2008 Tyler La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir


2008 Tyler La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir

2008 Tyler La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir

Tyler wines have a pretty stellar reputation for a label that’s only been around for a handful of vintages. Combine a focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay only, sourcing fruit from many of the top vineyards in Santa Barbara County, a deft hand in the cellar from winemaker Justin Willett, ultra-limited production, and appearances on wine lists of many of the top restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and you’ve just described a highly sought after product. Although not terribly easy to find (we bought our bottle at Wally’s), our first impression is that Tyler is definitely a label worth seeking out (pssst – he’s got a mailing list).

Alright – enough hype – let’s get to the wine. The La Encantada vineyard is an organically farmed vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills AVA, developed and managed by Richard Sanford at Alma Rosa (Note – we recently learned that Richard Sanford has sold the vineyard to Hillside Road, but the word is that the new owners are dedicated to maintaining the organic status of the vineyard). I’ve had plenty of Alma Rosa Pinots from La Encantada, and have always been impressed by how “pretty” the wines have been. Pretty in a Pinot Noir for me means a more floral nose and a palate dominated by fresh, beautifully textured fruit. In comparison, there’s lots of great Pinot Noirs that bring a more earthy, mushroomy quality to the fore, but this has not been typical for La Encantada.

So what did we find in the Tyler? La Encantada – all the way. Perfumed and floral background on a nose that’s dominated by fresh cherry and raspberry. Beautifully light bodied wine, but the flavors are quite robust, and backed with high acidity that brings a crispness and sizzle to liven the palate. Bright raspberry and cherry fruit dominates this wine. It may sound plain, but it’s pulled off so well that it’s actually quite dazzling. Pure fruit expression with nothing to get in the way.

Lack of heavy tannin means this wine is ready to drink now, but laying it down for a few years will surely elevate the beauty of this wine to another level. $50

 

2009 Kunin Phoebe 2.0 Alisos Vineyard Rosé


2009 Kunin Phoebe 2.0 Alisos Vineyard Rosé

2009 Kunin Phoebe 2.0 Alisos Vineyard Rosé

Typically thought of as summer sipping wines, Rosés continue to struggle to find their audience in the U.S. – especially with men. Well here’s one motorcycle-ridin’, rock n’ roll-lovin’ man who’s not afraid to drink the pink stuff, and this Grenache Rosé from Kunin is a great example of why Rosés have to be a part of any wine lover’s arsenal.

The 2009 Phoebe 2.0 from the Alisos Vineyard is more reminiscent of an earth-driven Rosé from Bandol or greater Provence than the more fruity versions typically found in California. Rose petal and wet stone on the nose, this wine is bone dry with a stony, flinty structure that supports a restrained fruit palate of white raspberry, white grapefruit and watermelon. Light acidity and a crisp finish both add to the delicateness of this wine. As you might guess, the Phoebe 2.0 is a great wine to pair with food. We had this with a spicy chicken sausage, olive and cheese lunch, and the wine provided the perfect palate cleanser between bites.

While maybe not the best stand-alone sipping Rosé, it’s refreshing to find a SBC Rosé that has the finesse and structure to make it a knockout summer food wine. Drink it now – $18.

kuninwines.com

2010 Longoria Clover Creek Vineyard Albariño, Santa Ynez Valley


Albariño may not be a familiar wine for most people, but these whites originally from the Rias Baixas (REE-us BUY-shass) region of Northwestern Spain offer up some fantastically vibrant wines that are great on their own, and are excellent matches for shellfish. While Spanish varietals are not a common feature of wine makers in SBC, Richard Longoria has been producing very respectable vintages of Albariño and Tempranillo since 2003.

The 2010 version is fresh, vivacious and crisp, but also very flavorful and satisfying. This wine is not overly complex, but it’s damn good. Bright aromas of white peach, lemon-lime and rose petal mingle with hints of fresh cut grass. Honeydew melon, lemon-lime, and apricot flavors combine with light minerality, racy acidity and a surprisingly long finish. Drink it now – $23.

longoriawine.com