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    Last weekend a few of us rambled along the 101 up to the Santa Barbara winery trails. Our first stop was aptly named Santa Barbara Winery, and our wine pourer held no punches. My two favorites were their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

    The Sauvignon Blanc was a 2012 from Santa Ynez Valley

     

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    Winery-speak:

    “Taking advantage of a more traditional climate for this grape than our cool climate Lafond Vineyard, Bruce is mindful of the importance of carrying on the style he developed over the years from the Musque clone of Sauvignon Blanc previously grown at our vineyard.

    Bruce barrel fermented 20% of the juice in neutral oak puncheons to give texture to the lean character of this wine without compromising the racy acids naturally found in Sauvignon Blanc. This results in richness and a silky mouthfeel while maintaining true varietal expression.

    This fresh-tasting wine has its own distinctive flavor, is a great alternative to Chardonnay and serves equally well with moderately spicy foods, seafood and salads.”

     

    And the 2012 Santa Barbara Pinot Noir which comes in at the winery for $17 (a steal)

     

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    “Most of the fruit comes from our Burning Creek vineyard. The remainder from our Lafond Vineyard and Arita Hills Vineyard. All three vineyards are located in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, an appellation known internationally for exceptional Pinot Noir.

    The Santa Rita Hills valley runs east-west leading to the Pacific Ocean. In early afternoon, cool breezes blow up the valley followed by evening fog which lingers until mid-morning.

    This creates the southernmost Region 1 climate zone in the northern hemisphere, which has one of the longest growing seasons in the world, conditions that are ideal for producing quality, fruit-driven Pinot Noir.

    Exhibiting flavors and aromas of black cherry, strawberry, violets and black tea, this wine is the perfect red for light lunches on the patio, lazy afternoons picnicking in the shade or an evening of hors d’oeuvres and aperitiffs at the bistro.”

     

    We traipsed up Foxen Canyon Road to Curtis which was a Firestone vineyard until Andrew Murray acquired a lease to the property. That said, this is the last vintage of Curtis (unless the band gets back together), and I found three of them fabulous.

    The 2012 Grenache Blanc Estate Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley

    “The 2012 Grenache Blanc offers complex aromas of yellow peach, tangerine, lychee nut and white blossom. Clean, flinty flavors of pear, citrus and stone fruit unfold along a rounded mouthfeel. Quenching acidity lends balance and briskness to the finish.”

     

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    The Heritage Cuvee

    “91 POINTS…Gorgeous” -JamesSuckling.com

    Our 2009 Heritage Cuvée is a classic Rhône-style blend of Grenache (39%), Mourvèdre (26%), Cinsault (19%) and Syrah (16%). It opens with inviting aromas of cherry, raspberry, cola and sandalwood. A smooth, polished texture unfolds with seamless flavors of plum, wildberry, black cherry and toasty caramel. Notes of mineral and clove linger on a long, integrated finish.

     

    and the 2011 Rock Hollow Cabernet Sauvignon ($18)

    “The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon comes from select vineyards in Paso Robles. This Cabernet Sauvignon begins with aromas of dark cherry, cassis and cinnamon spice with accents of sandalwood. Supple flavors of cherry and raspberry reveal notes of tobacco, cedar and black olive. The texture is rich and even, unfolding into a long, soft finish.”

     

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    We flew the coup and headed to Foxen. It was their new tasting room which I hadn’t been to. Their old ‘shack’ had all the Rhone Varietals, whereas the new digs have the Burgundian ones. So, we tasted all the Pinots, of which the really expensive 2011 Bien Nacido Block 43 was fantastic.

     

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    2011 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido – Block 43 Santa Maria Valley

    “Brilliant ruby-red.  Spicy red fruit and floral scents are complemented by notes of Asian spices and musky herbs.  A sweet vanilla note comes up with air and gives depth to sappy raspberry and rose pastille flavors.  Becomes spicier on the finish, shaped by smooth, harmonious tannins.  This Pinot benefits a lot from air and should be even better in a couple of years.”

     

    Since my sister was along, I had her write a few words about our journey…

    It was a sunny warm day and we walked into the depths of coldness. “It’s for the wine.” She said in response to my shivering body that shook down to my soul. Her smile held too much perkiness for my half-awake mind. The morning came too quickly that day, and the cold just kept it still.
    The dark wood barrels to my right smirked at me, plump in all their burgundy blood glory. The steel ones gleaming with a cool sheen, sun glaring just right hinting at the clarity of white gold within.
    My attention snaps back, my glass has some nice looking liquid in it…swirl, sip, taste…ok maybe the cold early morn isn’t so bad

    -Sara Hood-Herrera

    All in all it was a wonderful little jaunt that culminated in a BBQ at Firestone Winery. Mmmm

     

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