Chardonnay Symposium Coverage & Various Other Observations

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Chardonnay Symposium Coverage & Various Other Observations

Postby Phil_Carpenter » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:34 am

Good friend Laurie Jervis has written an outstanding article covering the 2012 Chardonnay Symposium. The article appears on her website, Central Coast Wine Press:

Laurie does a great job of laying out quotes and items discussed. So I'll stick to the wines a bit.

I had the great pleasure of attending the panel discussion and grand tasting. Upon arrival, I knew it was going to be a special day. Byron Vineyards is stunningly beautiful. Arrived early and just gazed out at the views.

10am rolled around, sat in the seat Laurie saved for me and took in the conversation.

Big shocker, I was excited to try the Santa Barbara wines. Particularly interesting were the Presqu’ile barrel samples. Simply labeled, "A" & "B". A showed a more steely lean style. B showed a much more layered style. Both cloudy...but when blended, a special experience took place. Note to self, try MORE Prequ'ile!!

In my book, the wine that stole the show was the 2010 Foxen Bien Nacido "UU" Block. Perfect combo of acid and weight. Bright tropical and citrus notes. Man, I'll be looking into getting some of this.

The seminar was a good balance between geekiness and Wine 101. I learned a few new terms (hyperoxidatoin, water bent barrels are words that have been googled lately)...and when the winemakers got too geeky, they wrangled it back in.

As usual, I intended to make a bunch of formal notes. And of course, I spent most of the time talking and enjoying the company of the people pouring the wines.

Wines that stood out:

Deovlet: Ryan had two outstanding 2010's (Solomon Hills & Sanford and Benedict). Ryan also makes wines for Refugio (beautiful tasting room in Los Olivos). I've always been a fan!

Liquid Farm: Jeff and Nikki were pouring the 10 White Hill and Golden Slope (with a little 11 mourved rose if you were lucky). I've talked about these wines a lot. These wines are going to take over the world. Mark my words!

Qupe: Bob Lindquist, the man, the myth, THE LEGEND, had the best table. Bob has been making wine for a long time...and has no problem sharing wines from the library. A vertical of his Bien Nacido chardonnays...with 99 and 96 out of mag. 99 was my favorite. Still has amazing acid and fruit. 96 was at its pinnacle. Little more lush with riper tropical notes. BIG thanks to Bob for sharing!

Presqu’ile: This was the first time I've been able to talk with Dieter Cronje. The guy has charisma, is hilarious, and my God, is he intelligent. It's amazes me how smart winemakers are. Especially these young guys! Dieter really gets it. The wines reflect that. I NEED to try the reds.

All-in-all, CS2012 was an absolute hit. I just kept getting tastes and walking to the edge of the hill and staring at the vineyards. What a beautiful day. I hope CS2013 is at Byron again next year. I could use a bit (well A LOT) more Santa Rita Hills fruit (i.e., Clos Pepe, Zotovich, Brewer-Clifton, Arcadian, Tyler, Evening Land, I can go on...) at the next one.

Wines@Root 246

Got together with some great friends at Root 246 for dinner. We all brought some bottles and enjoyed "Foie-mageddon"!

Wines that stood out:

10 Paul Lato Pinot Noir, "Atticus" (John Sebastiano Vineyard)
This is the third wine I've had from this new vineyard. I'm noticing a common theme...aromatics. A beautiful red fruit and spice that is just epic. This offering was so aromatically perfect it was crazy. The thing that concerned me was there was hardly any acid or tannin. I know this is a new bottling and I'm sure it is going to flesh out. But the nose was the best of the night.

09 Chanin Pinot Noir, Le Bon Climat Vineyard
This baby was a bit closed up, then all of a sudden...POP! Acid woke up, aromatics jumped from the glass. Roses, red fruit, pebbly mineral. Gavin Chanin is on an amazing hot streak. He's going to be starting a new label and vineyard project with Bill Price ( ... aid=101486). Get his wine NOW!!

Lex Beux Contes ("A Collaborative California Red Wine")
This is a joint project with John Cabot and Larry Schaffer. John contributed syrah (little vio co-ferment) from his Humboldt Kimberly's Vineyard, while Larry contributed Thompson syrah and Camp 4 grenache. All I can say is...WOW! This is a big boy that reminds me of Cotie Rotie. Big, bold, structured, but with some nice perfume, purple flowers, and dark fruit. If you can get some (visit Tercero tasting room!), DO IT!!

Sunday Tasting Room Visits in Los Olivos

Brandon was nice enough to meet us at the tasting room with some barrel samples. The whole lineup is showing extremely well. Especially the 2010 Black Label Reserve Pinot. Just a beautiful blend (Cargasacchi Santa Rita Hills clone 115, Fiddlestix clone 115 and La Encantada clone 667).

2011 Long Aged Sauv Blanc
This received some extra time in barrel, but shows bright acidity and great, fresh tropical fruits! Some nice white flowers as well.

2009 MJM
This is their reserve syrah. Tight coil of some pencil lead, smoke, and structured fruit. This is a big boy.

2010 MJM
Almost a polar opposite of the 09. Perfumed, with softer blue fruit and velvet structure. Jeez, great right now!!

I think it is rather obvious that I'm a fan of Larry Schaffer's wines. His wines were some of the first I had from SB. It's amazing to see how much the vintages have improved since 06. Got to go through the lineup again and the one that stood out was:

08 Tercero Cuvee Loco (50% Larner Grenache, 50% Larner Syrah)
I can't believe how this wine makes quantum leaps every time I taste it. Fruit just keeps getting more beautiful. Classic Larner grenache notes of raspberry and spice. Syrah brings the backbone. Some smoke and grilled meat. Amazing.

Wrap-Up BBQ with the Nelsons
Jeff and Nikki Nelson from Liquid Farms had a bbq to wrap-up the weekend. Got to spend even more time with the 2010 Liquid Farm chards and 11 Vogelzang mourvedre rose. The 2010 Golden Slope chard was out of mag. White Burgundy in style, and simply amazing. Jeff then brought out a shiner...

2011 Liquid Farm White Hill blend sample
Alright, so Chablis might want to watch out for this one. Some salinity in nose, white flowers, and wet stone (slate?). KILLER acid. As we kept trying it, the notes were starting to meld. This is going to be a stunner. I think this is going to be the vintage that takes this label to new heights.

Well, that is it! Phew! Hope you enjoyed the post. Please comment with what you think!!

Lastly, follow this link for some pics I took and posted on Flickr: ... 410775782/
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