Monday, May 3, 2010

2010 Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting in Los Angeles

On April 24th, The Wine House and The Winehound hosted some three hundred wine enthusiasts at the the 2010 Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting in Los Angeles.  Over 50 wineries from across Santa Barbara County participated in the tasting at the Olympic Collection Banquet and Conference Center a few blocks from The Wine House.  Last year's event was held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Century City and showcased some amazing wines. In fact, I was introduced to one notable winemaker at last year's futures tasting, who has become a great friend - Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines

With glass in hand and some small bites, I set out to taste my way through the dozens of '08 and '09 vintages.  A number of my fellow wine enthusiasts/writers/bloggers also attended the futures tasting, some who I met for the first time.  It was also a great opportunity to reconnect with winemakers, such as Larry Schaffer, Dave Potter, Ken Brown, Bob Lindquist, Adam Tolmach, Doug Margerum, Peter Work, Norm Yost, Peter Cargasacchi, and David Yates.
Larry Schaffer, Tercero Wines
Doug Margerum, Margerum Wine Co.

Peter Work, Ampelos Cellars
Ken Brown, Ken Brown Wines
I set out with one goal in mind: try to visit as many wineries as possible, particularly those I consistently buy from, while managing to taste a few new ones.  From my own biased perspective, I thought the selection of wines represented the diverse vineyards and winemaking styles of Santa Barbara County.  More importantly, many wines (some recently bottled or barrel samples) exhibited remarkable structure and complexity.  A few wines were exceedingly tantalizing on the nose and palate.  There is no doubt that these standouts will mature into award winning wines from this acclaimed wine region.  In all honesty, no one wine stood out as a disappointment, but a handful of wines left me asking myself  "where is this going?"  There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to your nose or palate, but you can quickly pick up when something is right or wrong about a wine.  Don't infer from that that some wines were "inferior" or "tainted."  Just take it as it is.

I enjoyed 99% of the wines at the futures tasting, but some deserved a little more attention than others.  Also, you will notice that I did not add tasting notes.  I was busy enjoying the wines and chatting up the winemakers.  More importantly, it's about what you discover in these wines if you so choose to taste them or buy them when they are released.  I'm sure you will pick up dark fruit, citrus, smoke, tar, etc.  All I want to do is steer you in the direction of a few standouts and discoveries.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

And the Nominees are...

Tercero Wines - '08 Cuvee Loco, Larner Vineyard (Ballard Canyon) and '08 The Climb, Santa Barbara County

Jaffurs -'08 Syrah, Larner Vineyard (Ballard Canyon)

Au Bon Climat - '08 Estate Chadonnay, Santa Maria Valley

Ken Brown Wines - '08 Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills

Dragonette Cellars - '09 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley

Honorable Mentions

Blair Fox - '09 Vermentino, Fox Family Vineyard, Santa Barbara County

Shai Cellars - '08 Adome Syrah/Cabernet Blend, Santa Barbara County

Kenneth-Crawford - '09 Pinot Noir, Babcock Vineyard and '09 Rhone Blend, Larner Vineyard (Ballard Canyon)

Rey - '07 Syrah Central Coast

Sanguis - '07 Syrah "Backseat Betty"

Harrison-Clarke - '07 Syrah Estate, Santa Ynez Valley and '07 Cuvee Charlotte Estate, Santa Ynez Valley

And the Oscar Goes to...

Clos Pepe - '09 Pinot Noir Estate, Sta. Rita Hills

Cargasacchi - '08 Pinot Noir, Cargasacchi Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills

Margerum - '08 M5 Reserve, Santa Barbara County


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