

The Pinot Noirs from LUTUM wines show dark fruit notes, spices and sometimes licorice and hints of oak. This could result in a rather heavy profile on the wines but they are nicely balanced by a racy and precise acidity. My impression is that these wines will need some time to integrate and smoothen the edges, but the potential is great. The Pinot Noirs are also very different depending on vineyard, especially since grapes are sourced from both Sonoma Coast and Santa Barbara county.

This is an interesting producer with quality wines with both strong character and ageability.

You can also follow me on Instagram: @ultimatewinekick and Twitter on @uwk_andreas