Wine & Fire 2013 has now come and gone but the lingering flavors of superb wine still remains. Each year seems to surpass the year before making this one of the most outstanding events that showcases the wines of Sta. Rita Hills AVA.
Situated around the fountain beneath the oak and olive trees as the sun sets at the picturesque La Purisima Mission, one finds a very peaceful setting to enjoy the elegant Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays of the region. With almost 40 vintners participating, a wide selection of wines and styles were to be had. Everyone attending felt satisfied that they had discovered the best of the best of the Sta. Rita Hills. The congenial atmosphere made it a perfect venue to converse with many of the winemakers.
At these events it is always fun to discover the newcomers and there definitely were some newbies to the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance that are well worth mention.
The stand out was Montemar with their two Pinot Noirs. Both were 2011. One a blend of Rio Vista clone 2A and La Encantada Clone 115. The other Pinot Noir is 100% La Encantada Clone 115. The blend of Rio Vista and La Encatada was the favored Pinot of the two. Both have the perfect amount of spice and are very full bodied and balanced. Both are aged 15 months in 35% new French oak and the rest in neutral oak. Winemaker Steve Arrowood comes from a background of aerospace but has turned his creative talents into making superb wines.
Another newer winery is Crawford Family Wines. Although not new to the business many are familiar with Mark Crawford Horvath and Kenneth - Crawford Wines. In addition to Crawford Family Wines, Mark is currently the winemaker at Tres Hermanos Winery & Vineyard. Mark with his wife Wendy featured four wines under the Crawford Family Wines. They are the 2012 Chardonnay, Tin Shack, Sta. Rita Hills, the 2011 Pinot Noir, Walk Slow, Sta. Rita Hills, the 2012 Pinot Noir Zotovich Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills and the 2012 Pinot Noir, 22 Sta. Rita Hills. The 2011 Walk Slow Pinot Noir is a gold winner at the Sunset Wine Competition and will be featured at the upcoming Sunset Savor the Central Coast event at Santa Margarita Ranch in September. It was the 2012 Pinot Noir, 22 that captured the moment at the Wine & Fire event. This wine is from section 22 of the Bentrock Vineyard and is Clone 828. The wine is a big rich full-bodied Pinot Noir with a lot of depth and hints of spice. Mark chose not to use any new oak when aging this wine.
Educating the palette with components of the 2012 Pinot Noir, Kita Wines gave barrel samplings of the 2012 vintage. One got to taste individually the four clones from Hilliard Bruce Vineyards that will make up this Pinot Noir. They were Clone 828, Clone 777, Calera and Clone 115 showing that once you bring everything together you will have a superb 2012 Pinot Noir. As winemaker, Tara Gomez says, “ It is the Calera that will help give this wine its finish.”
When it comes to chardonnay these made the most impression from those tasted on this particular night. The 2011 Sea Smoke Chardonnay that was crisp and balanced with hints of pineapple, the Zotovich 2010 Chardonnay, a wine that is fermented in neutral barrels, the 2012 Transcendence Chardonnay Zotovich Vineyard a balanced Chardonnay that is aged in stainless steel, the Lindley 2011 Chardonnay that is aged in stainless steel with no malalactic fermentation.
Liquid Farm cornered the market for Sta. Rita Hills Rosé. This was perhaps the only Rosé that could be found at the event. With its subtle pink color, aromas and flavors it is an outstanding Rosé.
Stepping up to the Pinot Noir there were so many exceptional ones at this event that one could not taste them all. The three that stood out on this night happened to all be very full-bodied Pinot Noirs with rich dark color. They were the Transcendence 2012 “F Street” Pinot Noir, the Zotovich 2010 Estate Pinot Noir and the 2009 Huber Cellars Pinot Noir. The Zotovich was very fruit driven while the Huber was very drinkable with a smooth finish.
As is true to the Wine & Fire event, the fire portion, known as the grilled foods were excellent. Hitching Post II offered a very popular slider, while the ribs and tri tip at Los Amigo Barbeque were excellent.
Those with a sweet tooth must try Goodie Godmother. The Coconut Macaroons were to die for. For the chocolate lover there were the Salted Caramel Brownies. After tasting these scrumptious treats one can only image and salivate over the other delectable deserts that the Goodie Godmother creates that are “baked with love and pixie dust!” The Goodie Godmother bakes these treats for Lompoc, Vandenberg AFB and the surrounding communities.
As the stars began to twinkle in the sky and night came upon us signaling the end of the 2013 Wine & Fire tasting. For all attendees it was a spectacular evening and kudos go to the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Alliance for showcasing the Sta. Rita Hills wines in all their glory.
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