It was a day of mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay when the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers came to the Wine House for their annual road trip tasting. The tasting brought together the best this Santa Barbara County region has to offer.
One thing that was quite noticeable was the consistent flavors of the Chardonnay from many of the vintners. Typically with this varietal each winery will emphasize different flavor profiles but along side the distinct acidity from Sta. Rita Hills was the flavor of apples. Many were golden apples while others displayed the bite of green apples. You might say the wineries united together making it an apple sort of day.
Here are the Chardonnays that struck a chord:
The Hilt 2014 Chardonnay was bright and crisp with tropical fruit and apple flavors.
Crawford Family Wines 2014 Chardonnay Rita’s Crown with flavors of golden apple flavors.
Kessler-Haak 2014 Estate Chardonnay with its own take on apples.
Transcendence Purisima 2015 Zotovich Chardonnay, which is aged in stainless steal with its crisp clean green apple, flavors. For Transcendence Purisima is their second label and was being debuted at this event.
Taking a little different stance on Chardonnay was Brewer Clifton 2014 Chardonnay, which displayed a heavier more viscous texture and offered flavors of pear.
Greg Clifton has also reintroduced Diatom. The 2013 Chardonnay is another more viscous wine with an oily texture and flavors of apple. Based on the texture you would not know this wine was aged in stainless steel.
Two other varietals are worth mention and one is the Foxen 2014 Chenin Blanc with it crisp ripe flavors of pear. The other although not from Sta. Rita Hills was the sneak preview of the Crawford Family Wines 2015 Albarino. With flavors of Stone Fruit this is a very fragrant wine and a nice addition the Crawford portfolio.
In Rosé the favorite was the Kessler-Haak 2014, a very fragrant wine with aromas and flavors of strawberry.
Moving on to Pinot Noir here are the ones that deserve mention:
Having never sampled the wines of The Hilt they were the first sampled and of the two showcased the 2012 Vanguard was favored. This is the winery’s flagship wine, which takes the essence of Sta. Rita Hills to the hilt in expression, combining fruit from two vineyards Sanford & Benedict and Solomon Hills. The wine is brighter with a bit sweeter cherry flavors. This comes from the bright acid and the inclusion of whole clusters. The wine sees 30% new oak.
Ken Brown’s 2013 SRH is a softer nicely balanced Pinot Noir that combines grapes from Rio Vista, Rita’s Crown and Radian vineyards.
Montemar exhibited two exception Pinot Noirs. The first a 2013 Pinot Noir combines the Rio Vista, Buona Terra and Bentrock vineyards to deliver a soft yet balanced wine. The second a 2012 Pinot Noir Bent Rock Vineyard is more complex and bolder in its stance. You might say the two were examples of the Yin and the Yang because the first was more feminine in its character while the second was more masculine.
Coming back to Transcendence’s Purisima the 2014 Sta. Rita Hills utilizes grapes from La Cantata, Kessler-Haak and Zotovich vineyards to bring forth a light Pinot Noir with emphasis on red fruit. The Purisima 2014 Kessler-Haak Pinot Noir combines clones 115 and Pommard to solicit a bigger Pinot with brighter aromatics. Joey Gummere in his Purisma brand is trying to extract the most out the fruit with a hands off approach to winemaking.
The wines of Sta. Rita Hills speak for themselves delivering bright acids, wonderful minerality and a true expression of the terrior that signifies the region. One always walks away from a Sta. Rita Hills tasting knowing each vintner has discovered what makes good Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.