• I went paragliding between skyscrapers yesterday. It was late bordering on early. A few of us broke into the Arco tower in Downtown LA. That was a chore in and of itself, with two guys on security lookout, one relooping footage, one attending the locks, and the last of us sporting the gear. We reached the roof in twelve minutes, and then spent the next ten toasting with wine atop the LA skyline.

    Using Go cameras strapped to our helmets we dived off the roof with the starlight of LA just below our feet. Then the poop hit the proverbial fan.

    Two of our crew smashed right into the windows of a nearby building, but that was just the start.

    The aliens came next.

    There were lasers, tractor beams, bodies being rended, screams, big eyes, spinning lights, and lots of vanquishing. I was lucky I brought a plasma cannon.

    So, I went on a whirlwind tour of Santa Barbara wineries with friends recently. It was a fabulous day of tasting wonderful wines. The sky was fresh and wet from parted clouds. I found myself thinking of the sun, the birds, the flowers, and the puddles of water reflecting the trees above them.

    It was a good day.

    One of the first places we went to was Margerum. Owned by Doug Margerum, the winery was created to make consistent, high quality, small production wines. He started out as the owner of Wine Cask, a restaurant that garnered fame and later allowed him to pursue wine making. Interestingly enough he sold the restaurant to focus on wine, and then just two years later he brought it back. I’m curious about the story behind that.




    We had a nice Southern Rhone style red blend called the M5 on account of it being a blend of 5 grape varietals.

    “M5 is a wine that is from a thought—a blend that is an amalgamation of memories, both distant and recent, from the numerous wines I have tasted and loved.”  – Doug Margerum

    The M5 is crazy good for the price, and we also tried their fabulous Grenache and their Colson Canyon Vineyard Syrah.

    After Margerum we went to Carr. I loved Carr… they have a shuffle board… enough said.

    Carr was fun in that it was non-descript from the outside, and then you go in. It opened up into this huge wood ensconced anteroom. The left had a multi-stooled bar for tasting, the shuffle board just past, and then it grew in size to a huge barrel room with a giant Christmas tree. The ambiance was just the tip of the iceberg.




    Jessica Carr (co-owner and host), made us feel right at home.

    The Pinot Noir and Grenache were excellent, but there was one wine that I flipped for (I don’t flip easy).

    It was their Blanc de Noir sparkling wine (made from Pinot Noir grapes). Dry, crisp, green, earthy, esoteric, effervescent, different and de-licious… I asked for a second sip after we were done. It was the highlight of my day as far as wine was concerned.




    Next post I will talk about two others we visted… Melville and Dierberg/Star Lane.




    Tasting Notes for some of the wines I enjoyed…


    2012 Margerum M5

    Winery tasting notes:

    Aroma: Dark plum, youthful fruits come immediately to the fore, with perfumed Grenache and rose-petal floral aromas. A whirl of assorted spices further entwines with charcuterie undertones.

    Palate: A firm, solid offering with an impressive grip with ripe tannins. A burst of berried Grenache flavors initially impact, followed by the black olive, licorice and dark chocolate contribution of Syrah and Mourvedre.


    2010 Margerum Syrah, Colson Canyon Vineyard

    Winery tasting notes:

    We get stellar grape production courtesy of our good friend Rio Rieswig. This wine is generally the most approachable of our entire single vineyard Syrah program. Pepper and meaty aromas jump out of the glass as it is the most “old world” wine in the Margerum stable– and, no, stable is not a barn metaphor. The Colson Canyon Syrah is a blend of clone 7 and clone 877. We age this wine for 20 months in a combination of new and neutral Françoise Frères barrels.

    2009 Carr Blanc de Noir, Kessler-Haak Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

    Winery tasting notes:

    Made in the traditional Méthode Champenoise each bottle was aged on it’s side for one year in our cellar, then hand riddled over eight months creating clarity & round flavors. This is a dry sparkling wine that has a bright tropical nose and delicate bubbles.  Pair this wine with Cream Cheese Pancakes with Smoked Salmon.

    2012 Carr Grenache, Paredon Vineyard, Santa Barbara County

    Winery tasting notes:

    This medium bodied Grenache starts off filling the glass with aromas of floral perfume with a tinge of forest floor. Flavors of black cherry and cedar on the front with black licorice and black pepper on the mid-palate. It rounds out with a spicy finish and strong tannins.

    2012 Carr Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County

    Winery tasting notes:

    This Pinot Noir has lively aromas of raspberry and leather that open up flavors of black currants and mushroom with a subtle spice on the finish.  Pair with Ravioli with Wild Mushrooms.