Tag Archives: Santa Barbara

Tasting of Sandhi Wines, 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.

I have previously posted my notes about Domaine de la Côte and you can read these here.

In this post I just present notes for the Sandhi and I will later publish a post from Evening Land where I also have visited.

Impressions of the wines from Sandhi Wines

The Chardonnays I have tried from Sandhi Wines have showed a rather broad spectrum of expressions, but there are some common denominators, like the citric and sometimes racy acidity. The fruit notes have showed everything from slim and citric styles to more ripe tropical fruit. In some of the wines we also get some oak notes. I think the difference in styles are partly related to the difference in terroir and partly to the adaptation of winemaking style that Sashi often makes for his different vineyards.

In general I think the wines are of good quality and I like the acidity and juiciness.

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Tasting notes for the wines from

2014 Sandhi Wines Chardonnay Santa Barbara Country

Slim nose with some lime and apples. Rather mineral on the palate with a precise acidity and some stone fruit and zesty lime and lemon. Fresh and energetic Chardonnay with a mouthwatering finish.

2014 Sandhi ‘Sandford & Benedict’ Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

Fermentation and ageing in a mix of new and neutral oak for 12 months and then it spends 6 months in stainless steel.
There is a lot of tropical fruit with mainly pineapple and some stone fruit. The fruit is riper on the palate where we also get some flint and oak notes. The acidity is racy and mouthwatering and stays in a long finish together with the pineapples. A generous but also energetic Chardonnay.

2014 Sandhi Wines Chardonnay Rita’s Crown

Very fresh and citric nose and palate with lemon and lime dominating but also some young tropical fruit, mainly from stone fruit. The palate is juicy and mouthwatering. This is a nice, juicy and rather zesty Chardonnay.

2014 Sandhi Wines Chardonnay Bentrock

Initially the nose is very dominated by popcorn and flint notes but then some young tropical fruit and lemon appear. The fruit stays on the palate which is rather juicy and citric. The wine has a slim profile and and a nice acidity. I would recommend opening the bottle a while before drinking.

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.

You can also follow me on Instagram: @ultimatewinekick and Twitter on @uwk_andreas for more frequent updates.

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 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.

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

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

Visit to Tyler wines – Wines from Burgundian varieties with attitude and energy

Tyler Winery was not a producer I knew about when I went to Santa Barbara, but their name kept being mentioned when I spoke to different people in the business, especially when I described my preferences.

Tyler Winery sources all their grapes today, but they recently purchased some land and have planted 26 acres, so they will make estate bottling in the future. When sourcing fruit they look for close cooperation with the growers and they specifically search for vineyards with old vines.

Today they produce approximately 5000 cases in 12 different bottlings.

In the tasting I tried three Chardonnays and four Pinot Noirs, all but one was from the 2015 vintage.

Some short facts about Tyler Winery

Chardonnays

  • All Chardonnays go through malolactic fermentation.
  • Natural fermentation
  • Fermented in barrels
  • Minimal stirring of the lees.
  • Aging: Approximately 20 percent new oak for 10-12 months.

Pinot Noirs

  • Open top fermenters
  • Natural fermentation
  • 15-20 percent stems.
  • No cold soak or extended masceration.
  • Aging: 15-20 percent new oak. 10-12 months.

Tasting notes for the wines from Tyler Winery

 

2015 Tyler Chardonnay Dierberg Vineyard

Pineapple, flint and yellow apples on both nose and palate. The palate is rather tight with young fruit and a racy citric acidity, mainly from lemon. This wine is slightly dominated by lemon notes on the palate today but with time this should calm down.

2015 Tyler Chardonnay Zotovich Family Vineyard

Fresh wine with a nice minerality and some young stone fruit, apricot and a hint of yeast notes. The palate is slim and has a razor sharp lime acidity and again some green apples. This wine has an energetic expression and an amazing precision. Makes me think of Chablis.

2015 Tyler Chardonnay La Rinconada

Rather shy nose but still with some layers in the fruit notes with soft tropical fruit and lime. Will probably open up more with some time. The acidity is citric and juicy in the expression and on the palate we also get som peach and minerals. This is a pretty and elegant Chardonnay.

2015 Tyler Pinot Noir Block Five Dierberg Vineyard

Rather dense and dark fruit notes with blackberries and blueberries, but also an abundance of herbal notes. Slight sweetness on the palate combined with some dark minerals, cherries and spices. This is a dense and dark pinot noir but still with a coolness and rather herbal expression.

2015 Tyler Pinot Noir Bentrock

This wine has a dense and chewy profile but without sweetness and jammy notes. There are also some earthy notes and mushrooms combined with some dark minerals and herbs. The tannic structure has firmness and the acidity is cool and well needed to make sure the wine stays energetic. This is a very dense and complex Pinot Noir, especially considering that this is a producer that avoids overripe fruit.

