Tasting Report: Wines of the Santa Rita Hills 2012

Santa Rita Hills, located in Santa Barbara County and immortalized by the movie Sideways, is perhaps the preeminent location for Pinot Noir production in all of California. Tasting 30 or so of these Pinots together is tough work: I could drink almost any of them with dinner, and grading them competitively almost feels unfair. That said, I found a number of real winners at this year’s “road trip” to San Francisco, with a dozen or so producers pouring their new releases alongside some older vintages (and not just Pinot). Of special note, the delicate Make-peace bottling from Cold Heaven Cellars and Dragonette’s always-winning wines. These notes are, as always, really rough guidelines and not authoritative reviews… and here they are.

Tasting Report: Santa Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance Road Trip 2012

2009 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Mt. Eden Clone El Jabali Vineyard / C+ /

2008 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir / B /

2007 Ampelos Pinot Noir Prho / B / massive herbs, mint

2010 Ampelos Pinot Noir / B / easy

2008 Ampelos Pinot Noir Lambda / B / menthol notes are huge, overwhelming

2008 Ampelos Syrah Gamma / B+ / massive, smoky

2009 Cargasacchi Pinot Noir Cargasacchi Vineyard / B+ /

2010 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Estate / A- / massive

2009 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Estate / B+ / more tart

2007 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Estate / A- / elegant, easy

2006 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Estate / B+ / has that touch of maturity

2010 Cold Heaven Cellars Viognier Au Bon Climat Vineyard / B+ /

2010 Cold Heaven Cellars Viognier Sanford and Benedict Vineyard / A- / bigger, racier

2010 Cold Heaven Cellars Pinot Noir Nevertell / A- / big and spicy

2010 Cold Heaven Cellars Pinot Noir Make-peace / A / delicate

2010 Cold Heaven Cellars Pinot Noir Queenscup / B+ / chunky

2009 Dierberg Pinot Noir Dierberg Vineyard / B- / overcooked

2010 Dragonette Pinot Noir / A- / a touch concentrated

2010 Dragonette Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard / A- / fruit and spice

2008 Fiddlehead Cellars Pinot Noir “Seven Twenty Eight” Fiddlestix Vineyard / A- / big, grassy

2007 Fiddlehead Cellars Pinot Noir “Lollapalooza” Fiddlestix Vineyard / B+ /

2009 Flying Goat YNOT Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County / B+ / very easy

2009 Flying Goat Pinot Noir Rancho Santa Rosa / B / super jammy, big

2008 Flying Goat Pinot Noir Clone 2A Rio Vista Vineyard / A- / better balance, chewy

2008 Flying Goat Pinot Noir Solomon Hills Vineyard / B+ / meaty notes

2009 Foley Family Pinot Noir / B+ / thick body

2009 Foley Family Lincourt Pinot Noir, Lindsay’s Vineyard / B+ / tobacco notes

2010 Gypsy Canyon Winery Pinot Noir Trois, Gypsy Canyon Vineyard / B / somewhat thin body, very fruity

2008 Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Pinot Noir St. Rita’s Earth / A- / great herbal composition

2007 Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard / B+ / slight bitter edge

2007 Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Pinot Noir Perfect Set, Fiddlestix Vineyard / A- / lovely balance

2009 Huber Pinot Noir Huber Estate / A- / great body, spice, balance

2009 Kessler-Haak Vineyard Pinot Noir Kessler-Haak Vineyard / B / meaty notes

2009 Kessler-Haak Vineyard Pinot Noir Clone 2A Kessler-Haak Vineyard / B- /

2009 Kessler-Haak Vineyard Syrah Turner Vineyard / B+ /

2009 Lafond Vineyards Pinot Noir / B / tart, off balance

2009 Lafond Vineyards Syrah / B+ / sweeter style

2009 Longoria Pinot Noir Fe Ciega Vineyard / C+ / medicinal notes

2010 Longoria Pinot Noir Lovely Rita / B- /

2009 Pali Wine Company Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard / B / tart, off balance

2010 Pali Wine Company Pinot Noir Huntington Santa Barbara County / B / thin

2010 Siduri Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard / B+ / more smoky, earth

2010 Siduri Pinot Noir / B+ /

2009 Zotovich Cellars Pinot Noir Zotovich Estate / B- / very tart

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