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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Best of the Central Coast Tour

I’ve just returned from the Wine-Knows Tour to California’s Central Coast.   From Santa Barbara to Paso Robles, over 100 wines were tasted at 16 different wineries.   Although Rhone varietals dominated (Syrah, Grenache, Roussane, Marsanne & Viognier), we also had  many cool climate grapes such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Gewurztraminer.  Cab and Zin, representing the warmer areas, were also sampled.

Best wine of the trip?   Piedrasassi’s 2009 “White.”  I was left breathless by this cuvee...and that's saying something considering the number of well-crafted wines I taste each year.  Made mostly from Sauvignon Blanc, it also has some Chardonnay and Malvasia in the mix.  Bottled in handmade glass from Italy, the celebrity packaging is fitting for this super-star.  While it’s the first vintage of this particular blend by winemaker Sashi Moorman, I hope it won’t be the last. This stunning wine is a steal at $42.  Piedrassasi is located in Lompoc’s “Wine Ghetto.”

Below are the best of the rest, all noteworthy, listed in alphabetical order, with the winery/tasting room location noted.

  • Alta Colina 2010 12 O’Clock High  (Paso Robles).  Succulent tropical mix with peaches & apricots in this primarily Viognier blend.  Made by a 3 generation family.  $28

  • Alta Maria 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (Los Olivos).  Loved the melon & citrus nuances and great finish.  $22

  • Alma Rosa 2008 Pinot Noir La Encantada Vineyard (Santa Rita Hills).  Winemaker Richard Sanford has created a terrific berry-cherry-spice-floral treasure. $43

  • Barrel 27---2007 Head Honcho Syrah (Paso Robles).  Plums & raspberries with an overlay of chocolate.   Good structure and finish. $28

  • Chamisal 2008 Califa Chardonnay (Edna Valley). One of my fave Chars---complex, luscious and a killer finish.  $38

  • Claiborne & Churchill 2010 Gewurztraminer (Edna Valley).  Best crafted dry Gewurtz in the USA.  $20

  • Holus Bolus 2010 Syrah (Lompoc).  It won’t be bottled for another few months, but this one is worth the wait.   $26

  • Jaffurs 2009 Grenache Blanc (Santa Barbara).  Only 300 cases of this tropical gem.  $30

  • Melville 2010 Verna’s Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills).  One of the winery’s most popular, this one is flat our delicious.  $26

  • Palamina  2010 Tocai Friiulano (Lompoc).  Apricot & citrus mixed with floral notes, it’s a perfect summer aperitif.   $18

  • Stolpman 2009 Hilltop Syrah (Santa Ynez Valley).  Harvested from the best blocks at the estate, you gotta love this one.  $48

  • Tablas Creek 2009 Espirit de Beaucastel (Paso Robles).  I admit that I’m a raving fan of France’s Chateau Beaucastel, but this American Rhone-blend is pure bliss. $55

  • Talley 2009 Rosemary Vineyard Pinot Noir (Edna Valley).   Layers and layers of fruit and earth with a superb finish.  $70

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