2015 Tyler Pinot Noir La Encantada

Fresh fruit from both red and dark fruit where the red fruit is young and fresh. I get raspberries and strawberries combined with some cherries but also some sweet notes from marzipan. The acidity is slightly citric and there are some velvety tannins. For a dense wine it has a rather fresh expression and some herbal notes appear in the finish.

2014 Tyler Pinot Noir Old Vine Bien Nacido Vineyard

This wine has a very Burgundian profile with restrained but fresh fruit, mainly from raspberries, but also some earthy notes. The texture is extremely silky with a precise but careful acidity that adds a coolness to the wine, especially in the finish. This is a very well balanced wine that should develop beautifully with age.

Summary of impressions from Tyler Winery

My impression of Tyler Winery is that they produce great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but that these wines need some time in the bottle to calm down. Today the 2015s have some rough edges, but they show good potential, so some patience will pay off. It should also be mentioned that I tried these wines when they were babies.

The 2015 Pinot Noirs from Tyler have dark and dense fruit notes, but not jammy or sweet, and some of them have a touch of earthiness. The fruit gets balanced by a fresh acidity, making sure the wines are never overpowered. With this denseness combined with a rather low alcohol level I would have guessed they had extra time for extraction before or after the fermentation, but this is not the case. I like the complexity of the wines and they will be interesting to follow when they age.

The Chardonnays have a very acidic profile with an abundance of citrus, making them juicy and mouthwatering. The fruit notes are rather careful and there are some mineral notes in some of the wines.

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

Visit to Chanin Wine – Silky and elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Santa Barbara

During our short stay in Santa Barbara county, Chanin Wine was one of the producers I really wanted to taste, since I have been impressed with their wines before. During the visit we also tried their “sister winery”, LUTUM, but I will make a separate post about those wines.

Chanin Wine source all their grapes and they are working with vineyards that are farmed organic or sustainably and have older vines. The winemaker Gavin Chanin is definitely a rising star in the region and he focuses on making elegant wines with good balance.

A few short notes about how Chanin Wine produce their wines

  • The only use native yeast
  • Use gravity as much as possible in the process
  • Their Pinot Noirs include approximately 20% new stems
  • 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 15% are new.

Tasting notes for the wines from Chanin Wine

2014 Chanin Pinot Noir Los Alamos Vineyard

Los Alamos is their warmest vineyard with a dominance of sand. Planted in 1969.

Fresh red fruit with a dominance of strawberries initially but then some darker fruit appear on the palate together with some notes of smoke and spices. There is a citric acidity and the texture is smooth. This generous Pinot Noir has a juicy expression with strawberry dominance.

2013 Chanin Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard

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.

Nice red fruit from raspberries and wild strawberries and with a slightly sweet touch. Some spices and smoke appear on the palate together with a soft but precise acidity and a very silky tannic structure. In the finish the fruit gets darker and more dense. This is a well balanced and elegant Pinot Noir that is easy to enjoy.

2014 Chanin Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard

Pure red fruit of raspberries and wild strawberries but also some floral notes. On the palate we get asian spices and minerals together with the young red fruit. Acidity is very precise and cool which gives the wine a fresh finish. This is a beautiful wine that drinks well already but should develop great with age.

2014 Chanin Pinot Noir La Rinconada Vineyard

Very close to Sanford & Benedict but cooler and more exposed to wind.

Light red fruit and some lime notes on this pretty and elegant nose. On the palate some asian spices appear together with a precise acidity and very silky tannins. This is such an enjoyable wine with the silky texture and the pure fruit. Hard to stop drinking.

2014 Chanin Chardonnay Los Alamos Vineyard

This wine opens up with ripe pear notes and tropical fruit and on the palate a rather racy lime acidity results in a mouthwatering expression. This is a ripe Chardonnay with a rather high alcohol level, but still there is some energy in the acidity which makes it a very nice wine.

Summary of impressions from the visit to  Chanin Wine

The Pinot Noirs from Chanin are very elegant and have a silky and smooth mouthfeel but also a precise and fresh acidity. The fruit is mainly young, red, slightly sweet and accompanied by asian spices. The density of the wines are rather different depending on vineyard and vintage, as expected, with the La Rinconada being very light and the Sanford & Benedict having a rather dense profile, even though these vineyards are neighbors. Their Los Alamos Chardonnay manages to combine a generous and round expression with a rather racy citric acidity.

Chanin is definitely one of the top producers in Santa Barbara county, especially if you are looking for wines with precision and elegance.

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