D and I had a ball running around the Wine Cask's Santa Barbara County Futures event and tasting a good number of Wine Cask's extraordinary, hand-selected, soon-to-be-released wines from SB County. I was very impressed with the wines listed in their Futures catalog. Some of my favorites like Au Bon Climat and Carlson were in attendance. But I was so thankful to have found some new winemakers on Saturday.
Paul Lato: I've heard a lot about Paul Lato before the Futures tastings and I was incredibly excited that he was in attendance. Paul Lato is a passionate winemaker from Poland, who only selects his grapes from small, well-maintained vines in San Ynez and Santa Maria Valley. I admit, I wanted to love his wine for the kind of winemaker that he is. But after tasting his Pinot Noir and Syrah, I was convinced that his integrity in winemaking is beautifully apparent in each sip. I don't want to overhype Paul Lato's wines, but both his Pinot Noir and Syrah are beautiful. His 2005 Duende Gold Coast Vineyard Pinot Noir had a great medium-body, cool freshness, and a long silky finish. Lato's 2005 Cinematique-Larner's Vineyard Syrah was smooth, rich, and amazingly balanced.
Margerum Wine Company: When you're looking for a solid, yet reasonably priced Rhone-blend, Margerum's M5 is always a sure bet. Margerum proclaims 2006 as a Grenache year and bumped up his Grenache to 40% in his latest M5 vintage. Look out Pinot Noir and Syrah, the Grenache varietal in SBC is only growing stronger.
Beckmen Vineyards: Winemaker Steve Beckmen is a character. I had fun just watching this guy pour wines. Anyways, his line-up of Syrah vintages were all on point. They were a big hit with the boys in our group.
Sea Smoke: For years Sea Smoke has walked away as being "IT" wine of the year at the Wine Cask Futures tastings. This year was no different. Sea Smoke was one of those tables where you had to stick your glass in amongst the tasters just hoping to get a sip. All three Pinot Noirs being poured on Saturday were excellent. I've never seen D so happy, he absolutely loved them. You're lucky if you can get your hand on a bottle. The demand for a Sea Smoke Pinot Noir is insane.
Foley: Foley was pouring 2 Pinot Noirs on Saturday. Foley's Pommard Clone - Rancho Santa Rosa was good. Seemed like a typical light-medium bodied Pinot Noir, but nothing exceptional. Their Clone 2A Pinot Noir, on the other hand, was a complete diva. Irresistable curves and a decadently smooth finish, the Clone 2A is one of those kind of wines you drink on a night while listening to a Roberta Flack track. Clone 2A's got soul.
Hitching Post: You know I love my Hitching Post. Frank Ostini was there. He's such a humble guy. I really love that about him. Their line-up of Pinots were all very good. Their Highliner is always consistent. A bottle of Highliner at the Hitching Post is like Orange Bang to me. I'll always love it.
Au Bon Climat: The ABC tables were pouring 6 wines, one Chardonnay and five Pinot Noirs. They were also pouring Clendenen Family Wines, Jim Clendenen's (ABC winemaker) limited label. There was too much goin on at this table. I really can't remember what I tried. In any case, the ABC Pinots I've tasted over the years have been good.
Carlson: By the time we got to Chuck Carlson, my favorite Pinot Noir winemaker, he was all out of his 2005 "Ashley" Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. It was noted that this was one of the best Pinot Noir's at the tasting. MAN!
Core: I was first introduced to Core wines at Sona a couple of weeks ago. Core's 2004 Hard Core, a grenache, mouvedre, cab blend at Sona was great. But I can't seem to remember what I thought of his 2005 Mouvèdre and Ground Around blend. Either they were unimpressionable or I had too much to drink. I'd like to think the latter.
Foxen: This was the last table of the day. Nothing was left. I heard their Sea Smoke Pinot Noir was incredible. I'm just not sure it's worth the $75 though.
Don't worry, we weren't drinking the entire day. I spent a good amount of time wandering off sampling their trays of pâté and cheeses. The one thing I really appreciate about this tasting was the amount of food going around. You won't go hungry at the Wine Cask tasting that's for sure.
These strawberries fell from heaven. I must have eaten 20 of them!
The Wine Cask Futures tasting is so worth the drive. For $55, we really got to try some of Santa Barbara's best. There's another Futures tasting coming up on April 28, 2007. I highly recommend this tasting. It's good stuff.
If you can't make it to the Wine Cask Futures tasting, Santa Barbara Vitners' Festival is coming up on April 21st. I heard great things about the Vitners' Festival...everyone and their mama's will be there.
813 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara Ca 93101