STARS of Santa Barbara Wrap-Up!

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STARS of Santa Barbara Wrap-Up!

Postby Phil_Carpenter » Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:25 am

Had the distinct pleasure of attending the STARS of Santa Barbara tasting last night at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. This event was organized by Ian Blackburn of "Learn About Wine" (

I have to admit, driving up to the Peninsula in the Yaris seemed a little daunting. All them Bentley and Ferrari's can do that to ya. But once I walked in, the familiar faces put me right at home.

As always...I intend to take the most beautiful notes and have them organized perfectly for you. But I ended up talking too much, socializing, and enjoying the company. Instead, I've got a rundown of the wines that were true highlights:

Alma Rosa Santa Barbara County & El Jabali Vineyard Chardonnays: These were some killer chards. I'm glad I can find them down in San Diego.

Bian Nacido
Had the pleasure to talk with Trey Fletcher, the winemaker for the Bien Nacido & Solomon Hills labels. I've been super excited to try these wines. Trey, a fellow San Diegan btw, is a really nice guy and makes some unbelievable wines. The Solomon Hills Chard and Pinot were amazing. Bien Nacido and Syrah were unbelievable. Legendary vineyard that is finally producing under their own label. Very excited for them.

Brewer Clifton
I've mentioned it before...this is the very first label I ever tried from Santa I have an emotional bias. Tasting them with Steve Clifton...well, can't help but make the wines even better. Santa Rita Hills & Mount Carmel chards were great. Lovely acid and tropical notes. Santa Rita Hills & Mount Carmel pinots felt like home. Spicey...bright fruits...lovely.

Went through the whites. Nothing touches that Malvasia Bianca...they got an absolute winner in that wine. The Pinot Gris, Tocai Friulano, and Arneis are oh so good as well...but there is something about that Malvasia.

Peter wasn't there...which was a bummer...but his 08's were. 08 Cargasacchi and Jalama are showing so well right now.

Brandon Sparks-Gillis was there, and behind the camera being interviewed. The 10 Santa Ynez Valley & Happy Canyon Sauv Blanc were layered, usual. Brandon had an under the table special...10 Santa Rita Hills pinot. Just bottled...already showing great fruit and spice. I'm telling you...TRY THESE WINES!!

Liquid Farms
I've talked about this label before...Brandon is making this wine with Jeff and Nikki Nelson. 10 White Hill and Golden Slope Chards are the absolute real deal. Some of the best chard up there. Also had a Mourved rose they are making. In the Bandol!

Riley Wathen was pouring the wines. Wines showing well as always. 10 Santa Maria Valley Pinot is new and good!!

Another Phil Carpenter favorite. Had the pleasure of hanging out with Dave Yates and Matt Brady. 10 Viognier & 10 Grenache Blanc were singing as usual. Verna's Syrah was the under the table special...this is one of Santa Barbara's best.

La Fenetre
Joshua Klapper was pouring his wines. All the La Fenetre & A Cote wines are reeeeaaallly good. 09 Bien Nacido Chard really stood out.

Martian Ranch
I'm very excited for this label. Mike Roth (Demetria) has taken over winemaking and they are going to have their own vineyard. The Grenache Blanc and Vio were showing well. Mike didn't make these wines.

Another label to be excited for. Clarissa Nagy (Bonaccorsi) has taken over the winemaking. The lineup was showing very well. 10 Bedrock Chard & 08 Santa Maria Valley Pinot were very good. Clarissa didn't make these wines.

Assistant Winemaker Jessica Gasca was there pouring the lineup. I had these wines at oh my what a little bottle age and decant does for some wines. 09 "Ode to Sunshine" chard is in my cellar...and super complex. 08 Endangered Species and 07 Las Mujeres showing some super crazy notes.

Shai Cellars
Finally had the opportunity to meet Shawn Shai Halahmy. Been wanting to try the wines for a while now. 08 Adome is integrated with great fruit and structure. 09 is Adome is a tad bigger, but showing same great notes. 09 Grenache is feminine and pretty with just enough syrah to give it a nice frame. Bravo Shawn.

Larry had the 10 Grenache Blanc. Hadn't had it before. Larry does amazing things with GB. The Outlier and White Hawk Vio are great. The 07 Climb was a big hit as well.

Thorne Wine
Graner and Barbara Thorne were pouring their wines. Had a great conversation with them. The 08 & 09 Pinots are such a fine example of Santa Rita Hills Pinot.

Vino V Wines
Michael Meagher makes Old Creek Ranch wines (tasting room in Ojai) and has his own label. Very impressed with these wines. 06 White Hawk Syrah was stellar. 10 Confundida (Gruner Veltliner) was an absolute treat and a mind freak. 09 Solomon Hills Chard was very nice as well. Check these out.

All in all, the venue was amazing and Ian really rolled out the red carpet. Food was great and the staff was on top of everything.

Other highlights:

-Listening to Steve Clifton and Larry Schaffer talking wine for a good 30-40 minutes. Everything from cluster inclusion to individual vineyard performance. So intriguing...
-During the conversation with the Thornes, Mrs. Thorne looked me in the eye and said, "Don't get in the business!"
-The consumer crowd were big cab a lot of requests for it. Wish there were some more Happy Canyon wines there.

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Re: STARS of Santa Barbara Wrap-Up!

Postby Wineholio » Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:52 am

Nice summary Phil!
I can certainly see that you know your wine. Most of the guests who stay here wouldn't know the difference between Bordeaux and Claret.
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Re: STARS of Santa Barbara Wrap-Up!

Postby Steve Anderson » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:03 pm

Wineholio wrote:Nice summary Phil!

Ditto! I rember seeing this event on the calendar and trying to figure out a way to make it but no way to get out of work that day.

Understand about the car. Made sure to take the wife's X5 to the recent Addison/Grand Del Mar event so I didn't have to valet the Fit!

Great line up of SB wines.

Loved the Liquid Farm Golden Slope when Brandon opened it in Los Olivos, but haven't come across it in bottle yet. Thought it was awesome.

Palmina Malvasia rocks and hope to get to try the other Italian whites again soon.

Appreciate the preview on Dragonette. Looking foward to the upcoming release and seeing them at Family Winemakers next month, along with Larry S and Jaffurs. Sad to see Martian Ranch will only be pouring in Pasadena and not Del Mar - seems like an interesting project.

Sounds like a great event and will keep an eye out for it next year.

Somehow...I have a feeling that you will be ignoring Mrs. Thorne's advice sometime in the future!


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